Little did I know when I spoke of my favorite authors as writing in a “gritty” way, that a term was already in place for their talents. It’s known as “grit lit.” If you Google it, you’ll find several links explaining who wrote it best, what it means and why it’s so popular. I couldn’t find a direct definition, but the term was linked to “dirty realism” and that was defined as:
“A style of writing originating in the US in the 1980’s which depicts in great detail the seamier or more mundane aspects of ordinary life.”
Sounds about right.
I love stories told with this style of writing. I can’t get enough of it, really. Another term used is “Rough South.” While in Mississippi, we went to Oxford and visited Square Books. I almost thought I’d ascended into heaven when I found a book called “Grit Lit, A Rough South Reader.” The contributors are some of my favorite authors – like Dorothy Allison, Rick Bragg, and Robert Morgan.
Then, I discovered another book, “Larry Browne, A Writer’s Life.” How could I have ever missed HIS biography? He didn’t attend any writing programs, or teach about writing. His success seemed to come from three things – he WAS a natural talent, he lived in Mississippi (which, in my opinion, is a state so deeply southern, so steeped in the roughness and ordinariness of life, just passing through could sway a writer of science fiction to write a southern novel), and last, his perseverance.
What did I do? I bought both books, adding to my already growing pile of reading material. They’ve been placed at the top and my expectation after reading them is to come away with a renewed sense of ability in writing. Reading books like these always fills me with hope, hope I can find a special way with the words of my own stories. Writing that allows a clearer than clear picture to develop in dear reader’s head, a use of words that literally pulls their eyes along the sentences, makes their heart rate go up and most of all, leaves them wanting more.