cover image Long Time Leaving: Dispatches from Up South

Long Time Leaving: Dispatches from Up South

Roy Blount, jr., Author Knopf $25 (383p) ISBN 978-0307266187

Ever since beloved Southern writer Blount moved to Massachusetts, he's been trying to use his “regional ambivalence... to get Aunt Dixie and Uncle Sam on speaking terms.” In this diverse collection of humorous essays and occasional verse, Blount tackles a number of topics, including Immanuel Kant, the mind-boggling “Bushy Juggernaut” and the correct grammatical usage of y'all (always plural). Concerned largely with his own pleasures and peccadilloes, Blount sings the praises of New Orleans's jazzy Boswell sisters, staying up late and the company of Jack Russell terriers (“like living with a movie star who seems to be able to handle quite a lot of cocaine”). On the other hand, Tom DeLay of Texas gets called “the thinking person's Satan,” Garth Brooks and Forrest Gump both receive snubs, and caring about college sports in the Northeast draws comparison to “caring about French food in South Carolina.” Adorned with poetical lists and quirky details, Blount's work is unflaggingly passionate and provocative over a range of subjects, including food, politics and all things Southern, and he's as likely to quote the Women's Times as Shakespeare or Zora Neale Hurston. A lively curmudgeon who's talked to just about everyone on just about everything (especially grits), Blount's energetic, unpredictable essays are surefire fan pleasers and fine discoveries for newcomers. (May)