The Shoe Burnin’: Stories of Southern Soul is a collection of the works of 24 diverse, talented southern writers and singers.


Ed Southern is a North Carolina native and a graduate of Wake Forest University. His first two books were part of John F. Blair, Publisher’s “Real Voices, Real History” TM series. The Jamestown Adventure: Accounts of the Virginia Colony, 1605-1614, published in 2004, was a collection of contemporary accounts of the first permanent English colony in America. Voices of the American Revolution in the Carolinas, released in 2009, told the story of the tide-turning Southern Campaign through the words of those who lived and fought their way through that tumult.

Southern is also editor of the anthology Sports in the Carolinas: From Death Valley to Tobacco Road, which combines personal essays and informative articles to examine why sports mean so much to so many in the Carolinas.

Southern’s first work of fiction, Parlous Angels, came out in the fall of 2009. Lee Smith described it as “carefully written, with the best dialogue I’ve read in years, these terrific and utterly original stories are made to last — like a stone pathway or a brick wall.”

Southern has been executive director of the North Carolina Writers’ Network since January 2008, after more than eight years with John F. Blair, Publisher. He lives in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Excerpt from The Shoe Burnin': Stories of Southern Soul

“Boots” by Ed Southern

What those college kids wore on their feet was their second amazement. Did they neither know nor imagine that this ground was thick with weapons of infection, with rusty nails and metal shards sharper than X-ACTO knives, with splinters and screws and broken glass?

And that was just in the ground, in the churned-up yards and the street; no one wearing shoes like those could wade sensibly into the wrecks and ruins and heaps of shambles in which they were there to work.

Yet they were come among it shod in nothing but old tennis shoes, or even—Jesus!—elaborate sandals, nothing but thin strips of rubber, canvas, or imitation leather between them and punctures, staph or lockjaw. Aaron and Jason realized that these college kids, in the run of their lives, never had a call for serious boots like Aaron’s Red Wings or Jason’s Justins, but that did not lessen their amazement. Did they think they’d float above this damage all about? Were they not intent on the task they’d volunteered to do?


Parlous Angels

“Ed Southern’s stories are about hard work and hard times and what is required of a boy to become a man in such a place and time. They are also about class—that taboo subject in America—and about anger, love, and yearning. Carefully written, with the best dialogue I’ve read in years, these terrific and utterly original stories are made to last—like a stone pathway or a brick wall.”

—Lee Smith, author of On Agate Hill and The Last Girls

“Ed Southern has written a luminous collection of stories, chronicling the life and times of several generations of a family in the North Carolina piedmont. As the time and place become more complex, so do the people evolve from rural working-class men to urban intellectuals with new moral conflicts to contend with. This is a thoughtful and perceptive work, written with skill and affection by a Tarheel born and bred.”

—Sharyn McCrumb, author of St. Dale and Once Around the Track



The Shoe Burnin': Stories of Southern Soul (2013)

Voices of the American Revolution in the Carolinas (Real Voices, Real History) (2009)

Parlous Angels (2009)

Sports in the Carolinas: From Death Valley to Tobacco Road (2009)

The Jamestown Adventure: Accounts of the Virginia Colony, 1605-1614 (Real Voices, Real History) (2004)