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Southern Sin: True Stories of the Sultry South and Women Behaving Badly Paperback – March 18, 2014
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Attach the word sin to any other region of the country—Pacific Northwest, Midwest, heck, even the Mid-Atlantic—and it not only sounds wrong, it comes off as downright silly. But the South? Ah, now there’s a match made in heaven. What’s even more divine is that the sinners are all women: good ol’ gals and Victorian renegades, sullen students and sultry soccer moms who suffer from an excess of emotion, a surfeit of sensuality. Gutkind (You Can’t Make This Stuff Up, 2012) and Fennelly (Unmentionables, 2008) collect the works of 23 observant writers who catch obliging women in the act of doing outrageous things that run the gamut from slightly inappropriate to almost evil and somehow leave them feeling just right. When they trade their comfort zone for a danger zone, it’s not that they’re looking for love in all the wrong places; sometimes some good old sex will do. In each of these true stories, the search for identity and acceptance, attention and excitement manifests itself in myriad ways, but always with the heart of Dixie at its core. --Carol Haggas
People say that God listens most to the prayers of a hard sinner and Southerners do everything hard: love, fight, pray, drink, and live. There’s nobody I’d rather have on my side than a sultry, sinning, Southern woman. Read this book and you’ll understand why.” —Chris Offutt, author of Kentucky Straight
This delicious collection slyly moves between dramatic transgressions—slicing your lover’s throat or refusing to aid a woman who may just have been assaulted—and small transgressions—slapping your Mama on the face, shoplifting cheap bras at the mall, poking through your mentor’s trash to discover the twirls of dental floss before fondling her shower gel, insisting that a vibrator adverse lesbian try one—never missing a beat, as author after author confesses, brags, tells, a story of a woman dancing with the devil—all alone or in raggedy company. Over and over again the heroines of these true histories discover being wildly lost often leads to being self-found. Southern Sin is a significant addition to liberation literature that transcends regionalism even as it celebrates it. At the center of this project is a breaking and re-making of the American Puritan concept of the power of confession.”
—Alice Randall, author of The Wind Done Gone
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Top Customer Reviews
Anthologies often bring a shudder due to the inconsistency of their stories. After all, even if one writes on the same topic as others, that does not mean that one's writing is as good - or as bad - as the next writer's. Anthologies are notoriously tricky to compile and to read. There are always weak stories that don't hold their weight, there are always pieces that are the proverbial weak link. BUT, not in SOUTHERN SIN. The first and best compliment to the book is that the editors really sought out very good writing, and with a couple of possible exceptions, the stories move smoothly, one into another, allowing the reader to sometimes forget that this is, indeed, an anthology, and that twenty-six writers contributed to it. Or, the continuity and smoothness could also be credited to the editing . . .
Some writers chose to write essays on historical happenings or "sinful" women from the past in the American South. Louella Bryant introduces us to a female bootlegger and Sonja Livingston chooses to tell us about Fred and Allie, real women in long-ago Memphis. These pieces are informative, well-presented, and make us curious to know more about these individuals who lived in times other than ours. Other writers write about - themselves. Nothing new there, but perhaps the way they create their story is more novel; nothing tells more about an individual than his or her response to the word "sin."
To Adriana Paramo, lusting after a man not her husband because she loves the way he speaks Spanish is a sin. To the reader, this may well be one of the most appealing and poetic stories in the collection. To Mendy Knott, unbeknowingly taking her elderly parents to a lesbian film with lots of sex scenes is a project for writing about sin. One never knows what another is thinking: Sheryl St. Germain writes about vaginal atrophy.
There are writers in the anthology who verge on noir. Look for Molly Langmuir's "What Was Left" as an example. There are writers who deal with sin through humor. Check out Katie Burgess's very funny "Rahab's Thread." There's something for everyone here in the sultry south. Southern staples such as bootlegging, wedding planning, and Baptist churches make their appearance but so do a lot of other, unexpected themes.
Good job, Gutkind and Fennelly. Good editing. Great editing, actually. And the writers? Well, when one looks over the brief bios at the end of the book, it is obvious that these scribes are a well-educated bunch - PhDs and MFAs are peppered throughout the credits. Many of the contributors teach at or run creative writing programs at universities. For good writing, good entertainment, and a few thoughts on the vagaries of sin, pick up a copy of SOUTHERN SIN.