American English is deficient in not having a word that, if not the antonym of carpetbagger, at least suggests the idea of traffic going the other way. The carpetbaggers, it will be recalled, were those northerners who headed south after the Civil War to cash in on the Reconstruction. The word I seek would describe those southerners—southern writers, specifically—who, nearly a century later, headed north to cash in by describing the period of American history that may someday go by the name of the Deconstruction. I say north, but I really mean Manhattan; I say Deconstruction, but I really mean that scrambling of ideals and morals, that blurring of meaning about fundamental matters, which has been so notable a feature of contemporary life in recent decades. Truman, Bill, Willie, Tom, these southerners headed north as if toward home, to play off the title of an autobiography written by one among them. To...


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