Why become a DETOURIST?

The DETOURIST belongs to the ecosystem of A DEEPER SOUTH.1 My name is Pete Candler, and I am responsible for what you see and hear here. I work in black and white, in film photography and words on a page. My images, often shot from a direct, frontal perspective, are intended to effect a confrontation with suppressed histories. My work emerges from the particular experience of traveling the American South for over 25 years, and unlearning the myths of history and self with which I was raised. Reflecting these images and their companion narratives will open up in the viewer a space for a reckoning with American history in the South, and how the viewer’s own history may intersect with that larger story.

This Substack is called the DETOURIST because ADS has been driven from the beginning by a desire to get off the main road, to follow where it leads, and not to plan too hard. The results are sometimes a bust, but more often than not they are revealing in totally unpredictable ways. I believe that DETOURISM is more than just a mode of travel; it is a way of life, even what you might call a kind of spiritual discipline. In my latest book, The Road to Unforgetting: Detours in the American South 1997-2022, I write that the “operative principle of this exercise is a voluntary assent to uncertainty, in the trust that the act of yielding mastery in this small way can be liberating. This act of assent can be highly generative. It is both disorienting and exciting to have no idea and no control over what you will come to know (or un-know) about yourself about the world you inhabit. It requires a certain kind of openness to the unplanned, a willingness not to see too far ahead, an ability to bob and weave, to change course on short notice. The learning is in the doing, in the going. This is true not just of road trips, but of life.”

I have been writing and publishing photo essays at adeepersouth.com since January 2019. In 2022, I moved over to Substack because I believe in the platform’s mission to support writers, and because I enjoy the kinds of interaction with other writers, photographers, and readers that Substack encourages.

There are four subscription tiers at The DETOURIST.

The first tier is the free version, which costs you absolutely nothing.

The second and third tiers are paid subscriptions: You can subscribe monthly at $7.00 a month, or annually for $70. Like many Substacks, these levels offer occasional perks and early access to my writings. But unlike almost every Substack, being a paid member of The DETOURIST means you get exclusive discounts at select independent and university presses, which I have hand-picked because I believe in the upstream effort these presses are making to produce first-rate work in fiction, general non-fiction and academic scholarship. Furthermore, I know they need our support, and that the work they do often doesn’t get the attention it deserves. So by being a paid subscriber, you get access to much more than just my work: you get to buy books directly from some of the best publishers in the South, while supporting what they do, too.

The fourth tier at The Detourist is called The Founding Members Plan. Like the other paid subscriptions, it gets you all of the above, but I will also send you a complimentary copy of my new book, The Road to Unforgetting.

Think about it. I’d love to have you on board the Followship, at whatever level suits you. I am just glad you’re here.


To find out more about the company that provides the tech for this newsletter, visit Substack.com.


“The vision of A Deeper South is rooted in the idea that the spiritual, political, and cultural health of a nation, region, city, town, or person depends upon an honest and unflinching memory; that the gravest danger to our cities and ourselves is a willful amnesia; that hope is to be found through the work of active remembrance, putting back together the fragments of personhood scattered by a culture of selective memory.”

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Dispatches from A DEEPER SOUTH on the Beauty, Mystery, and Sorrow of the Southern Road


Writer — Photographer — Filmmaker Author of THE ROAD TO UNFORGETTING (2022) and A DEEPER SOUTH (2024) “An important voice in the discussion of Southern culture and history.” —MICHAEL W. TWITTY