Terry Southern was credited by Tom Wolfe as having invented “New Journalism” with the publication of “Twirling at Ole Miss” in Esquire in 1962, and his gift for writing memorable film dialogue was evident in Dr. Strangelove, The Loved One, The Cincinnati Kid, Easy Rider and The Magic Christian. .
As his popularity faded, Southern became a favorite of the kind of hipster for whom the more obscure and clever the author, the cooler he was. Now, however, a broad Terry Southern revival is in full swing. This month saw the inaugural Terry Southern Prize for Humor awarded at the Paris Review Spring Revel; The New York Observer reports on presenter Fran Lebowitz’s comment:
“I wonder if Terry Southern would have won a Terry Southern award for humor. The answer, of course, is no.”
Most recently, Publishers Weekly reports that Southern’s son, Nile, is working with Jane Friedman’s Open Road Media to publish ebook editions of Candy (written with Mason Hoffenberg); Flash and Filigree; The Magic Christian; Blue Movie; Texas Summer; and Red-Dirt Marijuana:
The e-books will each include new covers and an illustrated biography of Southern that will feature photos and documents from his life. Open Road is also offering a selection of commentary and video content on Southern on the Open Road Media Web site that will feature interviews with Nile Southern, author Fran Lebowitz and author John Jeremiah Sullivan. In addition, Open Road’s e-book program follows a declaration by the city of Dallas, Texas that May 1, Southern’s birthday, will be declared Terry Southern Day in Dallas, the city where Southern spent much of his early life and where he set some of his novels.
Open Road ’s digital publishing program comes in conjunction with The Terry Southern Project, a program launched at SXSW by the University of Colorado’s Boulder Digital Works, to revive interest in Southern’s life and in his reputation for literary and cultural subversiveness. Under the direction of former advertising professional David Slayden, BDW’s real world and online viral-style promotions included flash mobs and eccentric posters placed around Austin, Texas that included QR codes linked to additional online content. BDW has launched a website on Southern called reddirtcollective.com, named after his novel, Red Dirt Marijuana…
For fans of Southern, this is great news. For those who’ve not sampled his rare brand of humor, now would be a good time to sample some!