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 […]

Heartlands Best Reads of 2017:#1 Lincoln in the Bardo (& a recap)

There are certain things you know you’re going to find when you sit down to read a George Saunders story.  It will be weird, funny, engaging, and surprisingly deep.  I expected no less from Lincoln in the Bardo, Saunders’ first novel and I was not disappointed. The book, which won the Man Booker Prize this year, […]

Heartlands Best Reads of 2017: #10 Strangers In Their Own Land

It’s been a great year for reading.  I credit Sarah Willson Craig for inviting me into a real mid-life reading renaissance.  She’s the one who posted the Better World Reading Challenge on Facebook in 2016 and got a group of friends committed.  I’m grateful. Since everyone else is doing their end-of-the-year list, I decided to […]

James Baldwin’s Moment and the Danger of Racial Innocence

James Baldwin is having a moment, 30 years after his death.  First, Ta-Nehasi Coates’ Between the World and Me, a book that drew its inspiration from Baldwin’s 1963 book The Fire Next Time, topped The New York Times’ bestsellers list.  Then, a documentary about Baldwin, I Am Not Your Negro, was nominated for an Academy […]