Here in the oldies-but-goodies category we have Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady. You can tell it was published in 1985. Just look at that cover. That particular shade of pink has been extinct for well over twenty years now.
The story itself, fortunately, has aged far better than the garish cover art. This is the memoir of Florence King’s mid-twentieth-century girlhood in Virginia, with characters as crazy and familiar as you’d find in the best of Southern Fiction: There is a chainsmoking mother who swears like a sailor, a woefully out-of-place English father, and a grande dame grandmother hellbent on making a proper Southern lady out of her granddaughter.
“Whether she succeeded in making a lady out of me is for you to decide,” writes King, “but I will say one thing in my own favor…. No matter which sex I went to bed with, I never smoked on the street.”
(I suppose at this point I should mention that King is a lesbian. Fear not, my hetero readers: There are plenty of wild bedroom escapades with men before she figures out her orientation.)
Whether you want it to or not, the South comes alive in King’s capable hands–the good, the bad, and the all-too-familiar ugly (which is to say, it will be all-too-familiar if you’ve lived your whole life in the South, as I have). There’s the Virginia of King’s younger years and the Mississippi of her college years, but no matter the location, she delivers her story with scathing observations and hysterical wit.