Admit it. You binge-listened the S-Town podcast and now you don’t know what to do with yourself. Who would blame you?
You could—and should—read our weekly analyses here on The Booklist Reader, and in-between, you can read these titles, linked to their excerpted Booklist reviews, and acquaint yourselves with other yarn-spinners, outcasts, fanatics, fools, and chimerical characters.
A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole
The story of a 30-year-old boy, monstrously fat, his drunken mama, and their unutterably awful life in New Orleans.
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, by Tom Franklin
Rural Mississippi in the 1970s was rife with racial tension, but skin color didn’t matter to boyhood companions Silas Jones and Larry Ott. Silas, the son of a poor, single black mother, and Larry, the child of white lower-middle-class parents, were both outsiders.
Driving on the Rim, by Thomas McGuane
Narrator Berl Pickett is a housepainter turned doctor who lives most of his life in Livingston, Montana, struggling to overcome a “gruesome immaturity” that causes him to relate poorly to his fellow citizens. His behavior is the source of both comedy and tragedy.
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Story, by John Berendt
This work is a wonderfully subtle and well-told story of life in Savannah, Georgia, during the eight years the New York-based Esquire magazine columnist spent there as an “experiment in bi-urban living.”
The Orchid Thief, by Susan Orlean
Orlean, a New York journalist, read an article in a Florida newspaper about several men arrested for stealing orchids from the Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve. Her curiosity aroused, she traveled to Florida and soon found herself both fascinated and repelled by the fanatical world of orchid collecting and by Florida’s surreal wetlands
Yonder Stands Your Orphan, by Barry Hannah
In a little community centered on a lake near Vicksburg, Mississippi, the main figure is Man Mortimer, a troublemaker from way back. Man Mortimer’s impact on his fellow lakeside dwellers causes bloodshed, intense sexual gratification, and religious duplicity to break out around him like a pox.
And here are three more classic novels of the South in all its eccentric glory:
Other Voices, Other Rooms, by Truman Capote
Sanctuary, by William Faulkner
Wise Blood, by Flannery O’Connor