by Duffie Taylor
South is a book that defies description. It is not a book of fiction. It is not a book of history or mythology. It is not a book of poetic prose. If W.J.’s Cash’s book The Mind of the South were to marry Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D Major, South would not have a replica but a kinsman in its ambition to imaginatively investigate the region’s place within America’s collective consciousness. But even that descriptor falls shy of the mark because, for the book, America is not a place but an ideal that dwells deep in the human soul and psyche, irrespective of geographical coordinates. As does the South, for in every human collective there exists a place, a backwards, errant, boiling netherworld, where fallen Gods linger like devils, and dark estranged desires wrestle and betray each other for want of hope. But it is hope that makes this world, infusing its every prodigal aspect with heart and hilarity, pretty lies and the fundamental redemptive truth that union with God and another exists as much here as in any home, any elsewhere we find ourselves.
Duffie Taylor is a human being. She’s done many things and failed many times. She’s been a student, a newspaper reporter, an ESL teacher, a conservationist, a college instructor, and unemployed. She received a B.A. in English from Hollins University and an MFA from University of Massachusetts Amherst, though she’s unsure she deserved either accreditation. More importantly, she doesn’t care, as accreditations and accolades don’t really concern her. She currently spends her time teaching for various nonprofits that strive to help refugees, migrants, and underprivileged populations. She also continues to write and create as well as try her best to be a practicing Catholic. Her future ambition is to return to East Africa, which she considers her second home, to raise a family and join those working there to improve our planet. On good days, she’s highly productive while also saying wise and funny things and being kind to people. On bad days, she’s commenting on YouTube, thinking unduly long about the Zodiac, overdosing on her anxiety medication, and smoking far too many cigarettes. Her lifelong ambition is to be entirely herself while remaining outside the psych ward at the same time.