"Robert Brinkmeyer has discovered an important new direction in Southern writing. He shows how contemporary Southern writers have begun investigating the history and interrogating the myth of the West and, in the process, reinventing the literary traditions of their region. Fresh perception spring from nearly every page, and the argument as a whole is at once innovative, provocative, and thoroughly convincing. This indispensable and wonderfully informative book will help to redraw the map of Southern literature, and it confirms Brinkmeyer's reputation as one of the leading figures in Southern studies."
—Richard Gray, author of Writing the South
"Brinkmeyer writes a lively, elegant prose . . . full of useful truths that remind his audience of why they read: to locate themselves and their cultures. His thesis is provocative . . . Highly recommended."
One of the most significant and surprising developments in contemporary southern fiction is that an increasing number of southern writers are writing about the American West. In Remapping Southern Literature: Contemporary Southern Writers and the West, Robert H. Brinkmeyer Jr. studies current southern authors of western novels, historical fiction, and contemporary fiction who have been breaking the mold of southern literature by looking westward. Cut loose, in the postmodern age, from the traditional roots in a sense of place, contemporary southern writers have explored an American West shaped by the myths of lawless freedom and disruptive expansion. The rich and diverse fiction of Doris Betts, Barry Hannah, Cormac McCarthy, Madison Smartt Bell, Richard Ford, Rick Bass, Barbara Kingsolver, Chris Offutt, Frederick Barthelme, Dorothy Allison, and Clyde Edgerton, among others, challenges long-standing definitions of southern fiction and regional identity and reconfigures the myths of the West that have long shaped American life.
In Remapping Southern Literature, Brinkmeyer proposes that today’s southern writers are not by this shift abandoning southern culture but are instead expanding its reach by seeking to balance the ideals of the South and West. This effort points toward a new literary tradition and a new regional and national mythology that blends place and space, settlement and movement, community and individualism, security and freedom.