Wednesday, March 02, 2011

From Manhattan to Mississippi (copy)

I spent some time with Daisy Karam-Read yesterday. She is the author of two books, From Manhattan to Mississippi: A New Yorker Falls in Love with the South and The Love Affair Continues: From Manhattan to Mississippi, Part Two. I did not speak to her personally. Instead, I read these two books in one sitting.

Twelve years ago, Karam-Read left her high rise apartment overlooking the Hudson River in Tribeca to follow the man she loves to Ocean Springs, Mississippi. From the book jacket I can read that her friends thought her incredulous. I understand totally. We came down from Memphis and shocked every one of our Bartlett, Collierville and Germantown friends. It was like we were moving to the abyss never to be seen again.

Mississippi gets little respect around the nation. We seem to others to be a group of dim-witted fatsos who would not know a Schubert from an arugula. Obviously, we are not and it is nice to see when someone’s prejudices are exposed as incorrect. This is what readers will experience if they attempt these books.

One might get a little tired of Karam-Read’s recurring romantic view of the South. Yes, our men are chivalrous. Yes, charm exudes from all of our pores. Yes, gardening and cooking are two genetic traits. Yes, our southern drawl can be hard to decipher, but no, we do not always wear our shoes. Her comment, “Southern Ladies do not walk around barefoot!” does not take into account the beach.

It feels like Karam-Read is excited when stereotypes ring true, but is also equally shocked at the State’s beautiful architecture, scrumptious cuisine and international culture. She is slightly misguided as to her sense of place, also. She incorrectly calls Ocean Springs the Deep South. Fellow Mississippians living from Tunica to Belzoni would welcome the Gulf breezes she enjoys.

Do not worry. She is corrected in the second book by a charming Mississippi man living in Smith County. Yes, I realize. Still not in the Delta, but at least it is closer to true Deep South.

I enjoyed both books, but her second, more “Mississippian” enlightened book is better. The first book’s audience seems to be those friends who questioned her move.

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