Yankee Interloper and Native Son: Carl Carmer and Clarence Cason: Unlikely Twins of Alabama Expose

18

ACCESS PURCHASE
Students and scholars can access articles for free via Project Muse.

Yankee Interloper and Native Son: Carl Carmer and Clarence Cason: Unlikely Twins of Alabama Expose

by Philip D. Beidler
Southern Cultures, Vol. 9, No. 1: Spring 2003

"'Like a fickle lover, the South has a way of tormenting those who care most about her.'"

In the early 1930s, Carl Carmer and Clarence Cason wrote two remarkably similar, controversial cultural exposés of early-twentieth-century Alabama—Stars Fell on Alabama (1934) and 90 Degrees in the Shade (1935). One author was a cultural outsider; the other was an Alabamian born and bred. Yet despite this difference, the shared cultural fable they fashioned became an intensely southern story: both humorous and dark, teasing and haunted, absurd and poignant to the point of being lurid in Carmer’s case and even tragic in Cason’s. Moreover, the authors’ strangely intertwined destinies, down to the similarities of their names and the comparable subjects and timing of their books, are marked by biographical and literary coincidences hardly seen in fiction, not to mention history. Yet their story is equally important as a parable of numerous intensely human missed connections and ill-imagined mirrorings as well—the ironies of a peculiarly southern and peculiarly modern set of meanings and morals.