a brief foray in Southern American Literature

Early in my career as a college student I chose classes with all the acuity of an epileptic baby seal. I was young in the process of figuring out that my love of reading was useful and not just a past-time I indulged on weekends. I was a Public Relations major taking about 9 out of 12 hours in Literature. Like I said, acuity of an epileptic baby seal.

One such class was Southern American Literature, an interesting genre for sure, not to be confused with Literature from South America (the continent). No, we spent the 18 weeks of the semester reading book after book filled with the insecurities and insanities of Americans raised in the Southern part of the United States. I read Other Voices, Other Rooms by Capote, John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain, and Harriet Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl and of course William Faulkner’s The Sound and The Fury. It was a depressing semester.

In high school I’d taken an American Literature course. We started that class with a collection of essays written by an explorer traipsing through the swampy bits of the South. In college I got to revisit these essays. It turned the swampy, sandy landscape of Florida into a monster inhabited, humidity soaked, land of the crazies. (Just imagine the description of Alligators from a guy who had never seen anything like it before.)

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monitor lizards & childlike awe

Yesterday I went to Busch Gardens with my friend Jenna. We went with the express purpose of petting kangaroos and wallabies.


Don’t you just want to pet him? It was pretty cool, but here’s the anecdote.

After we pet the marsupials we wandered around the park to see the cheetahs and meerkats. And finally we made our way into the section with Busch Garden’s Animal Ambassadors and the Cave of Curiosities. I found out that Burmese Pythons and Boa Constrictors make me want to hurl. And bats totally freak me out.

We passed a family standing in front of the monitor lizards. They were surprisingly active when we passed by and the little girl in the family persistently declared that one of them was attempting to escape.

don't want to pet him

It made me chuckle and remember that iconic scene in Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone when Harry visits the zoo and releases the python. I haven’t talked much about Pottermore here yet (it’s sort of unique and difficult to describe) but this scene was fairly cool in the “experience”.

The zoo, the aquarium, MOSI, all of these places you visit as a kid and are amazed are so much fun for me to revisit. It’s like caffeine for my imagination. I’m overwhelmed with fanciful ideas and nostalgic memories from my childhood. Theme parks are designed to entertain but I think they also do a good job of revealing the bits of everyday magic. The sort we forget and often pass over.

Speaking of everyday magic – Publix Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream is just perfectly delicious and magical. I’d suggest dipping out a scoop or two and settling in for some evening reading.