40 / CHRONICLESnyou got a bean vine whippingnaround the poreh to keep thendogs cool. Why you just reachnout and pick them right there.nA good many of the people Glennand I talked to mentioned somethingnelse, though, something besides thenclimate and the soil and the opennspaces. They said, one way or another,nthat they felt at home in the South.nWoodrow Wilson (no less) said muchnthe same thing, speaking at the Universitynof North Carolina in 1909:nIt is all very well to talk ofndetachment of view, and of theneffort to be national in spirit,nbut a boy never gets over hisnboyhood, and never cannchange those subtle influencesnwhich have become a part ofnhim, that were bred in himnwhen he was a child. So I amnobliged to say again and againnthat the only place in thencountry, the only place in thenworld, where nothing has to benexplained to me is the South.nSometimes after long periods ofnabsence I forget how natural itnis to be in the South, and thennthe moment I come … Inknow again the region to whichnI naturally belong.nFor all the homogenization, massil^cation,nand other ugly-ations that havengone on since 1909, Southerners stillnclaim to understand one another betternthan other Americans. They still don’tnneed to have things explained to themnin the South.nIn I’ll Take My Stand, Stark Youngnwrote of experiences that bring tears tonone’s eyes because of the memoriesnthey evoke of some place. “Thatnplace,” he wrote, “is your country.”nFor many of us, the South is ourncountry, and we just can’t help it.nThe South isn’t unique in this respect,neven among American places. 1nknow New Yorkers and Midwesternersnand even Californians who feel somethingnsimilar about their “countries.”nBut certainly the South has a remarkablengrip on many of its children’snaffections and imaginations.nSome unlikely Southerners haventestified to this. Listen to a friend ofnmine, a self-styled Marxist who teachesnat Atianta University. Returning lastnAugust after a summer in California,nhe wrote me from El Paso: “FranklynI’m ready for home, i.e., the Southn—with all of its [illegible] which I bitchnabout but always return to.” (I reallyncan’t figure out what the garbled wordnis; it seems to me he bitches aboutnnearly everything.)nI remember well a New Year’s partynin London, 1978. We bought JimnBeam at $15 a bottie, tracked downngreens and field peas in the WestnIndian market, and made do withnsome good English ham. Somebody’snmother sent Kentucky pecans for thenpie. A half-dozen Tennesseans andnNorth Carolinians and a few bewilderednLondoners drank, I recall, “Tonthe liberation of our country.” FrednPowledge, in his fine book JourneysnThrough the South, tells about thensimilar party he has every year innBrooklyn Heights; I wish I’d knownnhim when I lived in New York.nI’m going to tell a story that I’vennever told before—maybe shouldn’tntell now, but what the hell. Fifteennyears ago, I wrote a book called ThenEnduring South. It argued that therenwere still many cultural differencesnbetween the South and the rest of thenUnited States. A couple of years afternthat, I was at a sociological convention,ncoming down on a crowded hotelnelevator, when one of the other passengersnread my name-tag aloud, andnexclaimed “Why, you wrote The EnduringnSouthl” When I allowed that Inhad, the man told me (and the rest ofnthe elevator) that he had read the booknwhile teaching in California, hadnasked himself “What am I doingnhere?”—and had thrown over his jobnto go back home to Louisiana, to teachnin a small college there.nThis was heady stuff for an assistantnprofessor. Indeed, I believe it’s rare forna sociologist of any rank to be told thatnhe has changed somebody’s life. Ofncourse I was flattered—also somewhatnembarrassed, and virtually speechless.nIn my confusion I didn’t get the man’snname, and I don’t think I’ve ever seennhim again.nFor over a decade, I’ve kept thisnstory to myself Even now, it seemsngrossly immodest to tell it—and, besides,nI’m not sure anyone will believenit. I find it pretty unbelievable myselfnBut I’ve thought about that experiencena lot, and the other day it came to mennn(at last) that the story says less aboutnmy book than about the book’s subject.nYou see. The Enduring South didn’tnmove that man. It’s good journeymannwork, not bad for a graduate studentn(which I was when I wrote it). But it’snnot really evocative; indeed, it’s mostlynstatistical tables. That man wasn’tnmoved by the book, but by what henbrought to it: his love for the South,nfor his country, for the place wherennothing has to be explained to him.nThe book only triggered a process ofnrecollection. A plate of grits mightnhave done the same.nJames Dickey said once that he’snmore proud of being a Southernernthan of being an American. I don’tnknow how many would go that far, butna lot of us are just as glad that Southernersnhaven’t had to choose betweennthose loyalties since 1865.n]ohn Shelton Reed’s The EnduringnSouth has recently been reissued bynthe University of North CarolinanPress, with a new afterword by thenauthor.nLetter From Londonnby Andrei NavrozovnIs Old Bob McNamara Still Teachingnat Harvard?nI had the distinct feeling I had seen thenbook somewhere before. It was almostnlike the old cinematographic cliche:nclose-up of the Treblinka torturer’snface in a dream sequence, a fadednphotograph shot in sepia tones, mennrunning through the courtyard. Thentitle was respectable enough. ThenFaber Book of Contemporary AmericannPoetry. Faber and Faber, 3 QueennSquare, don’t you know? Eliot’s firm.nBut then I recognized the name:nHelen Vendler.nA feverish leafing-through and I wasnenveloped in familiar drivel:nPoetry is the most speaking ofnwritten signs; it is the mostndesigned of spoken utterances;nit inhabits, and makes usntravellers in, a place wherenevery phrase of the spokennlanguage would be as outlinednas an urn.n