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Southern writers have a unique talent for feel, touch, smell, and taste that doesn t seem to exist anywhere else. Truman Capote had this extraordinary gift. So did Flannery O Connor, Eudora Welty, Carson McCullers, and Tennessee Williams among others. They felt the snow, smelled the honeysuckle, heard the wind through the loblolly pines, tasted the sweet tea. And they got it down on paper with a wrenching sensitivity that turned into literature. Diane Ladd has it, too as an actress, as a humanitarian, and as a writer of prose that makes cracker barrel talk as down-home unpretentious as a buttermilk biscuit suddenly sound downright patrician. The characters in these stories laugh, cry, bleed and leave behind a legacy not easily forgotten. They come from Mississippi towns called Meridian, Poplarville, and Tupelo, and end up in cities called Chicago, San Francisco, and Manhattan, but no matter how they learn or lose or love, they never cease to cherish a Porsche 911 GT2 or a cold bottle of Orange Crush with equal relish. Diane Ladd is one of them. From the Mississippi Delta to Broadway and Hollywood, she has forgotten nothing and retained everything. What a thrill to read what she knows in the words of characters as rich and colorful as fields of sunflowers: a man whose homophobia backfires because he s wearing an orange jacket, a garden that flourishes from the bodies of mercury-poisoned miners in the cemetery underneath, a statuesque mulatto on her first day at Juilliard. You can t learn this stuff in a writing class. You absorb the stories you hear, hold them close, stamp them in your memory. Then on a bad afternoon for a piece of cake, you write them down and tell them to the world, the way they were told to you. And you become a Southern writer, on your way to a new adventure. How blessed we are to share this one with Diane Ladd
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