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Long Time Leaving: Dispatches from Up South Hardcover – Deckle Edge, May 1, 2007

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This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (May 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307266184
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307266187
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 6.4 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #479,655 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Ever since beloved Southern writer Blount moved to Massachusetts, he's been trying to use his "regional ambivalence...to get Aunt Dixie and Uncle Sam on speaking terms." In this diverse collection of humorous essays and occasional verse, Blount tackles a number of topics, including Emmanuel Kant, the mind-boggling "Bushy Juggernaut" and the correct grammatical usage of y'all (always plural). Concerned largely with his own pleasures and peccadilloes, Blount sings the praises of New Orleans's jazzy Boswell sisters, staying up late and the company of Jack Russell terriers ("like living with a movie star who seems to be able to handle quite a lot of cocaine). On the other hand, Tom DeLay of Texas gets called "the thinking person's Satan," Garth Brooks and Forrest Gump both receive snubs, and caring about college sports in the Northeast draws comparison to "caring about French food in South Carolina." Adorned with poetical lists and quirky details, Blount's work is unflaggingly passionate and provocative over a range of subjects, including food, politics and all things Southern, and he's as likely to quote The Women's Times as Shakespeare or Zora Neale Hurston. A lively curmudgeon who's talked to just about everyone on just about everything (especially grits), Blount's energetic, unpredictable essays are sure-fire fan-pleasers, and fine discoveries for newcomers.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

It's gotta be tough to be Roy Blount Jr., a displaced southern liberal living in the Northeast. To hear him tell it, just about everyone he ever meets invariably blurts out something along the lines of "You know, the thing about the South is that it's just so [insert deprecatory simplification here]." Fortunately, Blount bristles at each and every one of them in the 70 or so pieces in this collection, culled mainly from articles and columns written for various publications. Although admittedly they begin to take on the quality of a broken record when lumped together, at least the needle is stuck on a pretty heady groove. With humor so dry you might miss it, Blount's flexible musings on all manner of subjects--history, politics, limericks, songs, food, songs about food--are uniformly sharp, even if he sometimes falls into making the same sort of sweeping generalizations that work him into such a lather to begin with. Droll but not necessarily folksy, and often rankled but never cantankerous, Blount is a quintessential opinionist when he writes, "I just wish the South would let me decide what it should change and what it shouldn't." Now watch him shake his fist and give 'em all what-for. Ian Chipman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Luanne Jones on May 23, 2007
Format: Audio CD
I got this on audio because I don't just love Blount's writing, I love his voice and the way he says things and phrases them, I even love his pauses. His accent got me through a near 2 year exile in the Great Forsaken Flatlands (Kansas City, MO) where a kind word much less a familiar turn of phrase was hard to come by -- so I really wish I could have given this book the full five stars. But, well, I just found it uneven. Some really good stuff mixed in with stuff that felt like it was just there to fill up the page, or the time if you were listening on audio. Still and all, every essay had something worth taking away from it and that's more than you can say about most things you read. And when Blount is good, he is charming, funny and right on.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Bennett L. Steelman on August 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Besides being a brilliant specimen of that endangered species, The White Southern Liberal, Blount is about as funny as any humanoid on the planet. "Long Time Leaving," an anthology of some of his occasional pieces, proves a little repetitious at points (how many times do you need to remind folks that "y'all" is plural?) but it offers a fine selection of his more amusing material. Few writers are capable of more deadly similes: For example, Blount's observation that Lewis Grizzard is to Southern humor as Stuckey's pecan logs are to Southern home cookin', or that Garth Brooks songs are like Waffle House waffles "except that every now and then a Waffle House waffle hits the spot." Blount flits from topic to topic like a fly on fertilizer, but that only serves to underline his point that Southerners aren't great abstract thinkers; they're more at home with the concrete and particular, which is their peculiar strength.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Vermeer fan VINE VOICE on August 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Despite being ensconced-or maybe because of-in the Berkshires, Mr. Blount casts an uneasy eye on contemporary Southern life and the larger American political scene. One gets the sense that since his Massachusetts neighbors and New York coworkers feel compelled to call upon him to explain certain Southern folkways and news events that the author has taken the time to distill his childhood and college years in the South into a bourbon that fuels his philosophizing.

The book is a collection of his essays that have appeared in various periodicals from the mid 1990's and later-food, travel, covering the KKK, life in Manhattan, the blues, a pinch of this and a smidgin of that. You have to have lived a couple of decades-mid 1950s and up would help-to get some of the references-or be willing to investigate the names, dates and places Mr. Blount mentions. You can read a couple of the essays before bed or a whole section on a lazy Sunday morning-it's easy to pick up and put down without losing track, kind of like an ongoing conversation with a friend. A well read, post graduate educated, erudite friend who hides behind the visage of a good ol' boy. The porch light is on and someone is definitely at home...

One caveat-the author is enamoured of a certain joke he uses to illustrate a point. Mr. Blount please get another line besides the "Do you believe in infant baptism? "H--l, I've seen one!"
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Rabid Reader on July 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
OK--I'm from up North, I will admit that directly---and it is important because when I first began to read this book, it seemed as though I were wading through verbal Mississippi mud. (Thus the 3 stars and not 4: these are stylistically difficult essays & may not feel accessible to all readers.) It's obvious that Blount is brighter than most, more well-read and beautifully educated---but boy, is his writing style convoluted. It's like listening to Huck Finn all grown up! But persevere, because difficult prose or not, this Huck Finn has something worthwhile to say, and he says it with marvelous humor, candor, and charm. Oh, and while I was reading the book, my 15-year old daughter saw the back cover (which I had missed) and said the book was worth buying for THAT alone.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Franco on January 12, 2010
Format: Paperback
I have been a Blount reader since "What Men Don't Tell Women," but had not taken up one of his books for some time. In this one, Blount's characteristic tone of bemused tolerance and appreciation is sometimes subverted by the type of stock political comments by which Blount's adopted tribe -- Northeastern liberals -- identify each other. Although Blount maintains a clear-eyed balance on vexed issues of race relations, southern and northern, in succumbing to the tendency of Southern liberals (his term)to be "more Catholic than the Pope" in matters of politics, Blount seems to be playing to the biases of his adopted region even as he seeks to dissolve biases regarding the realm of his origin. Whether that defensive reflex obscures a more considered but unarticulated approach is unclear, but Blount's resort to hackneyed derision in that context creates a sour aftertaste and raises questions regarding his judgments in areas about which a reader may be less informed.

When Blount ruminates on the South without trotting out his political credentials, however, he can still offer insight and even delight. His many appreciations of Mark Twain in this volume, for instance, expand one's appreciation of the strengths and tensions Twain's Southern background lent to that most American of writers. He matches that perspective by noting the extent to which "Southern culture" is African-American as much as Anglo/Celtic, one result of which is the influence that the South, riding the coat-tails of the all-pervasive African-American culture of the 20th century, has had on the United States generally. Corresponding to related and more extensive analyses by writers that have included Ralph Ellison and Albert Murray, the import of such a felt observation is enhanced by Blount's perspective as a white Southerner. Alongside such a welcome illumination, petty political snark is an unpleasant distraction.
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