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Cathedrals of Kudzu: A Personal Landscape of the South Hardcover – August 13, 2000

ISBN-13: 978-0807125946 ISBN-10: 0807125946 Edition: 1St Edition

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Louisiana State University Press; 1St Edition edition (August 13, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807125946
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807125946
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,070,585 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In his foreword Fred Hobson dubs North Carolinian Crowther "a throwback" who resembles the best literary journalists of the early 1900s more than contemporary essayists. Indeed the self-described "born Luddite, anchorite, forest hermit, destroyer of telephones" is an uncommon essayist: a moralist, a widely read generalist, a modern-day Mencken who never hesitates to offend when extolling the virtues or probing the flaws of his favorite subject, the South. These 29 essays (many first published in the Oxford American) skillfully blend the personal and the polemical, experience and reportage, high culture and low, the spiritual and the secular. Crowther's range is best displayed in "God's Holy Fire," which takes to task no less an impressive cast than novelist Reynolds Price, Martin Luther, Kierkegaard, God and the New York Times Book Review. In "The King and I," his uncertain regard for Elvis becomes a touchstone for exploring what's wrong with contemporary America (a recurring theme). Even bemoaning our sorry state, Crowther writes with saving wit and flair, deploring "the Graceland Cult as the state religion of the degenerate 'voodoo republic' that is replacing Mr. Jefferson's dignified democracy." Crowther brings both native insight and objective detachment to his analysis of the South's writers (James Dickey, William Faulkner, Cormac McCarthy), heroes (Stonewall Jackson, George Wallace and Wallace's nemesis, Judge Frank Johnson) and icons (belles, yahoos, radio evangelists). "We'll soon be anachronisms, subjects like me," he allows. But if Crowther is a throwback, he's also a keeperAand likely the best essayist you've never heard of. (Aug.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Crowther, a former editor and critic for Time and Newsweek, as well as a screenwriter, prize-winning syndicated newspaper columnist, and contributor to the bimonthly Oxford American (in which many of the works included here were originally published), here collects his essays on Southern life. The author includes essays on the literature of William Faulkner, James Dickey, Cormac McCarthy, Erskine Caldwell, and Walker Percy; the politics of George Wallace and Frank Johnson; the Civil War, the Klan, and the Civil Rights Movement; and such cultural icons and features as Doc Watson, Elvis Presley, fathers, dogs, and guns. Crowther blends an erudite style with good-ol'-boy populism and biting humor to create a well-crafted sense of place and time (the contemporary American South, with a particular emphasis on Oxford, MI, and the Chapel Hill, NC, areas). Recommended for public and academic libraries and collections specializing in Southern literature and Southern studies.DPam Kingsbury, Alabama Humanities Foundation, Florence
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 14, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book is really worth your time. Hal Crowther is funny and serious and highly original, even with the South's easy targets, like Elvis or the Southern Belle. Even when Hal Crowther is highly critical, he really gets at the essence of why regionalism is relevant, especially when he's writing about about literature and religion.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Mary Kathryn Rondon on April 29, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I was born, raised and educated through college in Alabama, and I was riveted by Hal Crowther's account of life and culture in the South. I couldn't put it down; my husband kept asking why I was laughing out loud. It covers the gamut of everything Southern--from race relations to dogs to barbeque to Elvis. Crowther is a sympathetic writer, but pulls no punches and is not (in my view) the least bit revisionist about the South's mottled history. You'll enjoy the book more if you've paid homage at the altar of Southern literature--Eudora Welty, William Faulkner, Walker Percy. I would recommend it especially to any Southern ex-pats. Fire up your grill, make some iced tea (or pour yourself a bourbon if you're so inclined), put an Elvis CD on the stereo, and kick back.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Docia Lane on November 5, 2006
Format: Paperback
A WONDERFUL read! Great for any Southern culture enthusiast! Good source for other Southern books as many references are made in the text. Excellent!!!
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Format: Paperback
My long-time readers are aware that I am drawn to essayists as unswervingly as I am drawn to essaying. In my online journal (The Soupletter, 1993-2003) I reviewed collections by Diane Ackerman, Annie Dillard, Stephen Jay Gould, Barbara Kingsolver, Ann Lamott, Kurt Vonnegut, E.B. White, Terry Tempest Williams and many others. Each and all are wonderful wordsmiths, and Crowther belongs right up there with the best of them. CATHEDRALS OF KUDZU is largely drawn from the author's regular contributions to The Oxford American a lofty journal, with a regretably small readership. Though Crowther's newspaper column runs regularly in the Independent of Raleigh, and irregularly elsewhere in the alernative press, he deserves a much wider audience. On the other hand, one cannot ignore the fact that writing at his level is aimed a little high for a general readership. Crowther draws on wide knowledge of literature and history, a marvelous vocabulary, a well-honed scepticism, and his enormous good nature, in delineating, skewering, praising and confessing to the sins and glories of his South. His discussion of race relations is the sanest I have seen in print, period. His consideration of the meaning of the Confederacy and its lingering traces is thought provoking and deep, as his consideration of bourbon and hurricanes, evangelists and trees. Well done, I say, well done. A book of southern grace and southern cussedness, showcasing a writer fully deserving of the H.L. Mencken Award he received in 1992, who is still at the top of his form.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Always a very entertaining read. I have read every book by him that I know of and some magazine articles as well. Ivory tower liberalism that I enjoy not agreeing with, but love his witty take on various people and subjects. Wish he was more prolific.
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