Long Loves in a Small Coastal Town: A Review of In West Mills

De’Shawn Charles Winslow’s debut novel begins with an arresting scene. Pratt Shepherd is in the middle of a fight with his free-spirited girlfriend in a small, coastal North Carolina town on the eve of World War 2. However, Azalea ‘Knot’ Centre, a sometime teacher at the local school for African-American children, is nobody’s possession. When […]

Dr. Livingstone? Don’t Presume: Bringing the Bones Out of Africa

Even when I was a child in the 1960s and 70s there was still some adventurer’s romance attached to the words of Henry Stanley upon finding his quarry: Dr. Livingstone, I presume? Despite the flood of newly independent African nations in that era, people could still be heard referring to Africa as “the dark continent” […]

The Not-So-Calm Before the Storm: Jesmyn Ward’s Katrina Story

Katrina doesn’t arrive until Salvage the Bones is almost over, but the hurricane has always been coming. She broods over the whole of Jesmyn Ward’s epic 2011 novel, even when the only one who seems to know she’s on the way is Esch’s Daddy, whose preparations seem excessive to his four children living with him […]

Getting Beyond ‘Should’ to What ‘Is’: The Virginia Reeves Interview Concludes

My interview with Virginia Reeves, author of The Behavior of Love, concludes with some thoughts on ‘should’ and the struggles of human beings in love to connect. (The interview begins here.) One of the other big words in this book for me is the word ‘should.’ In fact, you title a whole section ‘Should.’ I […]

“Behavior is a Fraction of Who We Are”: Virginia Reeves Interview (2 of 3)

In the previous segment of our interview with Virginia Reeves, we talked about the origins of her new book, The Behavior of Love, and the inspiration for one of its main characters, Ed, a behaviorist working within a Montana institution. In the second part of the interview we discuss behavior, identity, and the windows of […]

Not Fixated on the Future: Finding Presence with Virginia Reeves (1 of 3)

Virginia Reeves is a confounding author. How does someone who can capture the beauty of landscape and human relationships with such rich writing also manage to resist the expectations of what books about such things must be like? Just when you think you know how her stories will go, when you’ve seen the end of […]