Re-wilding the Land – a Review of Alix Hawley’s All True Not a Lie in It

  All True Not a Lie in It.  Ha!  Daniel Boone is one of the most picked-over commodities in pioneer pop culture, (though admittedly he hasn’t had a major spike in interest since Fess Parker’s TV Boone had ‘60s kids sporting coon-skin caps).  If there’s a truth left below the varnish of 250 years of […]

Going Underground on the Eastern Shore – the new Harriet Tubman park

One of the dynamics that happens in marginalized places, (and I’ll count the Eastern Shore, where I live, as one of those), is that the people who live in them can internalize that marginalization and begin to believe that nothing significant ever happens there.  Or we latch on to narrow stereotypes of what the region […]

Humor & Theology at the Chemo Pump – A Review of Cancer is Funny

My review of Jason Micheli’s Cancer is Funny: Keeping Faith in Stage-Serious Chemo [Fortress Press, 2016] is now up on the great Englewood Review of Books.  Full disclosure: Jason is one of the pastors I work with in the Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church and I was on one of his recent podcasts of Crackers […]

Post-election Reading – my interview with Mark Athitakis concludes – part 3

I discovered Mark Athitakis and his new book, The New Midwest: A Guide to Contemporary Fiction of the Great Lakes, Great Plains, and Rust Belt, in an article on The Huffington Post where Mark was interviewed.  Then I thought, if HufPo can do it, why can’t I?  So, I contacted Mark and well, here we are. Mark’s field is […]

Keeping the Midwest Weird: My interview with Mark Athitakis continues – part 2

In my last interview blog post with the writer Mark Athitakis, “Why we we’ve got to get Willa out of the cornfield”, we talked about the plural landscape of the Midwest, something he covered in his new book, The New Midwest: A Guide to Contemporary Fiction of the Great Lakes, Great Plains, and Rust Belt.  Today we […]

Why we’ve got to get Willa out of the cornfield – an interview with Mark Athitakis (part 1)

Mark Athitakis is one of those people who resists the impulse to reduce things to stereotype, which is one of the guiding values of this blog.  Athitakis’s field of inquiry is Midwestern fiction and he has written on books for a number of publications including The New York Times, Washington Post, and Belt Magazine, which […]

Rural is Plural

This article originally appeared in the great Topology magazine.   We were in danger of becoming a caricature.  When a parent stood up at a local school board meeting and expressed her dismay at a word being used in two books in the school library, blogposts and news stories from New York to Singapore decried the benighted […]