Folks Say the Nicest Things


A few thoughts from several of the contributors who have made The Bitter Southerner smart and beautiful.



“I suppose you could say I'm a conflicted Southerner, or a conscious Southerner, or maybe just a contrarian. The thing is, those three descriptions describe The Bitter Southerner, too. The folks at The Bitter Southerner aren't about whitewashing the South, literally or figuratively. They aren't going to try and sell you stationery with the musical notes to ‘Dixie’ engraved — wink, wink — at the top, like a certain Southern lifestyle magazine I know. They don't rhapsodize over moonlight and magnolias, through I imagine the editors appreciate both, and sometimes while eating Moon Pies. What they are interested in are true stories from the South, in all of our diverse and disturbing, beautiful and gracious, awful and funny ways. When I read The Bitter Southerner, I think, ‘Yeah, this is me, and yep, this is home.’

—  Susan Rebecca White, author of The Bitter Southerner stories “What I Took” and “Feed


“In the mindless web dumping ground of shallow news stories re-posted ad nauseum via social media chatter with no more care than messages scrawled on a dive-bar bathroom wall, The Bitter Southerner — with its thoughtful and gorgeously designed longform stories — stands alone in its honest coverage and cogitation of all things Southern. It is literary journalism online at its finest, a rare and special place indeed.”

—  Joe Samuel Starnes, author of The Bitter Southerner story “The Monumental Courage of Hank Aaron



"If The Bitter Southerner has the courage to risk the wrath of its core readers by printing an explosive essay like my "Gone with the Wind and My Southern Education," then more power to 'em. Damn the torpedoes.

 —  Gary Leva



“The Bitter Southerner is an oasis for those of us who think the South is more beautiful than pretty gardens and barbecue recipes, and that its history is more than moonshine and Civil War re-enactments. It's where Southerners go to get real about our past and our present and wrestle with the duality of the Southern Thing. If we'd had it 50 years ago we might not have needed the last 10 years of the civil rights movement, though I admit that's like saying if we had some ham we could have some ham and eggs, if we had some eggs. Anyway, we have it now. Thank god.”

—  Tracy Thompson, author of The Bitter Southerner stories “From a Distance” and “Dixie Is Dead



“The Bitter Southerner is not only beautiful to look at, it’s quite beautiful to read. It’s unlike any other regional — or national, for that matter — publication you’ll read online today. You won’t find these stories and the way they are told anywhere else. It’s like that old family friend who has all the secrets your parents won’t tell you about — what they were really like growing up (the real stories, mind you). These stories and the photos that accompany them are little jewels of the South that you’ll only discover by reading them here. Chuck and his team take their time with each story they publish – making sure every detail is covered in such a way so that each one published is truly a work of art. It’s why I so badly wanted to write for them. And I’m honored to have done so."

—  Charles Moss, author of The Bitter Southerner story “‘Local’ Is Way Harder Than You Think



“When you write for The Bitter Southerner, you don't think of trends or commercial viability or overbearing editors, you think only of what you want to say about our region. You feel free and that's the starting point for the best work, the best art.”

—  Lolis Elie, author of The Bitter Southerner story “Precious & Endangered



“Y'all have created the house organ for a whole cultural, political, racial and economic moment that has every possibility and right to be in textbooks 50 years from now. There's a lot of work to be done, of course, but I'm damned happy to have a surfboard and to be out there carving my own curlicues in that wave. I have you guys to thank for that. Had you passed on the ‘Battle of Atlanta’ piece, I'd still be mucking around as I had been for the previous 44 years, making quickly forgotten websites and periodically writing some little thing and then forgetting about it.”

— Fletcher Moore, author of The Bitter Southerner story “The Many Battles of Atlanta



Photo Whitney Ott

“The work of The Bitter Southerner toward the exaltation of the narrative tradition of the American South has never been more crucial. At a time when media comes cheap and fast, the BS offers a long, slow, nuanced sip of Southern literary and popular culture. As Flannery O’Connor once said, ‘The great advantage of being a Southern writer is that we don’t have to go anywhere to look for manners; bad or good, we’ve got them in abundance. We in the South live in a society that is rich in contradiction, rich in irony, rich in contrast, and particularly rich in its speech.’ The Bitter Southerner offers an unparalleled venue for Southern writers to testify to that contradiction, revel in that irony, illuminate that contrast, and share the riches of our experience.”

