Southern fried stories

Dixon Hearne teaches in Southern California, but his roots run deep in the Mississippi Delta—as do his stories. Plantatia: High-toned and Low-down Stories of the South is set deep in magnolia country, where a variety of characters in rural settings and small towns deal with life and each other. The title tale re-examines race and class, as Plantatia, an illegitimate, barely literate young woman trades a bad employer for a good one. In another, a small-town love triangle leads to a knock-down, drag-out bar fight and a shot at fame on Maury Povich’s show. A standard device to start a love story—a man spies a woman bathing near a bayou sandbar—turns out to be anything but straightforward. These stories rely on character development, and demonstrate that “country” or “Southern” are not synonyms for “dumb.” Instead, there are wise folks and fools, and it’s not as easy as one might think to tell the two apart.