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Regional Novels, Explained

Reader Liam sends in some pretty great literary comedy from The Toast. Here’s a sampling from Mallory Ortberg’s distillation of Every Southern Gothic Novel Ever [1]:

5. Why, This House Represents The Last Vestige Of A Grandeur This Town Could Never Hope To Regain, And We Wouldn’t Sell It For The World

8. No One Listens To What Old Pap’s Got To Say, On Account Of This Deformity, But I Say It’s You All What Has The Deformity, In Your Souls, I Knows What I’ve Seen

12. I Drink Because This House Is Filthy And All The Servants Have Fled

13. Someone Is Going To Have To Shoot The Dog Before It Reaches The Courthouse

And here’s a selection from her list of Every New England Novel Ever [2]:

6. Don’t Sit In That Chair, Boy; Your Mother Sat In That Chair Once And Look Where It Got Her

8. Brisk Ten-Mile Walks Are The Only Medicine Or Therapy This Family Needs

9. The Cod Have Returned

10. Not Everything In Yon Churchyard Is Asleep

17. An Outsider Is Rebuffed

Tidbits from Every Californian Novel Ever: [3]

10. This Pool, Like L.A. Society, Is Only Reflective On The Surface And Also Lacks Depth

11. The 1960s Are Upon Us At Last

12. How Can You Develop Character In A State Without Winter?

13. Everyone Sits In Their Cars, Moving In The Same Direction But Unable To Touch: A Description Of Traffic But Also Of Life

14. The Film Industry Is Corrupt

Entries from Every Scottish Novel Ever [4]:

8. This Rugged, Rocky Landscape Has Shaped Our Hardscrabble Souls In A Way This Soft-Handed Londoner Could Never Hope To Understand

16. In The Long-Running Battle Between Guilt And Desire, Guilt Wins Out

17. Painting Your Shutters Is For Papists And Sexual Deviants; Whitewash Is Good Enough For The Likes Of Us

My favorite of them all is the Southern Gothic line about the dog and the courthouse.

Here’s something else funny from The Toast, sent in by a reader with appalling taste in football teams (she’s from Alabama, naturellement): Dante running into Beatrice in art history. [5]

13 Comments (Open | Close)

13 Comments To "Regional Novels, Explained"

#1 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On September 10, 2015 @ 12:04 pm

Russian Novels: someone has to at some point in the novel either commit, contemplate, attempt, or talk incessantly about suicide. There’s a reason we call it ‘Russian’ roulette (the idea was originally thought up in the early 19th century novella A Hero of Our Time.)

(Hmmmm…..wonder if the climate and Seasonal Affective Disorder has something to do with that?)

#2 Comment By Aaron Gross On September 10, 2015 @ 12:06 pm

I truly believe that Mallory Ortberg is the greatest thing on the internet.

And while we’re talking favorites, here’s mine: [6].

OK, just one more. My favorite of all those “introverts are very special people” columns: [7]

#3 Comment By EngineerScotty On September 10, 2015 @ 12:52 pm

For the Pacific Northwest:

1) Various gothic creatures settle in woods outside of town, largely due to relative lack of sunshine.

2) Virginal 20-something college student becomes rich guy’s sex slave, overnight.

3) Outsider crashes into institution, raises hell, is lobotomized.

4) Plucky band of misfits chased through cave by gangsters, discover long-lost pirate ship.

5) The salmon have returned.

6) Boy goes into woods, meets and befriends bear/wolf/cheetah/sasquatch/Indians, comes back a man.

7) Uptight person is forced by various circumstances beyond his/her control to live among locals, and completely abandons all former pretense and inhibitions by end of story.

8) Band of kids in streetcar suburb adopt lost dog.

9) Anything with a gay prostitute.

10) Damn, it rains a lot.

#4 Comment By EngineerScotty On September 10, 2015 @ 12:53 pm

Scratch cheetah, replace with cougar. Ain’t got no cheetahs ’round here except at the zoo.

#5 Comment By Gracie On September 10, 2015 @ 1:01 pm

Scottish #2 for the win: “This Music Has A Whiff Of Papal Decadence About It; Are You Quite Sure You Are A Member Of The Elect?” Snort.

#6 Comment By sketchesbyboze On September 10, 2015 @ 1:03 pm

Mallory’s tweets are possibly my favorite thing about Twitter.

#7 Comment By W.E.B. Dupree On September 10, 2015 @ 1:53 pm

The Southern Gothic Novel list reminds me of some of the dialogue in the all-time greatest “King of the Hill” episode, the one in which Hank and his family visit Louisiana with a stop at the crumbling swamp mansion of the relatives of Hank’s friend Bill.

Gilbert Dauterive: “I’m terribly sorry. I’ve always been a creeper. Violetta says I creep like the kudzu vines that are slowly but surely strangling our Dixie.”

#8 Comment By ScurvyOaks On September 10, 2015 @ 2:20 pm

I had a mouthful of Dr. Pepper, appropriately enough, when I got to the line about the dog and the courthouse. I narrowly averted a mess.

#9 Comment By Irenist On September 10, 2015 @ 3:05 pm

Had never heard of her. Author page at the Toast now gratefully bookmarked. As you’d expect, this was also very, very good:

Tangent: Is it just me, or do the captchas get more complicated if you leave a lot of comments, and then cycle back to simple again? Like, they start off with, “check all pictures with food” but by the time you’ve left a lot of comments, it gets up to, say, “check only the pictured wines whose character truly expresses terroir” or “check only passenger cars manufactured in postwar Britain” but then the very next comment, you’re back to “check all the cars” and the rest of the pictures are pizza or something. So, really a cycle from easy to subtle and back again, or just me? (Yes, the complex examples are a little exaggerated. Seemed like that kind of post.)

#10 Comment By Nancy Wang On September 10, 2015 @ 11:46 pm

I LOVE the Dante one–hilarious!

#11 Comment By Andrew W On September 11, 2015 @ 12:37 pm

Hector don’t forget that other Russian great,
Let’s Have Unrealistically Profound Conversations in the Garden and Then One of Us Will Go Insane.

#12 Comment By Steve Williams On September 11, 2015 @ 1:19 pm

How could you have missed the absolutely inviolate signifier of Sourthern literature, the dead mule?


#13 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On September 11, 2015 @ 9:00 pm

The significance of all this entirely escapes me, and I used to enjoy Kurt Vonnegut.