Books | April 2016
Despite the lengthy title of his 2008 book, Alphabet Juice: The Energies, Gists, and Spirits of Letters, Words, and Combinations Thereof: Their Roots, Bones, Innards, Piths, Pips, and Secret Parts, Tinctures, Tonics, and Essences; With Examples of Their Usage Foul and Savory, Roy Blount, Jr. doesn't mince words. The storied Southern humorist brings his dry wit to the Hernando Public Library on April 21 to meet with the locals and speak on a variety of topics.
Q: Your work is often focused on the importance of words and diction. Do you have a favorite word?
A: I would say “click,” except it’s so trendy. So, no, I don’t have a favorite word. I’ll tell you my least favorite word: the word “favorite.” Anyone who claims to have a favorite food, or animal, or song, or thing to write about, is just taking an excuse to babble.
Q: In 2002, you narrated a PBS documentary about the Mississippi River. Can you share a little about the process? Did you learn anything surprising?
A: I tried to learn something while dealing with the fact that I was being dragged hither and yon by a film crew. I did learn, by asking all sorts of people what being “mainstream” meant to them, that most of them never had thought about it before and weren’t going to think about it.
Q: Some of the events you documented, such as the King Biscuit Blues Festival, barbecue contests and barehanded catfishing, are old hat to people in the region but may seem strange to outsiders. How do you approach these uniquely Southern topics?
A: I approach all topics from my own level of curiosity. To me everything, especially a commonplace thing, is strange — and yet, I trust, comprehensible.
Q: What is your writing process like?
A: I mope around, come upstairs to stand at my big-screen-monitor computer, curse, wander around, sigh, talk to the cat, write, rewrite, and it’s never quite right, but it gets done.
Q: Any advice for aspiring writers?
A: Read a lot and write a lot, care deep down about choosing the right words, and give people a chance to talk to you about what they do.
Wit & Words
Five Questions with Roy Blount, Jr.
Story by Casey Hilder