Michelle Richmond/San Fransisco/Bluegrass and the Southern Connection
On the second day at the Chattanooga Southern Writer’s conference, I met Michelle Richmond, who won the Hillsdale Award for fiction. She is little bitty wisp of a red-haired young woman from the hotbed of Southern Literature, San Fransisco. (O.K., she grew up in Alabama) I hated to admit it but I didn’t know much more about San Fransisco than the fact they used to say on T.V. it was the home of Rice-a-Roni.
Ms. Richmond doesn’t look like she could have lived long enough to see much tragedy, but she figured out how to write about it. I got a chance to talk to after her talk and kidded her about California and Southern Lit, and she told me there was a thriving scene there.
I wasn’t surprised. Mike Marshall grew up in Florida. He might be the world’s best mandolinist, and he lives out that way now. Years ago when the Dillards (the Andy Griffith Darling family) were coming along, they lit out for California from the Ozarks with no more of a business plan than “there can’t be too many pickers in Hollywood.” It is no longer true in bluegrass, so it was no shock it ain’t the case in Southern Lit either.
If a hip young lady from San Fransisco can write Southern Lit and speak Southern with a country doctor, then it proves to me Southern is a state of mind more than a place. I haven’t read her book yet, but I need to. If any of y’all have read her work, I hope you’ll let me know.
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