Julia Reed is a contributing editor at Newsweek and a former senior writer at Vogue. A native of Greenville, Mississippi, she is the author of books including the essay collection Queen of the Turtle Derby and Other Southern Phenomena.
In this rollicking talk from the 2011 Key West Literary Seminar, Reed discusses facets of Southern life including disproportionately high rates of murder and churchgoing; Mississippi’s 1966 repeal of Prohibition, 33 years behind the rest of the nation (“I had no idea the state was dry,” quips Reed); and, of course, alcohol consumption. Drinking, Reed tells us, is a key component of all major events in Southern life, including weddings, Christmas parties, and the hospitalization of her father in a dry county, where nurses threatened to evict the Reed family for smuggling liquor into the hospital room. This irreverent talk is not for teetotalers or those averse to the wit and wisdom found in a bottle, whose contents, Reed reminds us, are just part of the recipe for a good time:
“I’ve always said that danger, at least the possibility of it, is a crucial element of any good party. Parties thrive on secrets that are made or told, alliances formed, dalliances done, someone striking a match in someone else’s inappropriate heart. Once I was at an especially dangerous party where someone struck a match to the hostess’s hair, and even then she was in the dark about it. What happened was this…”
From KWLS 2011: The Hungry Muse