For all you S-Town listeners out there, here’s a list of books to quench your thirst for the Southern gothic.
Citrus County by John Brandon
This suspenseful tale takes place in a swampy town in Florida. As in S-Town, the characters are quirky and damaged, funny and horrifying. At the center of it all is teenage Shelby who “should be her own hero, the first hero of Citrus County. She should rescue her sister from underground, rescue Toby from his life.”–From publisher’s web site.
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
Although this book’s setting of wealthy Savannah, Georgia, is in some ways very different from Woodstock, Alabama, fans of S-Town will appreciate the quirky characters and true crime story. When the local bad boy is shot dead inside of the opulent mansion of a gay antiques dealer, a gripping trial follows.
A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O’Connor
Long before S-Town or podcasts, Flannery O’Connor wrote short stories about outcasts in small Southern towns. O’Connor’s apocalyptic vision of life is expressed through grotesque, often comic situations in which the principal character faces a problem of salvation.
Collected Stories of William Faulkner by William Faulkner
Another classic collection of short stories, this time focusing on the people of rural Mississippi. Start with “A Rose for Emily,” a story about a lonely woman’s strange behavior that is told from the townspeople’s point of view.
Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell
Like the reporter in S-Town, Daniel Woodrell empathizes with his characters in this riveting story. Reaching her sixteenth year in the harsh Ozarks while caring for her poverty-stricken family, Ree Dolly learns that they will lose their house unless her bail-skipping father can be found and made to appear at an upcoming court date.