Recommend some Southern fiction for a man who knows what he likes


I’ve always been partial to fiction of the American South. Folks like Faulkner & Morrison, of course, are the gold standard but I’ve found myself prefering less, shall we say, opaque fare these days. My tastes tend towards the southerners who use brief, cutting language, grotesques, and thick helpings humor, whether lighthearted or blackhearted. You know, people like:

  • Flannery O’Connor
  • Michael Malone
  • Harry Crews
  • Carson McCullers

Any other afficionados out there? I’d love some recommendations as I’ve packed all my books for a big move and am at a loss for reading.

(And, although I’ve specifically requested southerners, I’d definitely check out any authors you think employ similar sensibilities without actually setting their stories in the American South. Thanks, as always)

Read anything by William Gay. Also check out Tom Franklin; his short story collection “Poachers” was excellent.

The Untidy Pilgrim, by Eugene Walter.

Obviously, A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole

Search on this message board for posts by Sampiro.

Although most of it isn’t fiction, you’ll still get a kick out of it.

I’m assuming you’ve read All The King’s Men but I’ll mention it anyway.

For a non-Southern writer who might appeal to your tastes, try Jim Harrison. Probably best known for Legends of the Fall, but I prefer many of his other books.

For non-fiction, Rick Bragg is good Southern memoirist.

Eudora Welty, and if you don’t mind reading plays, Tennessee Williams.

How about Larry McMurtrey?

Yes, Texas is not “The South”–except for East Texas. His great Lonesome Dove is definitely Western, but most of his earlier stuff is set in urban Texas. (Of course, you ought to read *Lonesome Dove *anyway.)

I’ll check for specific recommendations. Meanwhile–the Literature Mapplaces him in an interesting territory.

Guys—these are exactly what I’m looking for. Just wanted to chime in and thank everyone while the recommendations come in (and please do keep them coming). My library trip tomorrow will require a shopping cart. Or a mule.

He tends to be a one trick pony, but I like Pat Conroy. I happen to like his writing style, even if there’s always some kind of incest and sadistic father around.

Pete Dexter’s Paris Trout is a pretty good read, once again if you like insane characters. Dennis Hopper did a pretty good portrayal of him in the movie.

I really love Cormac McCarthy’s Southern Gothic novels. Sutree would be a good start. I didn’t really care for his border trilogy. A lot of people don’t care for his flowery prose (and I suspect, made up words sometimes), but I really like it.

Does Southern Florida count? Carl Hiassen is one of my favorite authors.

I’ve never gotten too into Hiassen. Or Tim Dorsey for that matter. Florida frightens me.

You know William Styron’s work has a real Southern vibe, even, yes, Sophie’s Choice. Read it.

One that’s newer and doesn’t get much attention is George Singleton’s The Half-Mammals of Dixie.

It frightens Hiaasen, too. That’s why he’s so funny.

I’m a big fan of the late Larry Brown (

How about Donna Tartt’s book the Little Friend? She also wrote the Secret History (not Southern) which got a lot of critical acclaim. Little Friend isn’t as good, but I really enjoyed it.

Try to find some of Mary Hood’s short stories. Should be right up your alley, and I can’t recommend her highly enough. Here’s a sample.

…and it looks like there are some used copies available on Amazon.

Oh, and also try Mary Hood’s And Venus Is Blue.

Sample here.

and I’ll add Clyde Edgerton.

I’ll second the recommendations for William Gay, Larry Brown, and Clyde Edgerton, and add Larry Watson. Oh! And Donald Ray Pollock, author of Knockemstiff. Ohio’s not really the south, but maybe it should be.

Edna O’Brien sometimes reminds me of Flannery O’Connor, so you might check her out too.