More on Books of Southern Wit

I've written before about my opinions on Books of Southern Wit, and I have a little bit more to say about them. I recently have read two books of Southern Wit (and listened to a third), and now I am just frustrated. I am determined to get to the bottom of this, and then do something about it.

I just finished Being Dead is No Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral, which I had high high hopes for, and it was just meh. I think it has an identity crisis as to what it is: is it a book of Southern humor, or is it a cookbook? I have complained before about how every damn book of Southern Wit (lets call those BSWs) feels like it needs to have gobs and gobs of recipes in it. Hooo, boy! We Southerners love to EAT! Get it?! Hey Yankee! You know what we do real good? We cook fattening foods! Ooohweeee, we sure do love fat and lard--wanna make some recipes at home?


First of all, the majority of people of reading BSW are people from the South themselves, and we already know how to make these things. Or if not these things, our own things which are just as good if not better. We grew up cooking just like you did and eating the same things. Being Dead is No Excuse is about HALF recipes, most of which for gross things like aspic and mayonnaise. Ugh. So anyways, I am reading this book, reading the stories, skipping the recipes and BOOM! It just stops. Index! There is no afterward or "in summary." Just the Index. DONE! O-K.

What also bugs me about this book is that it spends half the time referencing other things in the book. I get, authors--you like your damn homemade mayo in everything and you are all prim and proper and yes, I am familiar with your slick ham and mayo concept, and no, I don't need a page number to refer back to your mayo or your pantry list for the third time. Ugh. With a few exceptions (ok, I love cheese straws and chocolate cake) I wouldn't want to eat anything that they are bringing to this funeral. And maybe the Delta is different than Central MS, but everything they mention is so dainty. They even say that nobody wants BBQ at a funeral and not to serve big biscuits cause no one in the South likes big food. Wha? The people who brought Goldies to our house after Dad died were my heroes and no "big food?!" Come on.

I know that it is a BSW, but there is absolutely no mention of actually being sad or grieving the loss of a loved one--everything is written as if you are going to a big party and you should act totally normal and be totally ok except for maybe getting tipsy (but not too tipsy) over a cocktail. These must be the same people who think it is ok to ask advice about digital cameras a mere hour after you've buried your father. (true story).

Ok, so maybe I am being to hard on the book. Maybe I had too high of expectations. Maybe my new career needs to be writing the 20/30 something's guide to dealing with a funeral and how to cope and move forward. I guarantee I can be more realistic than this.

I am also noticing a trend that I find to be true in Southern Women, too--there is lots and lots of hemming and hawing and alluding to things, without ever just coming out and saying them. Who on earth wants to read a book of vague hints to other things? Just be bold and be unafraid--you'll be a lot happier and clearer if you do.

The other book I read recently was the Sweet Potato Queens Guide to Raising Children for Fun and Profit. Though I don't think it was the best of the SPQ books, I laughed so hard I cried at points and I still think that Jill Conner Browne is the best at what she does (for example, she curses like a sailor and is NEVER afraid to say exactly what she is meaning). I just found out that there is a new book, American Thighs that I am going to have to read. And I am going to attempt to finish the other blah book I started, that Suck Your Stomach in book, and after that I guess I need to delve more into Mom's friend Celia Rivenbark's books, since she is a total sweetheart. (That pic on her site makes her look like she has an arm tattoo, though--I am sad that she doesn't).

Sigh. All in the name of research, right?

Sidenote--I am still checking books off my list!