Looking In on Lookout Mountain: A Review of I Want to Show You More

There’s a lot going on up on Lookout Mountain.  The battle of Chickamauga is not really over.  89-year-old Eva Bock braves traffic to walk up Lula Lake Road to deliver snail mail to President Bush protesting the war.  A mainline church takes Corbett Earnshaw’s abrupt confession of disbelief as a sign and demolishes their building […]

Crossing into Mythical Mexico with Cormac McCarthy: A Review of The Crossing

Cormac McCarthy doesn’t need any more accolades from the likes of me.  His reputation as a great American writer seems pretty secure.  But as a recent convert to the ranks of his fans, I have to say of The Crossing – wow. That’s probably sufficient.  I’m not going to be an equal to his prose […]

Freaks & Monsters – Being an Artist in the South – My interview with Nick Norwood concludes – Part 3 of 3

Nick Norwood, director of the Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians at Columbus State University, is also a great poet.   Like McCullers, he writes about what he knows – the American South and its eccentricities.  In previous segments of this essay we talked about the universal themes in McCullers’ work and her sense […]

Crossing the Great Divide: An Interview with Arlie Russell Hochschild – part 1 of 3

Can a Berkley sociologist and a Louisiana oil patch Tea Party member find common ground?  That was the experiment Arlie Russell Hochschild (the sociologist) undertook when she found she was having a hard time understanding the forces that were shaping Red States.   When I wrote a review of her book about the project, Strangers […]

Back to the Cross: The Inclusive Vision of Fleming Rutledge

  If the theology podcast Crackers & Grape Juice has any redeeming value*, (and Lord knows they have interviewed some questionable characters in their brief existence—primary evidence: their January interview with me!), it is the recurring “Fridays with Fleming” segments that have introduced the Episcopal priest and theologian, Fleming Rutledge, to a wider audience.  With […]

The Weird & Beautiful Vision of George Saunders: A Review of Lincoln in the Bardo

  You would not think that a full-scale recapitulation of Ecclesiastes would make a great bestseller.  Vanity, vanity, all is vanity!  This human thing is an exercise of unknowing.  I know that there is nothing better than that they should eat, drink, and experience pleasure in their hard work.  This is the philosophy of the […]

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 […]

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 […]