Katrina benefit / New Stories from the South party recap & southern culture trivia quiz

Many thanks to all who made it out to the Katrina benefit / New Stories from the South party last night. It was a good crowd, and we raised $420 for KARES.

(Today, by the way, marks the 3rd anniversary of the storm. As Gustav bears down on the Coast, IFC is showing the new Katrina documentary, Trouble the Water, which includes harrowing footage shot by one of the city’s residents while floodwaters swept down her street, rose up her porch and filled her house, driving her and her husband into the attic and finally out into the streets.)

For those who couldn’t make it, a recap: We filled up on bread pudding and crawfish cheesecake from Mara’s Homemade, heard great readings from ZZ Packer, Brett Anthony Johnston, and Stephanie Dickinson, and took a southern culture trivia quiz that everybody said was too hard. (Totally my fault.)

Fellow blogger Ron Hogan won first prize — a bottle of JD, an Avett Brothers cd, and a pile of books — with 19/25, but I swear I didn’t pass him the answer key beforehand. I won’t identify the second and third prize winners, since I met them for the first time last night, and they might not want to be Googleable here forever.

An extended version of the quiz continues after the jump. (We cut it so everyone could be out in time to get home before Obama’s speech.)

1. Which author, who met and mentored William Faulkner in New Orleans, agreed to recommend Faulkner’s first novel, Soldier’s Pay, to his publisher, provided he didn’t have to read it first?

a. Tennessee Williams
b. Sherwood Anderson
c. Scott Fitzgerald
d. Ernest Hemingway

2. Which soul singer, born in Arkansas, suffered 2nd degree burns when his girlfriend dumped a pot of boiling grits on him?

a. Al Green
b. Sam Cooke
c. Wilson Pickett
d. James Brown

3. Which southern writer flung herself so relentlessly at Katherine Anne Porter while both were at Yaddo, following her around while dressed in dungarees and a man’s white shirt, that Porter, a lesbian-phobe, clung to Eudora Welty, whom she deemed “150 percent female.”

a. Carson McCullers
b. Djuna Barnes
c. Harper Lee
d. Shirley Ann Grau

4. Which novelist and short-story writer of Peruvian extraction is best known for fiction set in his birth country but grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, and argues against a literary culture that views only poor Latinos as “authentic.” (“That last name,” one woman told him at a literary dinner, “it reminds me of a bug that bit me when I was living in Mexico!”)

a. Oscar Hijuelos
b. Richard Rodriguez
c. Daniel Alarcón
d. Junot Díaz

5. What Kentucky band records its music in a silo?

a. My Morning Jacket
b. Uncle Tupelo
c. Iron & Wine
d. The Shins

6. Which Texan writer referred to Proust and Gide as “two preposterously afflicted self-adoring, frankly career-geniuses” who “got in Colette’s light”?

a. Patricia Highsmith
b. Larry McMurtry
c. Katherine Anne Porter
d. Molly Ivins

7. Who wrote the article “In Search of Zora Neale Hurston,” which was published in Ms. in 1975, and is largely credited with reviving interest in Hurston’s work?

a. Toni Morrison
b. Jamaica Kincaid
c. Dorothy Parker
d. Alice Walker

8. Contributed by Jack Pendarvis, author most recently of a novel called Awesome: “Which Alabama Gulf Coast writer placed a story in the first issue of The Paris Review, played an American journalist in Fellini’s 8 1/2, was presented three of her pubic hairs by Tallulah Bankhead, wrote the lyrics for Nino Rota’s theme to Romeo and Juliet (“What Is a Youth?”) sung at the Capulets’ party in Zefferelli’s film, and compiled the 1968 Time-Life Book of Southern Cooking?

a. Truman Capote
b. Eugene Walter
c. Pat Conroy
d. Daniel Wallace

9. Which southern writer so believed in the significance of bourbon that he wrote a whole essay about the aesthetics of drinking it and its superiority to scotch?

