Cover image for Due South : dispatches from down home
Due South : dispatches from down home
Brunner, R. Scott.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Villard, [1999]

Physical Description:
xvi, 151 pages ; 21 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F216.2 .B77 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating
F216.2 .B77 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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"Southerners respect tradition, know the value of a good story. We admire the written word because we still have among us some who are not too far removed from a time when our land was ravaged, our people destitute and hungry, and writing was the only thing there was to do. Perhaps that's why we also place such importance on knowing our lineage. Down here, we try to derive our identity not from our possessions, but from our roots--not what we have, but who we are. That's because our forebears learned a long time ago that everything else is expendable." --fromDue South Scott Brunner spent countless childhood afternoons roaming the hills and hollows of his grandparents' small farm near Parrish, Alabama, picking peas, fishing with his grandfather, and eating his grandmother's fried apple pies. Those experiences, and others like them, formed the basis for the unforgettable essays that make up this book. InDue South, Brunner offers a wonderful collection of warm and wise observations and reminiscences about life, family, relationships, and Southern culture and language. From the all-purpose Southern disclaimer "Bless your heart!" (as in "Bless her heart, Kathie Lee didn't know those clothes were made by nine-year-old Honduran children") to the particular exoticism of Southern town and county names (like Eastaboga, Nitta Yuma, and Hot Coffee) to the universal fine points of family life ("Why can't diapers come with an indicator telling you what's inside?"; "Why won't my twenty-month-old daughter eat meat?"),Due Southfinds humor, insight, and inspiration in the details of life as it is lived day in and day out. As satisfying, soothing, and occasionally surprising as a dish of turnip greens with a dash of pepper sauce,Due Southis a book to be read and savored.

Author Notes

R. Scott Brunner is a commentator on public radio in Mississippi & National Public Radio's "All Things Considered". A Mississippi Association of Realtors executive, he lives with his wife & their three children in Ridgeland, Mississippi.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Brunner, a commentator on National Public Radio (NPR), muses on his southern identity in the short pieces in this volume. A transplant to Mississippi, a native of 'bama, and a son of his "MaMa," Brunner provides warming observations that augment NPR's audio wallpaper of regional voices. There's rarely a grating sound here, as gratitude dominates Brunner's subjects: gratitude for fishing with PaPa, for infant daughter Claire's being, and for MaMa's cooking and southern gustatory culture in general. Perhaps while washing down his lima beans and barbecued pork with sweet tea, Brunner describes how grateful he is to teachers who've influenced him: his social dance teacher, his music teacher, and the English teacher who sent his essay on Russell Baker's Growing Up to Baker himself, who liked it. Brunner will swerve into darker sentiments, but his accent is heavily on the light and upbeat mood, as in his explanations of southern elocutions and place-names or of the phenomenon of lawn ornaments. A comfortable look at quotidian details of Brunner's southern rearing. Gilbert Taylor

Publisher's Weekly Review

Fans of National Public Radio's All Things Considered will recognize the author of these short essays celebrating life below the Mason-Dixon line. Brunner, who grew up in rural Alabama, proudly remains a Southerner, living in urban Brandon, Miss., where he is vice-president of the Mississippi Association of Realtors. He skillfully blends humor and pathos in this well-crafted collection, lending some self-aware zing to Southern clich‚s: descriptions of pulled pork sandwiches and iced tea at Arthur's barbecue joint manage to be mouth watering; a vivid account of how his MaMa (grandmother) organizes a yearly August soup-making party surpasses mere quaintness. The author's devotion to his parents ("Yes, sir. No, ma'am") is reflected in "Chap Stick," a poignant piece concerning a hospital visit to his father, and in "Mother's Greasy Bible," a tribute to his mother's high ethical standards. Although Brunner deals with many parts of his regional experience, from Deep South language quirks to the joy of raising his daughter as a Southerner, race relations remain unexplored except for a sentimental recollection of a beloved black housekeeper and an account of a visit he made to a poor black community. There's nothing hard-hitting or penetrating in this collection, just some sweet memories and fond recreations of regional idiosyncrasy. Agent, Jimmy Vines. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

