SOUTHERN ODYSSEY by Sherwood Anderson

SOUTHERN ODYSSEY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Anderson's writing on the South (where he lived late in his life), much of it obscure or previously unpublished, illuminates the writer more than the region. The selected fiction, essays, memoirs, and journalism, edited by Taylor (English/Univ. of Richmond) and Modlin (English/Virginia Polytechnic Inst.), offer insight into the artistic modus operandi of the author of Winesburg, Ohio and showcase the native Midwesterner's distrust of intellectualism. In ``How I Ran a Small-Town Newspaper,'' Anderson offers a prescription for journalism that represents a fair summation of his fictional technique: ``We . . . have too much the inclination toward what I think of as `big thinking' when what we really want and need is more color, more interest taken in just our own daily lives.'' Anderson practiced a uniquely lighthearted, creative brand of small-town journalism (inventing a fictional staff of reporters, including the famous Buck Fever) while challenging such hallowed southern givens as the purity of white womanhood and the opposition to all things northern. He himself engaged the big issues of the day--industrialization, unionization, and Depression hardship- -infrequently and only so far as they affected the daily lives of workers. The bulk of the material consists of humorous sketches and newspaper and magazine articles that are more impressionistic than objective. Anderson alternately romanticized the South (waxing lyrical about the dignity of poor whites and blacks, the beauty of southern nights) and defended the little folks--mill workers, tobacco farmers, hill people--he thought exploited by big business. Still, his outlook is basically optimistic, his approach evenhanded. As moderator of the famous 1930 debate between John Crowe Ransom (leader of the Agrarian movement) and Stringfellow Barr (a Virginia Quarterly editor who advocated industrialism), Anderson tellingly characterized himself as ``a little worm . . . in the fair apple of progress.'' A notable, if uneven, addition to the Anderson legacy.

Pub Date: Sept. 25th, 1997
ISBN: 0-8203-1899-X
Page count: 264pp
Publisher: Univ. of Georgia
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1997




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