The South: It ain’t all ’bout beer ‘n’ guns.

Pulse co-editor Eva Holland recently returned from a month-long road trip around the American South and wondered why more people don’t choose the southern states as a travel destination.

From music and food, to accents and souvenirs, Eva penned some fantastic entries about Southern culture over on Matador’s community blog.

I thought about her observation as I returned to my hometown of Spartanburg, South Carolina yesterday.

You should put the South on your travel to-do list, and if you can visit soon, here are some great summer events taking place in Upstate South Carolina:

Upstate Farm Tour: Tours of local farms, with special emphasis on sustainable and organic practices: May 31 and June 1

Scottish Games: Sports, bagpipe, and dancing contests celebrating Scottish heritage. June 6 and 7

Reedy River Nighttime Concert Series: Every Wednesday night in June

Downtown Alive: Every Thursday night in June

Main Street Jazz: Every Friday night in June

Upstate Shakespeare Festival: June 5-8

But if you can’t come visit us here over yonder, dip into some super place-based writing about the southern states. One of my favorite contemporary Southern authors is George Singleton who, in full disclosure, was once my instructor.

Singleton, a short story writer and novelist, specializes in stories about true Southern characters, and while these folks may seem outlandish to the non-Southern reader, Singleton insists they’re “just regular people trying to get by.” He’s singularly adept at capturing and conveying Southern culture in an authentic, empathic, and humorous way.

Check out this excerpt from an interview over at www.failbetter.com, in which Singleton talks about the South as muse:

“I barely have to make anything up. One time I was in line at the little general store…, and the man in front of me looked outside at the gas pump. The driver hauled a horse trailer. The guy in front of me looked at the trailer and boomed out, ‘What the hell kind of donkeys is them?’ ‘They were llamas.'”

If you’re headed South–or even if you’re not–check out Singleton’s writing. And while you’re at it, let us know what you’re reading. Which writers capture the essence of a place so perfectly that you’re practically transported?

Photo: Felix the Kraut (creative commons)