Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Where My Girls At?!: Women of Southern Gothic Lit

Right, so yesterday I saw a short article posted by The Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies which appeared in Publisher's Weekly (read that HERE) entitled "10 Best Southern Gothic Books."  Because I love Southern Gothic lit, I of course clicked through...and promptly got hocked off.  Out of ten books, there was ONE woman.  ONE.  Come on, guys, really?  Off the top of my head, I had five and then thought of three more nearly immediately.  Not hard. Ugh.

Flannery is not impressed with your shit, Publisher's Weekly.

Don't get me wrong.  I loved quite a few of the books they listed, Dennis Covington's Salvation on Sand Mountain, for instance, which was one of the best Southern books I've read in years.  But there was just no call for leaving all these women out.

Anyway, this list is absolutely NOT an end-all-be-all.  As I mention in the companion video (which you can find HERE), this list is way too white-washed, but I realized I don't know any Southern Gothic writers who are women of color.  I almost included Toni Morrison and Zora Neale Hurston, but I'm not sure they would actually fall into this genre.  Any suggestions for Southern Gothic lit by women of color (or anyone of color for that matter) would be greatly appreciated.

[EDIT:  Upon further research and reflection, I absolutely should have included Zora Neale Hurston on this list, and I have added her below.  My apologies, Ms. Hurston.]

With that said, here's my short, quite incomplete list:

1.  Flannery O'Connor:  She was the sole woman on the PW list, and she is the high priestess of Southern Gothic in my opinion.  Her story "Good Country People" is hands down one of the weirdest and best short stories EVER.  Also must read:  Wise Blood (her sole novel) and any short story collection (e.g. A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories).

2.  Dorothy Allison:  Bastard Out of Carolina and Trash

3.  Carson McCullers:  The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and The Ballad of the Sad Cafe and Other Stories

4.  Harper Lee:  To Kill a Mockingbird (and I would bet Go Set a Watchman since it's set in the same universe as TKAM)

5.  Eudora Welty:  The Optimist's Daughter, Ponder Heart, and Why I Live at the P.O. and Other Stories...I hesitated to put her on this list despite the clear Southern Gothic nature of her writing because she was once quoted as saying about Southern Gothic, "They better not call me that!"  Sorry Eudora, had to do it.

The lat three here are modern horror novelists, but their work is definitely Southern Gothic.

6.  Anne Rice:  The Vampire Chronicles and Violin, although most of her work would fall into this category

7.  Caitlin Kiernan:  The Red Tree, Th Drowning Girl, and about a billion short stories in various and sundry anthologies

8.  Poppy Z. Brite (now known as Billy Martin, although all of these were published under Poppy Brite):  Wormwood, Lost Souls, Drawing Blood, and Exquisite Corpse

[EDIT] 9.  Zora Neale Hurston:  As noted above, I almost included her in the video and list, but I was unsure she fit.  After doing a bit of searching, I realized that she is included in the American Library editions of Southern Women writers, and thought of as Southern Gothic at least in some circles.  That's good enough for me.  Read:  ALL the things, of course, but particularly Their Eyes Were Watching God, Mules and Men, and The Complete Stories.

As I said, this is by no means all-inclusive, and I welcome suggestions.

Happy reading!

No comments:

Post a Comment