Reed’s postage stamp, though, was even larger than Faulkner’s. To switch metaphors, her canvas was the whole of the South and of the country, stretching from the dives of New Orleans up through her beloved Delta and winding into the northern reaches of Virginia, at Madeira, and extending farther beyond, to the canyons of Manhattan and the enclaves of Long Island. Who else but Julia could be a trusted guide to such a sprawling mass of America, never putting a Manolo Blahnik–shod foot wrong? I can’t think of a single soul.
Born in Greenville, Mississippi, on September 11, 1960, Julia Evans Reed was the daughter of Judy and Clarke Reed. Her mother was a native of Nashville, the child of a prominent Belle Meade family; her father, a businessman and leader of the Mississippi Republican Party who played a role in the years of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush.
As the novelist Jay McInerney recalled, “Julia Reed was Mississippi’s answer to Dorothy Parker, gifted with a biting wit, a fierce intellect, and a generous spirit of hospitality. She was an intellectual and a hedonist, a brilliant raconteur with a colorfully profane vocabulary who could whip up a delicious dinner for twenty of her friends and then drink them all under the table before waking up a few hours later to deliver a sparkling performance on MSNBC. She was unforgettable and irreplaceable.”