—  Jodi Rhoden, author of The Bitter Southerner story “All Wealth Is From the Earth



“Free journalism is worth exactly what you pay for it. The Bitter Southerner may not present a bill to its readers, but is about as ‘free’ as married sex: It has always existed on donations of time, expertise, talent and financial support of its members. It is a labor of love, for the story and the South. But true love requires acceptance by candlelight as well as with swine flu. What The Bitter Southerner presents is an unflinching view of a place in all its weird complexity – the sorrow and the laughter, the past and the present, our crimes and, we hope, redemption. By focusing on quality over quantity, by breaking the great commandment of new media, together we are shifting the center of gravity in a universe that grows louder as it understands less. So support is crucial – the alternative is a cable network ‘Hee Haw’ reboot. And we can’t have that, can we?”

—  Richard Murff, author of The Bitter Southerner stories “Fly Me to the Gulf,” “Weapons Grade Elvis,” “Republic of Swine” and “Gumbo Ya-Ya



“The Bitter Southerner does more than explore the South … it explores our 10,000 Souths. Chuck Reece and his team remind us how to appreciate all the kaleidoscopic variety and nuance of a region as diverse, complex, and fascinating as any place in any part of the world. The weekly TBS feature always makes me love who I am and where I’m from a little bit more than before. Keep it coming!”

—  Charles McNair, author of The Bitter Southerner stories “Go Tell It on the Mountain” and “Denise McNair & Me” and this little number about how he hates azaleas



“The Bitter Southerner allows us in the South to set the record straight. When you are crowding around a bar at midnight and the fat ass from Boston sneers, ‘This is a bad sports town, just remember where you read it first: ‘We play, you pay. We have produced way more athletes than Beantown.’”

—  Ray Glier, author of The Bitter Southerner stories “If We Win Again, We’ll Be One Again” and “Because We Play



Photo by Zach Wolfe

“The Bitter Southerner has given me an open platform to get out ideas that have been swirling around in my head for years. Without a platform like the BS, these ideas may not come to light. I love being a part of a community of creatives working towards one large body of content. The platform feels open to any idea of the South I come up with — total creative freedom, I do not receive that anywhere else. Knowing that my work is going to a large audience is also a plus. I feel obligated to continue to create content for this site as we the people who live in the South deserve to be heard!”

—  Zach Wolfe, photos and videos on The Bitter Southerner story “Glory!” and filmmaker on the BS production, “Beauty”



Photo by Brian McGrath Davis

“The most incredible stories are often centered around the folks that the average passerby would never so much as raise an eyebrow to. The Bitter Southerner is an advocate for these underdogs – people entrenched in red clay, caked in sweat, working to improve the American Southeast by embracing its grit instead of sweeping it under the rug.”

—  Laura Relyea, author of The Bitter Southerner story “Out Behind the Barn



Photo by Rinne Allen

“The Bitter Southerner is rowdy. It's graceful. It's reliable. It's surprising. It's worthy. This writer will always be grateful for their generous platform, which allowed me to examine and express what it means to experience the wondrous peculiarity of our land, our South.”

— Nancy Lendved, author of The Bitter Southerner story “The Magic of Athens”



“In an age of disconnectedness, The Bitter Southerner makes its readers feel an even stronger bond with the world around them. It brings the disparate cultures and microcosms of the South to vivid life, and it helps all of us feel wonderfully at home, even in places we've never visited before.”

— Tom Mullen, author of The Bitter Southerner story “Last Call at the Stork Hotel”



Photo by Fernando Decillis

“We need the BS because it helps tell the story of the most engaging interesting region of the country from the perspective of folks who live here and love it -- warts and all. It does not discount the past when it becomes inexpedient. It tells the truth and shows with clarity the distance we've put between then and now — until some things show us how little distance that actually is. The BS shows how we live now from every angle and gives its readers perhaps the most informed and enlightened perspective on this region's vibrancy than anyone else. The South is many things to many people, and there is something there for everyone in the BS who truly wants to embrace our region's richness in people, places and things.”

