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Southern Souvenirs, Southern Souvenirs, 0817309764, 0-8173-0976-4, 978-0-8173-0976-3, 9780817309763, , , Southern Souvenirs, 0817309772, 0-8173-0977-2, 978-0-8173-0977-0, 9780817309770,

Southern Souvenirs
Stories & Essays Sarah Haardt
by Sara Haardt
Edited by Ann Henley

Quality Paper
1999. 352 pp.
978-0-8173-0976-3
Price:  $29.95 s
Hardcover
1999. 352 pp.
978-0-8173-0977-0
Price:  $49.95 s

 

This anthology of Sara Haardt’s best short fiction and essays refocuses critical and popular attention on a nearly forgotten but important forerunner of the southern literary renascence. 
 
Sara Haardt’s character sketches, short stories, and essays were published regularly in the leading literary and popular magazines of the 1920s and 1930s. But today she is remembered best as the wife of H. L. Mencken. Southern Souvenirs, which brings together prize-winning and previously unpublished work, reintroduces her work to scholar and general read alike, restoring her place in the pantheon of southern letters.
 
Haardt’s biography alone, detailed poignantly in Ann Henley’s introduction, makes for fascinating reading. Born into an upper-middle-class family in Montgomery, Alabama, Haardt attended a progressive local school where she received the kind of college prep education typically reserved for boys. She “escaped” the South to Goucher College in Baltimore, returning only occasionally and briefly. Haardt and Mencken’s meeting at Goucher sparked a long relationship between the two, first as mentor and student, then as romantic partners, and finally as one the nation’s most celebrated husband-and-wife teams. 
 
Although Haardt had struggled with poor health throughout her life, before her untimely death of tuberculosis in 1935, she had published widely in such magazines and journals as The Reviewer, Mencken’s The Smart Set, Atlantic Monthly, Bookman, and Harper’s Bazaar. Her story “Absolutely Perfect” was among the O. Henry Prize stories for 1933; “Little White Girl” was included in Best Short Stories of 1935. Those stories appear here alongside others Haardt had planned to collect, and in the order she had devised, with a few exceptions and additions outlined by Henley in her introduction. Haardt’s stories richly evoke past southern landscapes and family life as they paint trenchant portraits of adolescent girls and women. Those traits, along with Haardt’s perpetual conflict with her own southernness, lead Henley to place Haardt as a precursor to such writers as Carson McCullers, Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty, and, more recently, Alice Walker and Lee Smith.

 
Ann Henley teaches in the Department of English at North Carolina State University.

 

“Sara Haardt’s short works, both fiction and nonfiction, capture her world, with its people, places, and concerns ranging from family to gender to race. Her insightful and honest writing allows readers to experience that past and to recognize, sadly, that some struggles persist today.” – Nancy Grisham Anderson, Auburn University at Montgomery

 


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