I love Imani Perry because her writing is smooth. Her topics are always cool. And she is willing to talk about herself. Vexy Thing is a big favorite of mine, but I like all her books. I saw that this new one was about the south and that she’s from Birmingham (she teaches at Princeton), and I was like okay yea definitely getting this–I just took a trip down there earlier this year.
South to America is a cultural analysis of the south. It’s her personal and historical reading of the region. She goes from city to city, state to state and experiences it and thinks about it often as a guest and as a southerner herself. She does touristy things and academic things and family things. But the core of each chapter was about understanding historical matters–enslavement, farming, eating. She faces all that head on in a way to demystify the stereotypes and to show what this all says about America as a whole.
I really liked the physical movement of this book. Sometimes she’s in a city to visit, other times she’s there intellectually, looking back at previous travels. She is thoughtful always or as she says “nosey.” She pokes around and looks around and documents what she sees, hears, and feels. It kind of reminded me of Alice Walker in that way. In In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens, Walker is doing something similar–going, looking, touching, talking, reflecting.
Best line: Murderous hypocrisy is an old American habit. (Perry 34)