Subjectively, it’s odd to think of “The South” as somewhere that starts past the edge of Ohio. As a northerner, the Virginias and other surrounding ‘southerly’ states were always somewhat reminiscent of what Ohio has to offer. From the Carolinas, and further south, is where I find the largest differentiations from the north in terms of the landscape both cultural and physical.
But the truth is I was sitting minding my own business one day and I got a call from my agent in New York who said, “Hey, you got any interest on doing a book on Jerry Lee Lewis?” So I said, “Yeah, sure!” Because how could it be dull?
It is around 7:45 A.M. at Fiery Fungi Organic Mushroom Farm. We are twenty minutes from Winchester (Kevin’s hometown) and directly below the mountain from The University of the South in Sewanee, where Kevin instructs in the English Department. We’re sitting down with five cats to discuss his upcoming novel, gender, and the particulars of growing up in a rural area.
We become who we become for reasons we cannot always know—because of what we saw our mothers love, or our fathers hate, and because of what we need deep down inside the parts of us that others don't know about, such as love, or security, or adoration.
When the American South searches its memory—and its institutional memory is powerful, to judge from prejudices and resentments with virtually prehistoric antecedents—it invariably revisits two great enemies who tower above the rest. It’s the Union General William Tecumseh Sherman and the Baltimore polemicist Henry Louis Mencken who provoke the most passionate curses from Confederate descendants with long memories.