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Grit Lit
A Rough South Reader

Edited by Brian Carpenter and Tom Franklin

An anthology of memoir and fiction by some of the most acclaimed writers in contemporary Southern literature

Drawing on storytelling traditions as old as Southern literature itself, Grit Lit is the first anthology devoted to contemporary writing about the Rough South. From literary legends to emerging voices, the acclaimed writers featured in this collection view their hardscrabble South without romanticism or false nostalgia, not through moonlight and magnolia but moonshine and Marlboros.

This is the dirty South as captured by those rooted in its land yet able to share its stories with candor and courage. Grit Lit guides readers through tales both tall and true, intoxicating stories of loss, violence, failure, feuds, family, and—above all—survival against the odds. Raw and raucous, Grit Lit gathers some of the most provocative writing to come out of the South in the last thirty years. With a preface by Edgar Award–winning author Tom Franklin and Brian Carpenter's introduction to the genre's origins and influences, this bold anthology lays bare the Rough South in all its battered glory and dares readers not to stare in awe.

A graduate of Centre College and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Brian Carpenter is a freelance writer and editor. His articles on the South have appeared in Southern Cultures, Southern Literary Journal, Southern Review, The Companion to Southern Literature, and the anthology Cornbread Nation 1: The Best Southern Food Writing.

A native of Dickinson, Alabama, Tom Franklin is the Edgar Award–winning author of Poachers, Hell at the Breech, Smonk, and the New York Times best seller Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter. Franklin teaches creative writing at the University of Mississippi in Oxford.

"There may be too many good manners and cupcakes, too much prissibility, in what is fashionably called 'Southern Literature.' Here in Grit Lit you'll find some needed and necessary cutting to the bone, some ass kicking, drooling, yelling, and shooting up the house and refrigerator, some use of tools from a toolshed, not a toolbar. Some hurt and love. And some delicate, precision writing by talented women and men writers, including those we've lost too soon: McLaurin, Brown, and now Gay, Hannah, Crews, and Nordan. The whole world needs this book, its daring and direct stare, its treasures."—Clyde Edgerton, author of The Bible Salesman and The Night Train

"Bravo! As an enthusiast of literature of the 'Rough South,' I am thrilled to see this latest recognition in an extraordinary reader. Tom Franklin's thorough definition of the term grit helps readers like me to accept the term that even Larry Brown found offensive as applied to his work and himself. Brian Carpenter's introduction to the collection is complete—eminently informative and sensitively written. I also applaud the broad range of writers included in the volume. When I teach 'Writers of the Rough South' again, this outstanding reader will be part of the class materials. The general enthusiast of literature of the South, too, will relish its content."—Jean W. Cash, author of Larry Brown: A Writer's Life

"Hats off to the editors and publisher who 'birthed' this amazing and needed anthology representing the best of a provocative subsegment of southern American literature. . . . There is lots of beer drinkin', fast drivin', and cussin' going on in these pieces by such rousing bright lights in the southern firmament as Dorothy Allison, Larry Brown, Barry Hannah, and William Gay. The book is inaugurated on the highest plateau with the late Harry Crews' opening segment, 'A Childhood: The Biography of a Place,' one of the best father remembrances you'll ever read. . . . The lifestyles and lives all of these authors write about may not be sweet, but the ring of quality throughout the book is certainly sweet to the ear."—Booklist (starred review)

"New York Times best-seller Franklin and freelancer Carpenter anthologize here for the first time Grit Lit—bleak, violent, and sometimes blackly funny stories of 'poor southern white' folks—in an attempt to 'refocus the attention back where it belongs—on the writing itself rather than on the alleged exploits of the contributors.' Featured here are Rough South mainstays such as Harry Crews, Dorothy Allison, and Barry Hannah, as well as some lesser-known writers like Anne Pancake and newcomer Alex Taylor. . . . These selections do reveal the genre's breadth, from realism to postmodernism, from Southern gothic to country noir. . . . Students, teachers, and Rough South devotees will also find helpful the critical and recommended reading, viewing, and listening sections hunkered in the back of the book."—Publishers Weekly

"For those looking for a primer in Rough South writing, this is the ultimate source. For those wanting to get lost in a good story or two, prepare to lose a few hours. And for those needing a punch in the gut, this collection is the fist."—ForeWord Reviews

"This is the real 'Help.' The real war in Iraq you never saw on TV. The yellow fever epidemic in Memphis back when a plague was a plague, not a threat. You'll get a look at the darkest side of our antebellum past and an unflinching look at climate change. You'll read (in a colorful new format) the true story of the Carter family and their long journey out of the hills of Virginia to become the first musical superstars. And in a collection of memoir and fiction that's as potent as a Mason jar of white lightning, you're going to find some of the hardest-hitting writing to ever come out of the South."—The Atlanta Journal-Constitution



Grit Lit


6 x 9
336 pages
ISBN 978-1-61117-083-2
paperback, $24.95t

Winner, ForeWord Reviews 2012 Book of the Year—Anthologies

Dorothy Allison
Will Allison
Pinckney Benedict
Rick Bragg
Larry Brown
Harry Crews
Tim Gautreaux
William Gay
Jim Grimsley
Barry Hannah
Tim McLaurin
Robert Morgan
Lewis Nordan
Chris Offutt
Ann Pancake
Breece D'J Pancake
Dale Ray Phillips
Ron Rash
George Singleton
Lee Smith
Alex Taylor
Brad Watson
Daniel Woodrell


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