Naipaul toured the American South with an open mind and heart. He portrays the South as a strange mixture of self-reliance and community, desperation and playfulness; Southerners, whites especially, are a people still coming to terms with their past. The Trinidad-born novelist ( A House for Mr. Biswas ) and social critic ( Among the Believers ) talked at length with Southern blacks and whitespoliticians, tobacco farmers, pastors, country music singers, Tuskegee Institute students, waitresses. He chatted with Eudora Welty about the frontiersman's character, born of cunning and enterprise. He visited Elvis Presley's birthplace in Tupelo, Miss. and observed the Elvis cult's religious overtones. Religion, in fact, hovered ``like something in the air'' wherever he went, a reservoir of instant emotion. Part travelogue, part oral history, in this ruminative ramble Naipaul depicts the South as only an ``outsider'' could, with wonderment and multiple cross-cultural references. First serial to the New Yorker. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989 Release date: 01/01/1989 Genre: Nonfiction
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