Guest blogger Ron Cooper, author of Purple Jesus
I fell in love with literature when I read Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. The backwoods Bundren family—some hard-working and honorable, some shiftless and depraved, and all dirt poor—were my people. I had never imagined that penniless and often clueless clodhoppers could be proper subjects for respectable art. I found that such characters surfaced in the work of other, usually Southern, authors, like Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty, and Erskine Caldwell. The fictive world occupied by O’Connor’s and Welty’s characters were familiar to me, but they were not the destitute and often violent milieu of Faulkner and especially Caldwell. These authors all understood something about poor people, although only Caldwell seemed especially to care for them. In the years after being awakened to literature by Faulkner, I discovered many writers I admired, but I wondered why nearly all of them wrote only about socio-economically privileged characters.