Storytelling Served Southern-Side-UpMay 06, 2023
By Adrienne MacIain, Ph.D.
“‘You sweet thing you.’ May often said this to me. When she reached out her arms for a hug. When I called her on the phone for no particular reason at all. ‘Stay sweet,’ were her parting words on phone calls. These were her unique ways of saying ‘I love you’.”
-Chris Chandler, Stay Sweet: Tales of Quirky Southern Love
Are you weary of the world’s cynicism and mean-spiritedness? Have you had it with negativity and snark?
What if you could transport yourself to a world as warm as beach sand and as sweet as Southern tea, just by opening a book of quirky and delightful stories?
That is the gift of Stay Sweet.
Though she’s made her home in the West for many years, part of this author Chris Chandler’s heart still lives in the small central Georgia town where she was born and raised. In this balm for the soul, Chris takes you straight to the heart of her off-beat, deeply loving family through charming retellings of her favorite family tales.
“These are the stories that I can’t get enough of,” confesses Chris, “Even though I’m 61 and have heard them all a thousand times, I always ask to hear them again.”
And she’s not the only one.
“Every time I read or tell one of these stories,” says Chris, “the response is ‘I want to hear more!’ They make people smile and laugh. I wanted to preserve the stories for my family, but also to offer them to the world. As medicine. As reminders that, despite some of the ugliness in the world, love and joy remain.”
This book is for those who need a break from the relentless stream of bad news and dystopian pessimism on full display in our mainstream media, who want to be reminded that there's still good in the world, who want to sit down on a big old wrap-around porch with a cup of tea, and find some comfort and joy.
“There's a lot out there in the news to make us feel like the world is going to hell,” Chris admits, “but closer in, there is goodness, love, sweetness. I hope this book and these stories balance out the yuck in the world and give people a place to feel ease and comfort.”
Chris believes in a world where love, kindness, and the sweetness of a grandmother's love are taken just as seriously as the destructive forces of divisive politics, violence, and hate.
“We have a magnet on our fridge that says ‘kindness doesn't cost a thing, sprinkle that shit everywhere.’ Kindness, love: they're the same thing.”
This collection speaks to a sense of place, belonging, and the way we’re shaped by our stories, and the people we share them with. We humans think in stories, it’s the way we understand our world. So much of our lives revolve around creating and sharing stories, as individuals, and as families, partners, friends, and communities.
“The importance of storytelling has never gone away,” says Chris, “I think we've seen a new devotion to the preservation of stories and storytelling in the rise of podcasting, blogs, story slams, NPR's Story Corp project, and the ongoing popularity of books, TV series and movies. People love a good story.”
When asked what was the biggest obstacle Chris had to overcome in order to share these stories with the world, Chris answered, “Myself! Trusting the sense that I had something to say and had the ability to put it onto the page.”
Having read Stay Sweet, I can state with no hesitation: not only did Chris have something to say and the ability to say it, you’re gonna want to hear it. So pour yourself a cuppa, grab a box of tissues and that old afghan quilt you inherited, and settle in for a wild ride of laughter, tears, nostalgia, and above all, hope.
Chris is a storyteller and author. She helps women find their stories and their voices by facilitating writing circles for women. Learn more: www.linktr.ee/chrischandler
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