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Southern Discomfort: A Memoir
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Southern Discomfort: A Memoir

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating details ·  91 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
For readers of beloved memoirs like Educated and The Glass Castle, a riveting and profoundly moving memoir set in rural Mississippi during the Civil Rights era about a white girl coming of age in a repressive society and the woman who gave her the strength to forge her own path—the black nanny who cared for her.

Tena Clark was born in 1953 in a tiny Mississippi town close
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published October 2nd 2018 by Touchstone
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Aug 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Clark grew up in the Jim Crow South with an alcoholic, largely absent mother and a cheating, pride-driven, successful father who is as mean as a snake. Add to this volatile mix, a daughter who does not fit the mold of Southern Belle and you might imagine what ignites. She loves ferociously and is guided through her childhood by a magnanimous and loving black housekeeper who provides stability for the frequently abandoned child. Clark tries, she really does, to be the person her family wishes her ...more
Megan Bell
Aug 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
At turns heartwarming, horrifying, comic, and eye-opening, this memoir, like the Southern family it chronicles, defies easy definition. Whether it’s her mother’s high-speed car shoot-out of her father and his mistress, the powerful mothering the family’s black maid Vergie shows her, or Tena’s coming out to this wild cast of characters, Tena Clark’s memoir of growing up in Jim Crow Mississippi touches on issues of racism, sexuality, family, and the hair-pulling complexities of the South.
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
Take one rural Mississippi town. Mix with a bigoted, wealthy, gun-toting, skirt-chasing, controlling father. Add in a stubborn, alcoholic, drug addicted mother. Blend with a warm effusive black housekeeper who is like a "second mamma". Fold in a gay lonely child with her three older beauty pageant sisters and you get Southern Discomfort. This compelling and engrossing novel kept me captivated for hours. The author, a Grammy award winning songwriter and producer, has created a novel full of warts ...more
Sep 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-arcs
Tena Clark grew up in rural Mississippi during the Civil Rights era, living in a small town that had deep racial divides and no interest in changing things because "that's just the way it is." As one of the daughters of the wealthiest man in town, she was expected to live her life a certain way, but she rebelled against it, determined to live her life the way she chose, no matter what.

Southern Discomfort takes the reader back a time when men were the breadwinners while women were meant to stay h
Oct 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'm utterly floored.

The back of the ARC - I haven't seen the finished book, so I don't know if it's the same - says this is like The Help but with more guns and alcohol, yet is even more touching. There's no better way to summarize this memoir. The prose is absolutely magnificent. I was completely sucked in to the story. Every scene is perfectly vivid and expertly depicted. I Don't usually cry when reading books, let alone memoirs, but this had me weeping. Highly, highly recommend.
Blue Cypress Books
Oct 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
While this life story is definitely Ms. Clark's unique story, she brings all the best shades of Rick Bragg and Jeannette Walls to this most excellent memoir. Highly recommend.
Eileen Campbell
Oct 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautiful memoir of growing up in the Deep South in perhaps its most tumultuous period other than the Civil War. Tena Clark takes us into her home and life in a way that allows us to experience all the beauty and pathos that she grew up with. Highly recommended read!
Hannah Safer
Aug 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: for-work
If this was submitted as a novel it would be rejected on the grounds of being too out-there to be believable. Tena’s family is one for the ages.
Paul Pessolano
Aug 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
“Southern Discomfort” by Tena Clark, published by Touchstone.

Category – Memoir Publication Date – October 02, 2018.

Tena Clark grew up in rural Mississippi in the 1950’s. Her mother was a town beauty who married a young man who had little to show for himself, except an uncanny sense of business. Her father literally owned the town and the Clark’s were, by far, the wealthiest people in town. One would think that Tena would have lived a life of luxury and happiness; after all she was given a brand
Sandy Reilly
"It's like The Help, but with more guns and alcohol." The only thing I would add to this pitch from Tena Clark's agent is to throw in a bit of Steel Magnolias, some Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, and a smidge of Go Set a Watchman. Yes, it's that dramatic.

