Roadside South

A richly nuanced look at the roadside South in all its quirkiness.
Date Published :
June 2022
Publisher :
George F Thompson Publishing
Contributor(s) :
David Wharton, Steve Yarbrough
Illustration :
130 duotone photographs
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding : Hardback
ISBN : 9781938086823
Pages : 184
Dimensions : 9 X 11 inches
Stock Status : In stock


Much of the American South, especially its small towns and rural areas, is connected not by interstate highways but through a web-like network of country roads, many of which appear only on the most detailed of maps. These are the backroads that most Southerners drive on every day. Unlike the interstates, whose roadsides have been largely scrubbed clean of regional character, these smaller roads travel through unplanned, vernacular landscapes that tell much about local life, both past and present, and suggest that we make connections between the two.

David Wharton has been traveling throughout the American South since 1999, resulting in his first two books — Small Town South (2012) and The Power of Belief: Spiritual Landscapes from the Rural South (2016). As he journeyed, he often paused to make pictures of hamlets and the countryside he was driving through that did not fit the themes of those earlier books. These are scenes that speak to a sense of wonderment, or curiosity, about how those landscapes came to be and how they reflect a complex past with a modern-day world in which the urban competes with the rural in nearly every way.

In Roadside South, the third book in Wharton’s magical Trilogy of the American South, the photographer captures the quirky and the humorous, the sometimes sad and sometimes ironic scenes that are commonplace along the local, county, and state roads of the South. No artist has revealed the on-the-ground truth of the South as Wharton has, giving rise to a new understanding of and appreciation for a distinctive regional culture that all too frequently, and sometimes mistakenly, is imagined as a bastion of rural and small-town virtue.

About The Author

David Wharton, since 1999, has been Director of Documentary Studies and an assistant professor of Southern studies in the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi in Oxford. His photographs have been exhibited throughout the United States, Latin America, and Europe, and he is the author of The Power of Belief: Spiritual Landscapes from the Rural South (George F. Thompson Publishing, 2016) and Small Town South (George F. Thompson Publishing, 2012), which respectively won the 2017 and 2013 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award in Photography, and The Soul of a Small Texas Town: Photographs, Memories, and History from McDade (University of Oklahoma Press, 2000).

Steve Yarbrough was born and raised in Mississippi and currently is a professor in the Department of Writing, Literature, and Publishing at Emerson College in Boston. His novels include The Unmade World (Unbridled Books, 2018), winner of the 2019 Massachusetts Book Award in Fiction, The Realm of Last Chances (Alfred A. Knopf, 2013), Safe from the Neighbors (Alfred A Knopf, 2010), The End of California (Alfred A. Knopf, 2006), Prisoner of War (Alfred A. Knopf, 2004), which was a finalist for the 2005 PEN/Faulkner Award, and The Oxygen Man (MacMurray & Beck, 1999), winner of the 1999 California Book Award, 2000 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award in Fiction, and 2000 Mississippi Authors Award. In 2010, he also received the Richard Wright Award for Literary Excellence.


“Wharton’s rich visual iconography is festooned with pigs, fake lawn deer, hand-lettered signs, churches, and abandoned vehicles. A singular sense of place forms; Wharton’s view of an eclectic rural Southern identity is conveyed with aplomb.”

- Foreword Reviews

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