Tag: Midwest

  • 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 […]

  • The Red State Christians You Don’t Know: A Review of Angela Denker’s New Book

    The Red State Christians You Don’t Know: A Review of Angela Denker’s New Book

    It wasn’t your typical megachurch experience. When journalist and Lutheran pastor Angela Denker showed up at New Destiny Christian Center to check out the ministry of Paula White, one of Donald Trump’s pastoral advisors, she might have expected a coffee shop in the lobby (she kinda did) and a glitzy auditorium for a sanctuary. Instead […]

  • How I Lost My Way to the Heart of America

    How I Lost My Way to the Heart of America

    There are at least two ways to look at a concept like The Heartland. You could look at it as a search for meaning, in which uprooted, sometimes traumatized people, seek to understand their lives in relation to a place. It’s in this sense that the great Southern writer Carson McCullers talked about American homesickness. […]

  • Little Houses and Big Truths on the Prairie: Caroline Fraser’s Laura Ingalls Wilder

    Little Houses and Big Truths on the Prairie: Caroline Fraser’s Laura Ingalls Wilder

    It takes a lot of work to uncover what really happened to the vast prairies of the North American Midwest.  You have to dig under Frederick Jackson Turner’s famous 1890 declaration that the frontier had made America what it was and now it was gone.  Pioneer famers, Turner said, had busted sod, felled forests, and […]

  • Normal is How America Got This Way: A Review of The View from Flyover Country

    Normal is How America Got This Way: A Review of The View from Flyover Country

    “The absence of complaining should be taken as a sign that something is rotting in a society,” Sarah Kendzior says.  “Complaining is beautiful.  Complaining should be encouraged.  Complaining means you have a chance.” (225) Sometimes it takes a critic to get things to change, and Kendzior is such a critic.  Her book, The View from […]

  • Post-election Reading – my interview with Mark Athitakis concludes – part 3

    Post-election Reading – my interview with Mark Athitakis concludes – part 3

    I discovered Mark Athitakis and his new book, The New Midwest: A Guide to Contemporary Fiction of the Great Lakes, Great Plains, and Rust Belt, in an article on The Huffington Post where Mark was interviewed.  Then I thought, if HufPo can do it, why can’t I?  So, I contacted Mark and well, here we are. Mark’s field is […]

  • Keeping the Midwest Weird: My interview with Mark Athitakis continues – part 2

    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 […]

  • Why we’ve got to get Willa out of the cornfield – an interview with Mark Athitakis (part 1)

    Why we’ve got to get Willa out of the cornfield – an interview with Mark Athitakis (part 1)

    Mark Athitakis is one of those people who resists the impulse to reduce things to stereotype, which is one of the guiding values of this blog.  Athitakis’s field of inquiry is Midwestern fiction and he has written on books for a number of publications including The New York Times, Washington Post, and Belt Magazine, which […]

  • Why Iowa isn’t Heaven

    Where else would Ray Kinsella have built his Field of Dreams except in an Iowa cornfield?  Am I right?  A baseball diamond where the ghosts of the past could come for healing and restoration – for their own and for the living?  Had to be in the heartland, where the solid goodness of America is […]