A commentator for National Public Radio in Mississippi, Brunner plucks his thoughts from the air waves and puts them on paper. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Numbered Days In the chill of January, she numbers her days. She stands there at her back door--her gaze alternating between a view of the rear pasture through frosty storm windows on the back porch and one of those freebie wall calendars emblazoned with the Bank of Evergreen logo. On that calendar, with a felt-tip pen, steady of hand, she records the events of her life--those sublimely quotidian activities and images that mark her existence. She's been doing this for as long as my wife, her granddaughter, can recall. There's always been that calendar hanging by the back door, its squares filled with things that, to her, are worth noting: what she sees through those windows, for example. January 3 -- Rained, 2 deer in the pasture January 18 -- Snow, 1 or 2 inches; feed birds January 25 -- First day out since Saturday, saw 2 fox February 17 -- Tulips break ground, windy, 60° March 29 -- Snake on back step In addition to her fastidious reports of peripheral flora and fauna and the day's weather, she also notes phone calls and visits and diversions; along with her own activities, the life events of anyone to whom she's close are duly reported. February 20 -- Ed, Sharon & kids stopped by; didn't hear bell March 27 -- Tax seminar; enjoyable May 13 -- Salad for WMU social June 21 -- Walked with Doris December 9 -- Alan P called to say happy birthday Perhaps her devotion to that calendar springs from a biblical admonition: "Teach us to number our days . . . that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Or maybe it's a by-product of coming up in the Great Depression--makes her treasure the simple blessings of each day and want to record them. After all, tomorrow may not be so generous. Hence her thriftiness, which she wears like a good polyester double-knit pants suit. In her house she stockpiles dime-store finds, hides away useful sundry items in bureau drawers or in the dusty nether regions of closets seldom accessed, to await the day when she will need that set of porcelain demitasse cups or remember someone else who might. She even saves food. In the large upright Frigidaire freezer that sits on the back porch abide morsels of something from a 1994 church social, along with long-forgotten leftovers from some Reagan-era Thanksgiving dinner, patiently awaiting rediscovery and thaw for a midsummer night's supper. In her cleaning frenzies she finds things she forgot she even had, and her calendar is likely to note the rediscoveries. April 5 -- Located picture misplaced at Christmas May 8 -- Found lost items: old churn and oil brushes June 19 -- Cleaned out old magazines and clothes The only thing you won't find on her calendar is headline news, current events--well, not usually anyway. There are rare exceptions, always rendered tersely, incisively, with her own spin on exactly what is most important, most awful, most wondrous, about the event. August 31 -- Princess Diana dies in 4 a.m. Paris wreck November 19 -- Frost this a.m.; 7 babies born (in 6 minutes) I imagine she pondered that last one long after the evening news was over--sat there contemplating the meaning of those seven new lives and their six-minute delivery, and the crazy, awful, wonderful world they'd been born into. I imagine her playing that story over and over in her head along with the other events of the day, like she does most days--scanning for God in life's details and, more often than not, finding Him. Year after year the ritual is the same, for the very reason that each day, each person, each activity, to her is not the same. So pen in hand, she numbers her days, marveling at the wonder of her existence, and finding joy in the view from her window, the company of family and friends, and the occasional rediscovery of forgotten dime-store treasures. Excerpted from Due South: Dispatches from down Home by R. Scott Brunner All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Appreciationp. ix
Introductionp. xv
Numbered Daysp. 3
The "Bless Your Heart" Rulesp. 6
Turnip Greens at 33,000 Feetp. 10
Fox-trotp. 14
Sounds Like a Freight Train, Tastes Like Chickenp. 17
Chap Stickp. 21
How to Rear a Southernerp. 25
Poo-poo Builds Characterp. 29
Southern Provincialp. 32
Easy Streetp. 36
The Last Sevenbark in Walker Countyp. 40
Mother's Greasy Biblep. 44
The Fishing Tripp. 48
Index Cardsp. 52
Someone Like a Starp. 56
Southern Berlitzp. 60
Walkingp. 64
Come Out, Eudora (Wherever You Are)p. 68
Arthur'sp. 72
Shirley Goodness and the Cross-eyed Bearp. 76
The Hereticp. 80
Extraordinarily Normalp. 83
Home Cooking and World Peacep. 88
Sarah Palmerp. 92
Making Soupp. 97
Bible Bowlp. 102
My Neighborp. 106
Little Green Applesp. 109
Just Do Itp. 112
There She Is ...p. 116
Labor Dayp. 120
Twinsp. 123
Waste-O-Maticp. 127
PaPa's Turkeysp. 131
Winnie the Pooh and Underwear, Toop. 135
Ada Jeanp. 138
The Great Sweet-Potato Pie Debatep. 144
4:00 A.M.p. 148