The South Is Round by David Magee

SouthSouthern humor is a widely (or double-widely) published and popular topic.  Much of it pokes fun at the basest of our traits – this playful derision can be tiresome at worst, and dead brilliant at best.  I can read the Jeff Foxworthys of the genre and laugh, and Roy Blount Jr., although Blount tends to be above my head.  Florence King rang pretty true for me for a while there; she writes with a mighty keen wit that’s hard to beat.  And I just heard of this David Magee fella…

The book’s title is funny enough – a word play on the title of Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat, and maybe a cursory statement about Southern eating habits.  David Magee isn’t Florence King, but he ponders well, and if you’re a Southerner that can laugh at yourself AND can visualize how the region has changed in the past twenty years, you will more than likely get some yuks in when reading The South Is Round.  Magee turns on end, in both wacky and sobering ways, good ol’ boy-isms, race relations, eating habits, and other Southern idiosyncrasies.  What I found particularly funny is his take on how some latter-day Southerners reconcile their redneck tendencies with newfound affluence and social standing (the turkey frying chapter still makes my sides ache).  He spares no barbs either – if you think this is one long paean to Dixie, think again.  There’s a serious critical edge to Magee’s essays.  And If you like his writing style, take a look at Moonpie:  Biography of an Out-of-this-word Snack.

Others of mention:  Celia Rivenbark (Magee will attest to her brand of humor) and Florence King, who can write barbs like no other. 

(William Hicks, Information Services)

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