Clark's true account of growing up in the South with a filthy rich philanderer for a father and a fiercely outlandish alcoholic for a mother would make such a perfect movie that readers will be torn being sympathetic for all she went th
Jul 30, 2018 rated it liked it
This same story cast in a slightly different light could make a modern Southern Gothic memoir. I think many families are slightly bonkers, but Clark's family has that extra bonus of being monied, white, and Southern which gave them entree into being especially excessive, in a fact is stranger than fiction way. Clark's childhood views of racial inequality are poignant and sometimes bittersweet. (Note to book clubs - read this.) (Note to Hollywood - make a movie out of this please.)
Julianne Godoy
Jul 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Would give this 3.5 for the writing if possible. A really great read though, and an incredible story. Felt like The Help meets The Glass Castle meets To Kill A Mockingbird. Would recommend to those who enjoyed the previous books listed!
Jun 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Would do 3.5 if I could. Looking forward to discussing.
Aug 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Yikes! Surviving in a generationally dysfunctional family but still have congenial relations. This is that story.
Kathy Ridenour
Oct 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing

If I could give Tena Clark's book Southern Discomfort a 10 I would. I received my book in the mail just this afternoon and once I started reading it I couldn't stop until I finished it. It is a riveting, true life story that pulls you into Tena's life so strong that you actually feel like she is sitting beside you telling you her story in person. Tena is one gutsy lady to have lived the life that she lived and not only survive it, but flourish in spite of it. Who would dare as a teenager to stan
Stephanie Stennett
Aug 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Firstly I had no idea who Tena Clark is. Big in music and to some extent theatre. So wasn't reading because *she* wrote it.
I still don't think it covers much new ground. Feels pretty typical "here's my crazy southern childhood." Grits and guns! And lots of booze. An abusive father who is still loved and respected until his death. (I don't care if he is revealed to have done lots of secret magnanimous things after his death. He was still a bully, a womanizer, a cheating husband, a child abuser,
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I overheard someone describe this book as “The Help” with guns and, oh by the way, guess what, it’s true! I loved it!
I haven’t read a book in a long time that was so compelling a read that I couldn’t put it down. Ms. Clark’s words provoked brilliant imagery of what seemed like an idyllic happy southern small-town privileged childhood. I can just see little Ms. Tena walking hand in hand with her sweet Virgie, the black nanny who lovingly cared for her.
There is humor, and beauty in her journey.
Catherine Mincy
Nov 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
While the gentrified old south Mississippi that Clark writes of is very different from foothills of the Appalachian northeast Mississippi where I grew up and live today, what she writes is authentic and accurate.

Clark is also 15 years older than me. However, I am thankful that she wrote this book and gives voice to so many people I know who grew up with similar experiences.

I wanted to laugh at points because I recognized behavior that so many outsiders would find outlandish and unbelievable. (A
Brooke Howe
Oct 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Wow, what a journey. I read this book because my mom is in the book and Tena is her cousin. I remember a story or two, but had no idea what it must have been like in Waynesboro during that time. Mom also mentioned that she never really knew what all was going on in the Clark household growing up because people just didn't talk about what went on behind closed doors back then. I thought the book was well put together and was a sometimes fun, sometimes emotional memoir. Maybe knowing the character ...more
Oct 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book. So much heart, and so much drama in the dysfunctional family Clark grew up in. There’s kindness and wisdom in her telling. It’s hard to believe the prejudice that existed not that long ago in this Southern’s also so hard to know so much of it still exists today.
Mary Helen
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Wonderful Read

This book made me laugh, cry, and think. Three things that, to me, are most important in any book. I highly recommend it.
Julie Barnard
Oct 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Not great, but worth reading.
Maggie Marshall
Nov 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Gut wrenching, beautifully written coming of age story in the south. These dysfunctional parents make the “Glass Castle” parents seem like saints.
Brooke Kingsley
Nov 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book is wow. I don’t typically read non fiction but it was a gift. She hooks you in with her story right away. The perfect amount of laughter and tears!
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Nov 03, 2018
Mary Soignet
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Oct 16, 2018
Diana Fast
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Oct 28, 2018
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From the Author's website:

What musical touchstone does President Barack Obama share with Aretha Franklin, dubbed the greatest singer of the rock era by Rolling Stone Magazine? The answer is the expertise of Tena Clark. A musical compass has guided Clark from humble beginnings as a drummer and engineer in rural Mississippi, to being discovered by Stevie Wonder and mentored in Hollywood. She has wri