Home Is Pretty Nice: An Evening with Jane Borden

Southern debutante-turned New Yorker read from her new book at Atomic Books in Hampden.

Author and comedian Jane Borden’s new book, I Totally Meant To Do That, is a memoir of sorts that draws a humorous contrast between her upbringing as a North Carolina debutante, and her current life in New York City.

It's a split Maryland residents have a curious perspective on.

Atomic Books co-owner Benn Ray, who hosted her reading on Wednesday and introduced Borden, explained his perspective on how the paradox affects residents of the Old Line State.

Ray ruminated that everyone south of the state thinks Marylanders are Yankees, and everyone North of the Mason-Dixon Line thinks the state’s residents are rednecks.

He explained that people at the small college he attended in Virginia would say to him, without a hint of irony, “The South will rise up and do it again.'"

"By 'again,' do you mean lose?” Ray would ask. 

By contrast, his friends in Philadelphia, Boston and New York tease him for being a Southerner.

Borden has experienced a similar dynamic.

Her humor draws on friends and family from the South.

She also uses the expectations of her Southern relatives and childhood friends about her life in New York City for comic effect.

Most of her selections from her book involved her aunt, whose adherence to traditional Southern behavior is at once cute, hilarious and deeply frightening.

She explained how her aunt's gift packages have become the stuff of legend at Borden’s office, where her workmates examine their contents like something "from an archaeological dig."

But while a lesser humorist would be satisfied with a book of cheap jokes at their hometown's expense, Borden portrays herself as a wanderer between the cultures of North Carolina and New York, both of which have their higher and lower brows.

She described her book as a detailing of "the specifics of culture clash ... about that time in your life when you run away from home as far and fast as you can," only to discover that home "is pretty nice, actually."

Given her attitude, it's only fitting that, by comparing them, she ultimately looks with fondness on them both.

Atomic Books' next event is an evening with Will Potter, author of Green Is the New Red, on Thursday, April 21.


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