Category: Fiction

  • Glorious Excess: S.A. Cosby and the Future of Southern Fiction

    Glorious Excess: S.A. Cosby and the Future of Southern Fiction

    S.A. Cosby knows that he’s prone to excess. He told The Guardian as much in an interview last year: “I write long sentences. I like similes (maybe too much, according to some reviewers). I like to write esoterically. I pontificate and wax poetic in the middle of gunfights. That’s my style.” –S.A. Cosby In his […]

  • The Audacity of Jonathan Franzen’s Crossroads

    The Audacity of Jonathan Franzen’s Crossroads

    It’s hard to know where to start when talking about Jonathan Franzen’s new novel, Crossroads. Do you start with the audacity? Franzen ripping across the page, delving into the minds of female and Native American characters with abandon and heedless of the caution so much of contemporary literature has fallen prey to? How about the […]

  • #1 & a Recap:The Heartlands Best Reads of 2021

    #1 & a Recap:The Heartlands Best Reads of 2021

    George Saunders is our first time two-time recipient of the much-coveted Heartlands Best Reads award. Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo haunted and charmed back in 2017, but it was his master class on storytelling that captivated me this year. Saunders is a professor of creative writing at Syracuse University and he has influenced a generation […]

  • #3 – My Monticello by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson – 2021 Best Reads

    #3 – My Monticello by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson – 2021 Best Reads

    Moving back to my old hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia in the summer of 2021, I was aware that a lot had changed since I left 16 years ago. No book chronicled and processed those changes better than the debut collection of stories by Charlottesville writer Jocelyn Nicole Johnson. My Monticello, particularly the included novella with […]

  • Who Needs Shakespeare? Hamnet Surely Doesn’t

    Who Needs Shakespeare? Hamnet Surely Doesn’t

    The buzz over Maggie O’Farrell’s Hamnet: A Novel of the Plague has been wildly positive. The New York Times declared it one of its 10 best of 2020. The National Book Critics Circle named it the best work of fiction of the year. I’m not here to say they’re wrong about the quality of the […]

  • Carson McCullers at 104

    Carson McCullers at 104

    “Mick is perhaps the most outstanding character in the book.” Carson McCullers is describing a central character in her remarkable debut novel, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.  “At the beginning of the second part of the work she steps out boldly—and from then on, up until the last section, she commands more space and […]

  • #1 and a Recap: The Heartlands Best Reads of 2020

    #1 and a Recap: The Heartlands Best Reads of 2020

    Topping this year’s list of Best Reads is Yaa Gyasi’s sophomore novel, Transcendent Kingdom. It’s a book about race, the South, the immigrant experience, science, family, and faith. It captures a lot of the interests of this web site and it’s flat great writing. You can read the full review by clicking the link but […]

  • #5-As I Lay Dying-Heartlands 2020 Best Reads

    #5-As I Lay Dying-Heartlands 2020 Best Reads

    Part of my return to the classics this year included another run at William Faulkner. I had only ever gotten through an audio version of A Light in August, which I listened to on a drive across the South a few years ago. The Sound and the Fury seemed impossible, but I started this year’s […]

  • #7-One of Ours-Heartlands 2020 Best Reads

    #7-One of Ours-Heartlands 2020 Best Reads

    I got to Willa Cather late. Despite encouragement through the years that I would find her a fellow traveller, I only got to My Antonía a few years ago. But it was enough to get me primed for more, and when a New Yorker article suggested that her 1922 novel One of Ours made a […]

  • The Heartlands Best Reads for 2020! #10—Nothing Happened

    The Heartlands Best Reads for 2020! #10—Nothing Happened

    For the last four years, I’ve been producing a list of Best Reads to end the year on Heartlands. It’s an eclectic collection and should not be mistaken for one of those Top Ten lists of books that actually appeared in print during the current year. Especially this year when the pandemic sent me back […]