Friday, February 26, 2010

A Southern Gothic on the Porch

In an attempt to spruce up my austere veranda I have been hunting around for some inspiration.

When I was very pregnant with my first child I spent most of the daylight hours over about 3 days sitting on our front verandah in the sunshine reading this book:



This is a mystery wrapped in a childhood memoir and has been criticised for its uncertain ending.  I love Ms Tartt with a passion. I love the fact she takes 8 years or more to write books, her chain smoking, her clipped enigmatic interviews, her hermitlike characteristics.  Please write another book Donna. 

Of course porches are a great place to sit and read Southern Gothic books.  Some books are meant to be read outside.    Especially dark and twisted stories.   To me, an Edgar Allan Poe book is not for curling up with in a darkened bedroom.  

Tennessee Williams described Southern Gothic as 'an intuition, of an underlying dreadfulness in modern experience'.    

So how about this shingled porch:





for a bit of Tennessee Williams preferably The Glass Menagerie, featuring the slightly annoying  and out of touch with reality Amanda:





And this verandah suggests mint juleps, lush gardens and a bit of heartbreak, so I would recommend:





Gone with the Wind, not Gothic at all, but Southern and hot and feisty and a really great read no matter how unfashionable Margaret Mitchell may be:




Back to porches and verandahs.  I need seating, cushions, a mirror to reflect the garden back, a little side table or two.  Very simple.  Like this:




Or this, but with no cane furniture.  Even though I love cane, someone else here does not. 




Maybe a painted bench: 




Or this, what a clean and crisp, wonderful spot: 

Late last year I read what is possibly the scariest book ever.    I read it in about 6 hours, and kept thinking and thinking about it.   Of course now it has been made into a film so it is widely known.   

This is not a book to read late into the night.   It is a book to read with the sun shining down on you, perhaps a little breeze through the bougainvillea, to remind you that the world is not as horrifying as Cormac McCarthy makes it seem.


So for The Road, I would suggest:






This lovely trellissed porch:

Or something with a stiff drink on hand:


And to finish, something slightly run down and peeling, for another frightening book (so much so I couldn't finish it), written I am sorry to say by a man I would not like to have dinner with:






In Cold Blood by Truman Capote.





(Images: (2) Apartment Therapy (4) Country Living (6) Skona Hem (7) Coastal Living (8) Ideal Home (9) My Sweet Savannah (11) not sure sorry! (12) Country Living (13) Traditional Home)

14 comments:

brismod said...

The Road is one of my favourite books, Jane. And you chose the perfect image for where to read it.

Engracia said...

What an inventive post Jane, one of my favourites of all that I have read across the blogosphere. Need to get to my library and read Donna's book, my front verandah will be the perfect spot for it.
Have a great weekend.

Julie@beingRUBY said...

Hi Jane
Well I love a good porch.. so much so .. any future house purchase will have to factor in it's 'porchability' .. I also love a good book and you have mentioned a few here that I haven't heard of .. so I'll bookmark this post.. for the book references.. and also those dreamy porch images.. Have a great weekend.. xx Julie

Jacqueline said...

Dear Jane,
Beauty and fear. Odd bedfellows but, I can see why you would like to read such books in such beautiful surroundings. When I was young I was fasinated by anything macarbe but, as I've got older, I'm not so keen. I think that one gets a bit of a scardy cat as we get on in years !!
When I'm next in the bookstore, I will read the backs of some of your suggestions and see if I think I can be brave and read one. ..... and I could sit on any of those verandah's, especially the last one. My idea of heaven.....the stiff drink being compulsory, even though I might not be reading something sinister !! haha. XXXX

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mise said...

What a great post, the books and porches complementing one another. I like your categorisation of books by whether or not you would dine with the author, and for a porch look I vote for the cane and bicycle image, with a painted bench instead of the cane. It's such a jolly and comforting look that no fictional atrocity could take hold of the mind there.

Laura [What I Like] said...

Such a fantastic post, you are absolutely right about some books needing sun to be read, and I thought it was just my scaredy cat tendencies that made me want to read dark books in bright light! I love Southern Gothic as a descriptor...it had never occurred to me how many of those stories are a tad disturbing in such tragic ways. Is it weird that it is one of my favorite genres?

fromtherightbank said...

Oh, I LOVE this post! I've always loved verandas and now I finally have one. The thing is, ours is pretty narrow and you have to walk through it to get to the front door from teh driveway so there isn't a lot of space for big pieces of furniture. Otherwise,I would love to create a whole other living space out there like these. Great inspiration, Jane!

fromtherightbank said...

BTW, I wanted to send you an email but can't seem to find your address . . . can you email it to me? rightbankgirl at gmail dot com. Thanks!

piratesnmermaids said...

Lovely porches! I read The Road on a plane, surrounded by people and I was still terrified. Emma

Tania said...

Ever since my first reading of Gatsby (nothing to do with gothic) I have been afflicted with an enduring fascination with the mint julep. I'm told they taste awful (ack, ack, pluut! the precise description) but as soon as I locate that veranda, I intend to partake.

Amanda said...

What a lovely collection of different verandahs - love the second one surrounded by all that lush greenery and the one with the red chair and bike - gorgeous!!

Amanda said...

Great subliminal imagery Jane. Don't think I could cope with some of your scary book choices though. Is it OK to admit to a little light chick-lit every now and then? Maybe not....

Ange said...

After spending a week in a rickety, dark old farmhouse with no heating and nothing but a dirt (when it's not snow covered) track to get up there ... Methinks I will save this post for when I can actually GET OUT ONTO a sunfilled porch. Until then - I'm too much of a scaredy cat :-)

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