—  Tim Turner, author of The Bitter Southerner story “Remembering Selma



Photo by Roger May

"Brace yourselves, but I have an admission. I'm a Yankee. [GASP!] My parents both grew up in North Carolina, but I grew up in Connecticut. But it wasn't long before summer visits down there incited in me a Pavlovian reaction. Anticipating those visits always tasted like tangy vinegar slaw over tender, slow-cooked pork, and they felt like the hot, sticky nights that bear down on you in a way that feels less like an invasion and more like an embrace you can't ever really leave behind. That's when I fell in love with the South. I ended up going to school in Nashville and spent the last year living in Mississippi, before accepting a job in New York working at a magazine (a job, I might note, I never would've gotten without The Bitter Southerner allowing me to write for them). Now when I read The Bitter Southerner, I get the same pangs I used to before one of those visits to see my grandparents. It's a community of people who like to be together (if only in that they're reading the same thing), who like to eat well and drink well and listen to music and tell damn good stories. It's people whose words and evocative pictures make you feel like you're home, even if the South isn't your home now and it never was before."

—  Clay Skipper, author of The Bitter Southerner stories This Place Matters and The Last of the Alabama Gang



Photo by Kaylinn Gilstrap

“With each passing day more emails fly through my mailbox destined for the trash bin.  I scroll through quickly marking the ones I don't even care to open.  The only ones that survive the cut are designated into two categories: work and pleasure.  I'm pleased to say the Bitter Southerner falls into both categories.  They give me something to immerse myself in each Tuesday, consistently reminding me and sometimes showing me new reasons why I love the South.  When I'm lucky enough to work with these fine folks it doesn't feel like work at all; trust me I have the stories to prove it!  Here's to another year of us being Bitter.”  

 —   Kaylinn Gilstrap, photography contributor for The Bitter Southerner stories, “The Dirt Underneath” and “A Carolina Dog



Photo by Roger May

“The Bitter Southerner is the finest consistent example of heart work I see in this noisy media world. They don't try to be all things to all people, yet all of us find something in it for us. Why is that? Because we identify with stories from the heart. They resonate with us in ways we often can't find words to explain. This small team pulls from big hearts to produce beautiful stories consistently. You won't find anything else like it. And neither will your heart.”

 —   Roger May, photography contributor for The Bitter Southerner story, “A Love Letter to Appalachia



Photo by J.R. Ward II

“When I moved to Atlanta from my native Southern California, a lot of smart people on the West Coast and in the Southeast thought I'd lost my mind. For me, The Bitter Southerner captures an experience of the South that flies in the face of both those dated perspectives—one where the Golden State has it all figured out, and the other, where Southern folk see things only how they were, and not how they're turning out to be. I'm thankful to be part of a publication that documents where we are and where we're going, with an inclusive understanding of how things started out.”

 —   Osayi Endolyn, author of The Bitter Southerner Story “Ain’t Nothing If It Don’t Feel Good



Photo by Artem Nazarov

“As a journalist, it’s my favorite place to write with a stellar team leading the charge.  The team behind BS really defines the South. From Kyle as director of social media, but really more like social chair (always knows the coolest things, people, places), to Chuck’s keen editor’s eye and ability to take a story from draft to final with his incredible flourish, to Dave’s stunning creative direction for the look and feel, to Butler’s ability to make sure the whole thing doesn’t come crashing down – you all are top-notch. I don’t know what Atlanta (or the South) would be without you.”

—  Dana Hazels Seith, author of The Bitter Southerner Story “We’re all Freaks; My Three Years at the Clermont Lounge



Illustrations by Natalie K. Nelson

"I think The Bitter Southerner is where you’ll find some of the best writing about the South – both present and past, real and mythic, extraordinary and everyday. The work is intelligent and unique."

—  Susan Harlan, author of The Bitter Southerner Story “Notes Concerning the Objects That Are On My Front Porch