Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

Hampton Sides

Entirely His Own Man

As a teenager, Hampton Sides wanted to be a rock star, and his band practiced in the same house where Shelby Foote was writing his magnum opus

April 11, 2011 Shelby Foote was the first writer I ever met, and the only writer I ever personally knew until I left my hometown of Memphis and went off to college. And so my image of what a writer was supposed to look like, sound like, and smell like, came first and foremost from him. I vaguely sensed even as a high-school teenager that I wanted to be a writer, but watching him, studying him, I couldn’t see how I could get there. I couldn’t see myself wielding a quill pen. My Southern accent was strong enough, but lacked Shelby’s beautiful custardy lilts and Delta diphthongs. And I knew I could never pull off a masterpiece of a beard like his.

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