Tena Clark, in conversation with Natalie Allen | Southern Discomfort: A Memoir

Tena Clark, in conversation with Natalie Allen | Southern Discomfort: A Memoir

Tena Clark was born in 1953 in a tiny Mississippi town close to the Alabama border, where the legacy of slavery and racial injustice still permeated every aspect of life. On the outside, Tena’s childhood looked like a fairy tale. Her father was one of the state’s richest men; her mother was a regal beauty. The family lived on a sprawling farm and had the only swimming pool in town; Tena was given her first car, a royal blue Camaro, at 12. But behind closed doors, Tena’s life was deeply lonely, and chaotic. By the time she was 3, her parents’ marriage had dissolved into a swamp of alcohol, rampant infidelity, and guns. Adding to the turmoil, Tena understood from a very young age that she was different from her three older sisters, all of whom had been beauty queens and majorettes. Tena knew she didn’t want to be a majorette — she wanted to marry one. Combining the spirit of poignant coming-of-age memoirs such as The Glass Castle and vivid, evocative Southern fiction like Fried Green Tomatoes, Southern Discomfort is about the people and places that shape who we are.

Tena Clark is a Grammy Award-winning songwriter, music producer, and activist. Southern Discomfort is her first book. She lives in Atlanta. 

Natalie Allen is an anchor for CNN International based at the network’s global headquarters in Atlanta. She currently anchors CNN Newsroom Thursdays through Sundays.

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