Re: RARA-AVIS: Southern Gothic

From: Michael Robison (
Date: 27 Feb 2003

Mark E. Hall wrote:
> I guess this would be my question overall---how the heck are you
> defining Southern Gothic?
> By setting alone, or by the author's personal history, etc.? I mena for
> example, by many scholars Bierce is seen as a California writer, not a
> Southern Gothic writer.

Also, Bill Denton asked how it related to noir.

************* I am defining Southern Gothic as noir that is distinctly Southern. That's southern USA. SANCTUARY makes the grade and had a strong influence on noir, period. Very dark and twisted. It involved crime that went beyond the profit motive and way into a wicked Freudian nightmare.

I put Harry Crews's FEAST OF SNAKE in the same category. And Dickey's DELIVERANCE too. I might even give the tag to Caldwell's TOBACCO ROAD. Anybody that thinks that book is simply funny and not scary isn't reading it the same way I do.

I've heard that Woodrell, Flannery O'Connor, and a few others fit the bill, too, but I haven't read them.

Southern Gothic is hardcore hardboiled and noir. There are some specific characteristics which I have found common to the three or four I have read besides being tough and colloquial and dark and sinister. Sex. Raw, nasty, violent, or deviant. Crime that don't have a damn thing to do with money. Crime for the pleasure of it (SANCTUARY, DELIVERANCE). Crime 'cuz they're just sick of it all and feel like doing some killin' (FEAST OF SNAKES). Crime that they're too damn stupid to even recognize as crime (TOBACCO ROAD).

Hardcore. Hardboiled. Noir.


# To unsubscribe from the regular list, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to
#  This will not work for the digest version.
# The web pages for the list are at .

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 27 Feb 2003 EST