a. Larry Brown
b. Harry Crews
c. Walker Percy
d. Barry Hannah

10. Which New Orleans writers whose names include the initials “P” and “Z” fled the city before the storm and blogged afterward about their displacement?

a. Paul Zindel and Poppy Z. Brite
b. Paul Zindel and Pia Z. Ehrhardt
c. Poppy Z. Brite and Pia Z. Ehrhardt
d. Paul Zindel, Poppy Z. Brite, and Pia Z. Ehrhardt

11. Which southern writer made her one and only TV appearance on The Merv Griffin Show?

a. Flannery O’Connor
b. Harper Lee
c. Alice Walker
d. Eudora Welty

12. Which Katrina documentarian, who was in Venice after the storm, said European journalists told him that the images they kept seeing of New Orleans “looked like they were from a third world country, not the almighty United States of America.”

a. Carl Deal
b. Mario Van Peebles
c. Michael Moore
d. Spike Lee

13. Atlanta-born novelist Tayari Jones (The Untelling) contributes the following question: When Koolaid is frozen in styrofoam cups and sold to children for a dime, this product is called?

a. red heaven
b. a frozen cup
c. a snowball
d. southern tomato juice

14. Which Southern writer, who legend has it “once showed up at a writers’ conference in Vermont ‘smelling like a bear’ after walking there from Georgia,” was denied entrance to the creative writing program that later hired him to teach, and described his teaching experiences this way in an interview with the New York Times: “scared little people come and sit in a scared little class and tremble. I didn’t want to do that. Let’s do something memorable, and if we can’t do something memorable, then let’s go home. Or we’ll go across the street and get a drink.”

a. Barry Hannah
b. Harry Crews
c. Charles Portis
d. Larry Brown

15. Which of the following authors lived in Florida, overlapped at the University of Iowa, have published in The New Yorker, and are best known for fiction that’s at least partly inspired by jobs they’ve held other than writing?

a. Yiyun Li and Joshua Ferris
b. Yiyun Li and Chris Adrian
c. Joshua Ferris and Chris Adrian
d. Yiyun Li, Joshua Ferris, and Chris Adrian

16. Anecdote contributed by biographer Joan Schenkar: Which Southern writer once horrified Patricia Highsmith “by finding the radiant face of Jesus in the floor-boards of her dormitory porch?”

a. Flannery O’Connor
b. Eudora Welty
c. Alice Walker
d. Maya Angelou

17. What was the first play written by Tennessee Williams to be performed on Broadway?

a. A Streetcar Named Desire
b. You Touched Me (co-written with Donald Windham)
c. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
d. The Night of the Iguana

18. Which vocalist and friend of James Baldwin was born Eunice Kathleen Waymon in Tryon, North Carolina to a Methodist minister mother and handyman father, and sold the rights to her first album for $3000, ultimately missing out on at least $1 million in royalties?

a. Billie Holliday
b. Ella Fitzgerald
c. Aretha Franklin
d. Nina Simone

19. Who wrote the following to Bruce Springsteen? “It would appear the two of us are rarities in our professions: you as a post-modern musician, I a writer, a novelist and a philosopher. That and your admiration of Flannery O’Connor. She was a dear friend of mine….”

a. Betty Hester
b. William Sessions
c. Walker Percy
d. Iris Murdoch

20. Which Memphis-born musician, honored in a 1987 Replacements song, had to be evacuated from his New Orleans home after Katrina?

a. Alex Chilton
b. Aaron Neville
c. Vasti Jackson
d. Allen Toussaint

21. “I read Richard Wright and Truman Capote and Wendell Berry and Erskine Caldwell and a whole mess of other writers and came upon white people who, in their way, were also just trying to make it to the next day,” Edward P. Jones wrote in the introduction to last year’s New Stories from the South. Which novel by one of these authors had he earlier identified, in another introduction, as “only the fourth book I ever read in my life”?

