Jenn Shapland is no doubt right that those who fall under the spell of Carson McCullers are an obsessive lot. (And I count myself among them.) As she surveyed the landscape in writing her new book My Autobiography of Carson McCullers, she found that “everyone had a claim to lay, an attachment to prove. Everybody […]
“I think he got parvo. I think he picked it up out the dirt.” …”Maybe he just sick, Skeet.” “What if it’s in the dirt? What if the rest of them get infected?” —Salvage the Bones, Jesmyn Ward It took some chutzpah for Willie Morris, at the age of roughly 33, to believe that his […]
I’ve sung the praises of Mary Karr on Heartlands before, recognizing a seminal moment in my own development as a writer and human being that was spurred by her 2008 presentation at the Festival of Faith & Writing. But my very first introduction to Karr, the memoirist and poet, was a book that was given […]
My trembling finger once marked a woman in a year I knew would end the ritual of her annual ash. ‘Remember you are dust…” I faltered on the rest. Do doctors feel so transgressive when they are forced to break the polite illusion of immortality? We all know it’s not true. Death haunts our every […]
‘Let it learn in sackcloth colors to thrive on desire alone.’ —Kimberly Johnson, ‘Ash Garden’ What if what ails us is that we are not hungry enough? Hear me out. This week the Christian calendar turns to the season of Lent, a time when Christians have traditionally reexamined their lives in light of Jesus’ journey […]
I made the mistake of introducing myself to Philip Roth by reading one his later work. Indignation, a 2008 novel, drew on some of Roth’s familiar themes—Jewish identity, American identity, relationships—but it had none of the spark I was hoping for. It felt like an older man’s attempt to imagine himself back into first love. […]
Come to the Eastern Shore of Virginia two centuries ago and more and you would have found Methodist preachers traveling their circuits in pairs. It was the normal way in the early days of our denomination. Going solo was the exception. The first American Methodists formed their clergy by sending them straight to ministry with […]
There are so many ways that a story of addiction can go wrong, especially when it is narrated within a framework of fall and redemption. On one level, the stories are so similar that we feel we can trace the arc before opening the cover—the prelapsarian idyll, the first hints of trouble, the descent into […]
Recently I had the opportunity to write a story about the Australian brushfires for the great FaithLink resource. The main essay from that curriculum is now up on Ministry Matters. Come for the spectacle of the fire. Stay for the musings about how we’ve killed nuance and the opportunity to really see what we’re seeing. Click here.
My piece on visiting Appomattox Court House is up on the blog of StreetLight Magazine. Click here.