Can Anyone Find Home in North Carolina?: A Review of The Barrowfields by Phillip Lewis

‘The intellect when it really tries can for a time replace the sun though it won’t ripen strawberries.’ —Anna Kamieńska, ‘Classicism’ It is often the curse of those who return to their small town homes after education afar that they feel an alienation from the people and customs that formed them.  Not that Henry Aster […]

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 […]

Heartlands Best Reads of 2017: #6 Sing, Unburied, Sing

Mississippi has many layers.  William Faulkner knew this and crafted his intricate tales of Yoknapatawpha County with characters haunted by the past, spurred by subterranean passions, and trapped in violent, tragic relationships.  Jesmyn Ward claims Faulkner as an literary influence and it shows in her rich novels of Bois Sauvage, like Yoknapatawpha, a fictional rendering […]

A Tear for Bois Sauvage: A Review of Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

It’s not often that the ending of a book makes me moist-eyed.  And I can’t ever recall when the acknowledgements did that.  But there it was in the final sentences on page 289 of Sing, Unburied, Sing, the 2017 National Book Award-winning novel by Jesmyn Ward:  “In closing, I’d like to thank everyone in my […]

Free to Use Dangling Participles: The Heartlands Interview with Katherine James, 2 of 3

Let’s not put Katherine James’s debut novel, Can You See Anything Now?, (recently reviewed here on Heartlands), into a box called Christian fiction.  She is a Christian and there are strong Christian themes in the book, but this is not an Amish romance.  James tackles difficult themes like suicide, cutting, and substance abuse with vivid, […]