Thursday, January 31, 2008

Review: Ron Rash

The World Made Straight
; by Ron Rash, published 2006

Seventeen-year-old Travis Shelton thinks he's struck it rich when he discovers a hoard of marijuana hidden deep in the woods of Madison County, North Carolina. But the plants belong to Carlton Toomey, alternate farmer and community drug dealer, who gets vicious when people mess with his stash... Rejected by his strict father, Travis moves in with an ex-history professor and drug dealer, who begins teaching Travis about the history of Madison County, the Civil War, and Travis's own ancestors who were killed in the Shelton Massacre of 1863.

Ron Rash intertwines suspense, history, and poetic writing in this powerful novel. He's a master of description, and every tobacco leaf and speckled trout is as vivid as a memory. Rash refuses to sugar-coat the South, creating realistic, believable characters who you root for until the very end.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

New Orleans Writing Marathon

Started by the Southeastern Louisiana Writing Project back in 1994, the New Orleans Writing Marathon draws on ideas from Natalie Goldberg's book Writing Down the Bones. Groups of writers split up and go off on their own, writing down observations and thoughts, and later the groups get back together and share their work, without comment or criticisms. It sounds like a great idea to do anywhere, on a smaller scale, just to get ideas flowing...

This article gives a good overview:

Thursday, January 17, 2008

"Southern" writer Kelly Cherry

I had never heard of Kelly Cherry until I read an article about her in Nantahala, a journal I just found browsing online. (This looks like a good journal, by the way, focusing on writers/readers in the Appalachian region. The "Fiction" page wasn't working on my computer, but the other links were.)

Apparently, I should read some of Cherry's work because she sounds pretty good--is a fiction writer, poet, and essayist and has won the Pushcart Prize, the National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, and the PEN/Syndicated Fiction Award. She was born in Louisiana and got her M.F.A. at UNC-Greensboro.

Here's an interview where she talks briefly about being a Southern writer:

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

January birthdays...Carl Sandburg

Born January 6, 1878, Galesburg, Illinois

Although not traditionally "Southern," Carl Sandburg spent the last 22 years of his life at his home in Flat Rock, North Carolina. It's worthwhile to visit his estate, Connemara, where you can see his collection of 10,000 books, notes, and papers and the goats, descended from his wife's prize-winning brood! I visited the house years ago, and I remember the homey feel of the home, the messiness of parts of it, papers strewn around, almost as if the writer would come back at any minute...