November 21, 2013

Southern Storytellers

Earlier today I was typing an email and spelled the word possible "possobile" before catching my mistake. This might not seem like big of a deal and it isn't so much...but in another way it is because I'm not a careless speller. I think the problem is that I'm always rushing, always multi-tasking, always thinking of the next thing.

And there's a time and a place for that, but there's also a time and place to slow down and enjoy the moment. I took a few minutes for a break and instead of vegging out in front of 10 minutes of mindless Netflix, I picked up a book I've been meaning to read. Stories of the Modern South: A Rich Collection of Southern Fiction by Some of the Great Storytellers of Our Time. 

The first story I flipped to was "Pantaloon in Black" by William Faulkner.

This is the first sentence:

He stood in the worn, faded clean overalls which Mannie herself had washed only a week ago, and heard the first clod strike the pine box. 

I had to stop after that one because I'm just in awe of Mr. Faulkner's ability to tell an entire story in so few words. This is the kind of writer I want to be. I know it's kind of a long-shot, but I'm not giving up. Read his sentence again if you need to.

Whenever I think about Faulkner, I always think about Mr. Shelby Foote. Another incredible southern wordsmith who had a way of telling stories unlike anyone else.

Speaking of southern storytellers, we lost a great one today with the passing of Mr. John Egerton. I was fortunate to meet him at Knoxville's Southern Food Writing Conference and I was also able to witness his beaten biscuit demonstration.

I'm grateful for these and all the other writers and storytellers who've help shape our region's narrative. Now, it's up to us to keep the stories coming. I'll leave you with these words, more from Mr. Faulkner, about gratitude.

"Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: It must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all."