Shaken and Stirred
bond, gwenda bond

questions of southern origin
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Let's talk about Southern things, shall we? Southern or southern? (Big S or small s; I'm never sure and tend to do it by feel.)

Christopher, Richard, Kelly and I are on the following panel at Wiscon and I'd certainly welcome any suggestions as to things we might read or discuss.

Cybernetic Magnolias: Southern Women Writing Genre Fiction

This summer, Tor Books will publish Crossroads: Tales of the Southern Literary Fantastic. As with American letters in general, genre fiction has a rich tradition of work with a Southern accent. Six of the contributors to CROSSROADS are women; are women more or less likely than men to use regional concerns in genre work? Women writing "Southern" outside the genre are easy to name--everyone from Flannery O'Connor to Lee Smith. But who are the women writing (or who have written) "Southern" science fiction and fantasy?

Now that that's out of the way, the real subject of this post is three questions originally from largehearted boy, by way of Jeff at Syntax of Things (which you should be reading and you can start with his answers). These are fine questions and so I'm gonna answer them too.

1) What three (3) Southern places, towns, or regions (aside from your own, if you currently reside in the South) do you think you would enjoy living in?

I'd have to say the whole Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill triangle of smartness region, because Barb and Richard live there, among other lovely folks, it's within a fairly easy drive of the beach and has a great music scene. Plus, I remember there being great bookshops. (And lately, they get snow. I like a good completely-snowed-in once in awhile.)

Next, I'd have to say Louisville, because it's the hometown of Christopher's heart and I have to say it. I'm a pretty big Lexington fan, but I can see certain advantages to living in Louisville. Also: El Mundo, where they keep the food of the gods.

The third one gets hard, because I'm just pulling it out of nowhere. So I'm going to cheat and name some places I think I'd like to live, maybe. Athens, Georgia. New Orleans. Virginia Beach (does this count?). Nashville. Possibly Atlanta, though Traffic of Doom reputation doesn't help. There are lots of great southern cities, and huge revitalization efforts in many of them. Oh, and Asheville, I forgot Asheville, which is lovely.

2) What 3 (three) Southern places, towns, or regions have you ever visited and would never want to set foot in again? (I make the special note that you must have actually visited there, mainly because some people have irrational negative opinions about places based entirely upon what they have heard from others. Nothing like first-hand experience.)

This is tougher, because I tend to enjoy bad, hellish or kitsch-to-death experiences on a certain level. And I feel guilty about all the ones I've typed so far. It's too bad Gary, Indiana, isn't in the south -- it's the only place I've ever been that fully seemed to have earned its reputation.

Gainesville, Georgia. It just gave me the creeps.

Little Rock, Arkansas. Because if you get two feet outside the nice downtown, it's all depressing landscape and poverty. (In my experience.)

Daytona, Florida. Went there for Spring Break once upon a time and will never feel the need to return. That was _not_ a trattoria.

3) Finally, what are the three most distinctly Southern tourist traps you have ever visited?

I'd definitely say the whole Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area in Tennesee has to qualify. In the "Great Smoky Mountains," no less. Dollywood and its "You Are Too Large For These Rides We Just Know It, Oh Whew Look A Skinny Person" signs must be experienced to be believed (peace, love, dollywood!). This is one of those places where you can get those monkey puppets that fasten around your neck and waist in every single store. Plus, hillbilly figurines. And did I mention the haunted houses?

Dog Patch, Kentucky. The sad thing about this one is it's nothing BUT a tourist trap. It's just a shop that somehow thinks it's famous for having lots of cement yard art. Ahem.

Much of New Orleans. Yeah, it's fun, but I think we all must face the music that most of the area around Bourbon Street in New Orleans is a hopeless tourist trap for anyone except Christopher's sensible grandmother, who can't be drawn in by it. Hurricanes = Hangovers.

I'd like to note here that there's a certain existential sadness that can only be experienced by observing the day-to-dayness of tourist traps. By watching the people who work in it day after day, and how they react to the same old reactions. Life study? Yes. Study life.

How about you, ex-pats and dixiecats?

worm: "Ghost of Stephen Foster," Squirrel Nut Zippers

thingy/s to check out: Midnight, Mass. (comic book) and also Paradigm (another comic book)

namecheck: KJF World Tour

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