a. God’s Little Acre
b. The Long Dream
c. Black Boy
d. A Place on Earth

22. What was the name of the place where Alabama writer Carson McCullers lived in Brooklyn with W.H. Auden, Jane and Paul Bowles, Benjamin Britten, and Gypsy Rose Lee?

a. The Astral
b. Inspiration Hall
c. February House
d. The Chelsea Hotel

23. How can you tell the difference between an alligator and a crocodile?

a. shape of the snout
b. visibility of teeth
c. neither a nor b
d. both a and b

24. Which actress did Larry Brown say he could see playing Fay (of his novel of the same name)?

a. Angelina Jolie
b. Natalie Portman
c. Parker Posey
d. Christina Ricci

25. Which grandson of a Florida citrus magnate is considered the father of alt-country and recorded his most elaborate harmonies with Emmylou Harris?

a. Steve Earle
b. Townes Van Zandt
c. Gram Parsons
d. Jason Ringenberg

26. Which southern writer’s first work of nonfiction was an account of an American opera company’s visit to Leningrad to perform Porgy and Bess?

a. Truman Capote
b. Mark Twain
c. Walker Percy
d. H.L. Mencken

27. Which of the following singers recorded a famous version of Merle Haggard’s “Dark as a Dungeon,” about the drudgery and paradoxical lure of laboring in an Appalachian shaft mine?

a. Tammy Wynette
b. Dolly Parton
c. Loretta Lynn
d. Wanda Jackson

28. Anecdote contributed by writer/blogger Carrie Frye: Which North Carolina writer, when drunk, used to bite off pieces of his or her glass and chew on them?

a. Thomas Wolfe
b. Jill McCorkle
c. David Sedaris
d. Allan Gurganus

29. Which southern writer wrote the line, “You have might purty lips.”

a. Barry Hannah
b. James Dickey
c. Padgett Powell
d. Larry Brown

30. What kind of bread do you need for a proper po’boy, whether dressed or undressed?

a. a hoagie roll
b. focaccia
c. a baguette
d. a hamburger bun

31. Which novelist won the Million Writers Award in 2005 for her short story “You Are A 14-Year-Old Arab Chick Who Just Moved to Texas”?

a. Laila Lalami
b. Randa Jarrar
c. Diana Abu-Jaber
d. Alicia Erian

32. Which Mississippi writer attended Ole Miss for one year, but was encouraged by editor Willie Morris to transfer to Bennington? (The same writer, in high school, listed Hunter S. Thompson as beneficiary of his or her life insurance policy.)

a. Rick Bass
b. Eudora Welty
c. Larry Brown
d. Donna Tartt

33. Which author, who turned his back on the southern Presbyterianism of his youth, wrote the following: “In time, the Deity perceived that death was a mistake; a mistake, in that it was insufficient; insufficient, for the reason that while it was an admirable agent for the inflicting of misery upon the survivor, it allowed the dead person himself to escape from all further persecution in the blessed refuge of the grave. This was not satisfactory. A way must be conceived to pursue the dead beyond the tomb”?

a. Charles Portis
b. H.L. Mencken
c. Mark Twain
d. Edgar Allan Poe

34. Which Louisiana city has long been known known as the “Crawfish Capital of the World”?

a. Mobile
b. Breaux Bridge
c. Lafayette
d. New Orleans

Answer Key: 1. b, 2. a, 3. a, 4. c, 5. a, 6. c, 7. d, 8. b, 9. c, 10. c, 11. b, 12. d, 13. b, 14. b, 15. c, 16. a, 17. b, 18. d, 19. c, 20. a, 21. c, 22. c, 23. d, 24. a, 25. c, 26. a, 27. b, 28. a, 29. b, 30. c, 31. b, 32. d, 33. c, 34. b


Newsletter Signup

Subscribe to my free newsletter, Ancestor Trouble.


You might want to subscribe to my free Substack newsletter, Ancestor Trouble, if the name makes intuitive sense to you.