In Praise of Uncomfortable Books: Huck & Harper Revisited

Huck and Harper are on the block again and I’m not comfortable with that.  Then again, I think it’s high time we all got uncomfortable. In late 2016, as I was beginning Heartlands, I reflected on the controversy that was roiling Accomack County, Virginia where I live.  Only that’s not strictly accurate.  The decision by […]

A Reporter Comes to the Shore: My interview with Monica Hesse – part 1 of 3

Monica Hesse, an author and reporter for the Washington Post, came to the Shore to write a book about the spate of arsons that took place on the Eastern Shore between 2012 and 2013.  That resulted in the bestselling book, American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land, which I recently reviewed on Heartlands. Monica agreed […]

Love and Arson on the Eastern Shore: A Review of American Fire

It’s in the nature of small towns and isolated places to believe they’re special.  Recently I drove through Ayden, North Carolina and found a historical marker revealing that President Washington had spent the night in 1791…10 miles east.  It was something. So when the Eastern Shore of Virginia showed up in the New York Times […]

Newspapers, Food, & Churches: An interview with Ted Shockley, part 2 of 2

In the previous segment of this interview, I talked with Ted Shockley, publisher of Eastern Shore First, our new local paper, about his approach to his work and the way that the community is changing.  Ted has a preference for print (as opposed to online news) and I was particularly impressed with the way he […]

“Pessimism, Hopelessness & Doom” – Traveling the Virginia Extremes with August Wallmeyer

  August Wallmeyer paints a distressing picture of rural Virginia in the 21st century.  His little book, The Extremes of Virginia, which highlights the realities and common challenges of three regions of the Commonwealth—Southwest, Southside, and the Eastern Shore—gets your attention quickly.  You start to see why he calls the regions “the Extremes,” and it isn’t just because […]