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Bettie's Books

A Stuga On the Cusp of the Orust Riviera, tucked away next to a hobbit hole in the woods.

Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads by Paul Theroux

Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads - Paul Theroux
bookshelves: autumn-2015, published-2015, radio-4, nonfiction, north-americas, southern, travel
Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from August 27 to September 04, 2015




Paul Theroux has spent fifty years crossing the globe, adventuring in the exotic, seeking the rich history and folklore of the far away. Now, for the first time, in his tenth travel book, Theroux explores a piece of America — the Deep South. He finds there a paradoxical place, full of incomparable music, unparalleled cuisine, and yet also some of the nation’s worst schools, housing, and unemployment rates. It’s these parts of the South, so often ignored, that have caught Theroux’s keen traveler’s eye. On road trips spanning four seasons, wending along rural highways, Theroux visits gun shows and small-town churches, laborers in Arkansas, and parts of Mississippi where they still call the farm up the road “the plantation.” He talks to mayors and social workers, writers and reverends, the working poor and farming families — the unsung heroes of the south, the people who, despite it all, never left, and also those who returned home to rebuild a place they could never live without.

1/5: . He's in Tusacaloona, in a car park, thinking about going to church. In a vehicle beside him sits Lucille, all black silk and lacey sleeves - "You lost, baby?" Her welcoming words are typical of the South.

2/5: In Greensboro he meets the impressive Rev. Eugene Lyles, aged 79, who has his own church, his own barber shop and runs the local diner on Main Street. So, time for a haircut, then some lunch...

3/5: The author stays at the 'Blue Shadows Bed and Breakfast' in Greensboro, and through its owner, Janet May, meets Randall Curb. And through Curb he will then encounter the legendary Mary Ward Brown, short story writer, aged 96.

4/5: 4. At Aiken's steeplechase event he meets well-healed locals, mainly horse people and cotton baron descendents. Then he visits a hovel, once inhabited by Melvin Johnson, who has stories to tell..

5/5: He takes to the backroads of Georgia and Alabama, which smell of sun-heated tar. The fields are full of cotton and the big rivers beckon..

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