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Georgia has a rich literary and musical tradition. If you’re looking for ways to explore this heritage beyond the obvious selections, here are a few starting points to help you navigate the back catalog.

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The Allman Brothers Band Atlanta Rhythm Section, the onetime Doraville studio session band that released more than a dozen albums, peaking with 1978’s Champagne Jam, or the Georgia Satellites, known for 1980s hits “Keep Your Hands to Yourself” and “Hippy Hippy Shake.”
Ray Charles Willie Lee Perryman, aka Piano Red, aka Dr. Feelgood, was known for his
raucous “barrelhouse blues,” while “Blind Willie” McTell, master of the
twelve-string guitar, recorded under multiple aliases, including
“Pig ’n’ Whistle Red.”
R.E.M. Dreams So Real was part of the 1980s Athens alt-rock scene
and, like Marietta’s Guadalcanal Diary of the same era, racked up
plenty of college-radio airplay.
Alice Walker’s The Color Purple Youngblood by John Oliver Killens, who was born in Macon and cofounded the Harlem Writers Guild, chronicles daily life in small-town Georgia, while Walter White’s The Fire in the Flint was a critically acclaimed account of a lynching.
Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man Is Hard to Find short-story collection The stories in Mary Hood’s collection How Far She Went are set in the small-town South and won the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, while Drinking Coffee Elsewhere,the acclaimed debut by ZZ Packer, draws on Packer’s Atlanta childhood.
Pat Conroy’s The Great Santini Instead of Conroy’s autobiographical novel about being raised by an abusive father,
sample The Last Radio Baby, Raymond Andrews’s memoir of growing up in a Georgia
sharecropping community in the 1930s and 1940s, or Be Sweet: A Conditional Love
Story, Roy Blount Jr.’s bittersweet memoir about his mother. 
Anne Rivers Siddons’s Peachtree Road A big family secret (bigamy!) is at the center of Tayari Jones’s Silver Sparrow, while
Southern traditions are challenged in Susan Rebecca White’s Bound South.


This article originally appeared in the November 2012 issue.


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