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Rough South, Rural SouthRegion and Class in Recent Southern Literature$
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Jean W. Cash and Keith Perry

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781496802330

Published to University Press of Mississippi: May 2017

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781496802330.001.0001

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date: 20 July 2018

Lee Smith: A Diamond from the Rough

Lee Smith: A Diamond from the Rough

(p.145) Lee Smith: A Diamond from the Rough
Rough South, Rural South

Linda Byrd Cook

University Press of Mississippi

This chapter discusses Lee Smith's fiction, which consistently probes the crises of identity that plague so many contemporary Americans, particularly women. Born on November 1, 1944, in the southwestern Virginia coal-mining town of Grundy, Lee Smith was an only child and a voracious reader. Smith recalls that growing up in Grundy, she consciously tried to conform to the image of an aspiring southern “lady.” Initially Smith wrote about romantic and foreign subjects, but after encountering Eudora Welty's work in a southern literature course, she realized the importance of writing from one's experience. Like other members of her generation of southern writers, Smith creates a full, complex world of characters who confirm some stereotypes and transcend others. Her novels include The Last Day the Dogbushes Bloomed (1968), The Last Day the Dogbushes Bloomed—Something in the Wind (1971), Fancy Strut (1973), Black Mountain Breakdown (1980), Family Linen (1985), Fair and Tender Ladies (1988), Saving Grace (1995), and On Agate Hill (2006).

Keywords:   women, Lee Smith, identity, southern literature, southern writers, Family Linen, Saving Grace, On Agate Hill

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