Writing on Things Southern and Past

When visiting Joe and his wife Barbara six years ago in Winchester, Virginia, I convinced Joe to show me some of his unpublished writing. He was reluctant, appearing almost embarrassed, and said the writing was not good and that was why it was never published. He gave me a file folder containing nine essays, typed with handwritten changes and corrections.

These essays were beautiful. Maybe essays is not the right word. Short stories might be better.

I wanted to start posting the essays on this website. Joe argued, of course. Several months later when Joe was visiting me in Mexico, I finally got his approval to post the nine essays — but he insisted that they not be displayed on the home page. His logic on this made no sense to me, but rather than belabor the point, I told him I would back-date the posts and make a separate category called "Things Southern". 

Then, Joe's agent negotiated a film/TV option with HBO and part of that agreement was that the Things Southern essays would be taken down. The HBO deal fizzled. So now, five years later, I have pulled the nine essays from my files and I will repost them over the next several weeks.

Below is Joe's introduction to Things Southern.

– Ken Smith, ken@kvsmith.com


Websites are a wonderful thing in that they can house a lifetime of work if need be. I'm not up for the world to see all I have written. So much of it, both published and unpublished is so bad. However, I do think some of it documents or speaks to an America that scarcely exists today, one that was kinder, more mysterious and certainly more connected with the earth and its verities. In this section, "Things Southern," rests a collection of essays, notes, remembrances and mental shards of a Southern boyhood in Virginia. Some are absolutely true, some shift back and forth between truth and fiction and some are outright lies. I will leave it to the reader to discern the difference. I certainly cannot.

– Joe Bageant 

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