MY TEARS SPOILED MY AIM by John Shelton Reed


and Other Reflections on Southern Culture
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 Where exactly is the South? Why do southerners so love it? Why have more and more blacks been moving there? Is the southerner's reputation for laziness really deserved? Those who know Reed (Sociology/University of North Carolina) only as the author of Southern Folk, Plain & Fancy (1986)--a vastly entertaining collection of southern stereotypes--will be gratifyingly surprised with the present essays, which effortlessly cut through a century's worth of bias to answer the above questions and more. Reed insists that to ask ``Where is the South?'' is pointless. Southerners, he contends, are America's only genuine ethnic group and are bound together by culture--patterns of diet, religion, music, manners, and the like--rather than by geography. There are sizable southern enclaves in Ypsilanti, Michigan; in Bakersfield, California; in Brooklyn; and in many other places. Asked what they like about the South, southerners who live below the Mason-Dixon Line invariably speak of the pleasant natural conditions and the amiable people: ``It's green, clean-looking, not eaten-up with pollution''; ``I have a great feeling of being respected and welcomed here.'' What about returning blacks? Reed says that the years 1963-65 evidenced a watershed reversal of white prejudice; that ``more blacks now hold public office in the South than any other region''; and that ``average black incomes in the South have exceeded those in the Midwest, and increased in the 1980's while declining elsewhere in the US.'' And as for southerners' supposed laziness, Reed notes that they watch less TV and listen to less radio than their compatriots. The author also quotes a 1973 Harris poll that found favorite pastimes to include fixing things around the house; helping others; eating; developing one's personality; having a good time with friends and family; taking naps; and ``just doing nothing.'' Wonderfully authentic: an admirably lighthearted supplement to W.J. Cash's classic The Mind of the South. (Maps.)

Pub Date: March 29th, 1993
ISBN: 0-8262-0886-X
Page count: 168pp
Publisher: Univ. of Missouri
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1993