Tag: rural America

  • 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 […]

  • Returning to Dakota

    Returning to Dakota

    “As when I was a child, I want to remain in the open, becoming something other than human under the sky. (178)” –Kathleen Norris, Dakota Returning to Kathleen Norris’s Dakota: A Spiritual Geography almost three decades after it was written, I tried to decide what made it so powerful for me when I was a […]

  • Seeing the Way to ‘You Can,’ When the World Says ‘You Can’t’

    Seeing the Way to ‘You Can,’ When the World Says ‘You Can’t’

    What if your job was to go around blessing people? What if, instead of lamenting all that is wrong, you got to say, “There is something terribly, terribly, right with the world”? And what if you got to say this thing in the very places that get written off as ‘God-forsaken’? Michael Mather has such […]

  • Pulling Back the Veil in the Vale of Opioids: Beth Macy’s Dopesick

    Pulling Back the Veil in the Vale of Opioids: Beth Macy’s Dopesick

    Three months into our current pandemic we know the scenario. “Epidemics unfold ‘like a vector phenomenon, where you have one individual who seeds that community and then the spread begins.’”(127)  Dr. Anna Lembke could have been talking about COVID-19, but the Stanford specialist in addiction medicine was talking about opioids and ace Virginia reporter Beth […]

  • Long Loves in a Small Coastal Town: A Review of In West Mills

    Long Loves in a Small Coastal Town: A Review of In West Mills

    De’Shawn Charles Winslow’s debut novel begins with an arresting scene. Pratt Shepherd is in the middle of a fight with his free-spirited girlfriend in a small, coastal North Carolina town on the eve of World War 2. However, Azalea ‘Knot’ Centre, a sometime teacher at the local school for African-American children, is nobody’s possession. When […]

  • Good God, What Happened to the Heartland?: Laughing and Lamenting with Lyz Lenz

    Good God, What Happened to the Heartland?: Laughing and Lamenting with Lyz Lenz

    Lyz Lenz is so funny sometimes that you can forget that she has written a hard book. As, for instance, when she’s surveying the physical layout of cookie-cutter megachurches and says that “the decor looks like a Hobby Lobby vomited all over the place.” (115) That’s the vibrant Lyz that you want giving you the […]

  • 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. […]

  • God is in the Countryside (and Country Churches)

    God is in the Countryside (and Country Churches)

    Maybe it’s because I’m getting ready to do a workshop on storytelling this weekend, but I’ve been thinking about the parables of Jesus. The Nazarene had a way of incorporating the stuff of the world around him into his messages. Farmers and seeds, shepherds and sheep, tenants and landowners—these were things Jesus’ listeners knew about. […]

  • Why Don’t Country People Just Get Out? – Episode 3

    Why Don’t Country People Just Get Out? – Episode 3

    It’s happened again. Writers in The New York Times are once again wondering aloud if country people shouldn’t just give up and move to the city to deal with problems of economic insecurity. Which means, it’s time for another episode of “Why Don’t Country People Just Get Out?” In an article titled “The Hard Truth […]

  • #6 Heartlands Best Reads of 2018: Heartland

    #6 Heartlands Best Reads of 2018: Heartland

    Yes, Sarah Smarsh was clearly making a shameless bid for a Top Ten spot on the Heartlands list with the title of her memoir: Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth. But the editorial staff here at Heartlands can’t be won over by gimmicks. It takes good writing to […]