Redneck Riveria

28 10 2008

My book club just finished reading Where the River Ends by Charles Martin. It was a touching and wonderful book, and I highly recommend it. The story takes place along the St. John’s River, and heavily throughout the South–especially Charleston, South Carolina.

Mr. Martin lives in the South, so he knows Southerners – the people, the culture, the land. But there were numerous passages which were dead on when it came to describing our thinking.

One of my favorites comes up when Doss and Abbie are floating up the river, and happen upon an impromptu cookout inspired by an impending hurricane (don’t we all know our fair share of those this year!). The group was a fun gang of those we all know and love—rednecks. He has some charming things to say, and while the word “redneck” often causes shame among our parts, this passage describes most Southerners I’ve come across in general, so I’ll gladly share it here:

 

“Some work at the grocery store checkout counter, stock shelves at the auto parts store, sling feed bags at the local hardware, work for the forestry department or a master welder, shoe horses, deliver rural mail or sell cattle, real estate or, more than likely, pine trees. They talk slower, often stretching two syllables into five, use phrases that make little sense on the surface, dip Cophenhagen and drink beer simultaneously, and have no desire to understand a New York minute. Admittedly, college degrees are not the norm, Ph.D.’s are few, and while outsiders drive across the bridge and see little more than a bunch of rednecks, they’d do well to never confuse cultural difference with ignorance or stupidity. Beneath the twangy exterior, they value common sense, make do with less, laugh easily and will give you the shirt off their backs—they are the salt of the earth. When you’re not in a hurry, pull up a chair and you will find your stomach full and that laughter has creased your face with wrinkles.”

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