The Green Room

Article excerpt


"Here's a marvellous convenient place for our rehearsal."

The story of the Southern Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's was largely written by Martin Luther King, Jr. and his forces of nonviolence, but the Movement did not attract black Southerners only. Though not large in numbers, there were white Southerners who joined the effort to bring down Jim Crow and his system of racial segregation. To FRED HOBSON, this was "that curious history of what I might call the white Southern racial conversion narrative-that literature of the mid and late 20th century in which white Southerners told of coming up from racism and embracing racial brotherhood and sisterhood." Two of the more "compelling" narratives, in MR. HOBSON'S view, both appeared in 1971, namely Larry L. King's Confessions of a White Racist and Pat Watter's Down To Now: Reflections on the Southern Civil Rights Movement. These narratives are the subject of his VQR essay. They are also part of his forthcoming book, But Now I See: The White Southern Racial Conversion Narrative which will be published by L.S.U. Press later this year. The book is the outgrowth of the annual Fleming Lectures at Louisiana State University which MR. HOBSON gave in the spring of 1998.

FRED HOBSON is Lineberger Professor in the Humanities at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is also the author of Mencken: A Life (1994) and co-editor of the Southern Literary Journal published by the English department at U.N.C. MR. HOBSON is also a dedicated, if not fanatic, fan of the Tar Heel basketball team.

In its long history;, the South has been as much influenced by religion as it has by racism. Thus, "the Southern way of religion" was the subject of the Boys Blackwellll lecture recently given at Emory and Henry College by historian John B. Boles and now reprinted in VQR. MR. BOLES received his Ph.D. degree in history from the University of Virginia, and is now the William Pettus Hobby Professor of History at Rice University in Houston. Texas. He is also the managing editor of The Journal of Southern History.

ZW.D. WETHERELL is the author of three nOvels, three collections of short stories, and numerous non-fiction works including One River More published in 1998. MR. WETHERELL s personal narrative and memoir, North of Now, was published last spring. He also is a recipient of the 1998 Mildred and Harold Strauss Living award which awards a writer $50,000 annually for five years, allowing him or her to devote their time exclusively to writing. MR. WETHERELL was also the recipient of two creative writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (1982 and 1988), two 0. Henry awards, and the 1985 Drue Heinz Literature Prize. His stories and essays have appeared in many newspapers and magazines including The Nee York Times, and VOR. He lives in the hills of western New Hampshire.

JEFFREY MEYERS has long been one of VQR's most loyal contributors. His essay on the American tragedy of the Hemingways evolved from his research in writing a biography of Ernest Hemingway which appeared in 1985. MR. MEYERS recently completed a collection of essays called Beneath the Surface: Life and Art in Hemingiay which will be published this year. Also in 1999, he will publish a Korean translation of his biography of Joseph Conrad, German and Polish translations of Humphrey Bogart and paperback editions of his biographies of Hemingway(lv, Bogart, and Gary Cooper; and with the University of California Press, introductions of three volumes of screenplays by Billy Wilder.

NEIL D. ISAACS is professor of English at the University of Maryland at College Park, and a practicing family therapist. Among his recent books are The Great Molina,s, a novel, and Vintage NBA, a mostly oral history of the National Basketball Association. A novel in stories, The Miller Masks, of which "The Swannanoa Review" is part, is due out in the fall. He is also currently completing a study of pathological gambling entitled You Bet Your Life. …