Margaret Eby explores the hometowns and stomping grounds of 10 Southern authors in her literary travelogue, South Toward Home.
In Paradise of the Pacific, Susanna Moore sees the history of the Hawaiian Islands as “a story of arrivals,” one that encompasses not only flora and fauna blown by the winds but early Polynesian travelers, explorers, missionaries and whalers.
Wait, we need a Brooklyn-based writer to guide us through the swamps, thickets and kudzu of Southern literary haunts? Not to worry—Margaret Eby may live in the borough, but she grew up in Alabama and is on familiar turf in South Toward Home, a highly readable literary tour of the region that gave us Faulkner, O’Connor and Lee (Harper, not Robert E.).
Call it the male answer to Eat, Pray, Love.
James Joyce once wished for an “ideal reader with an ideal case of insomnia”; a reader of Joyce Carol Oates similarly needs an ideal insomnia to plow through the 50-plus novels of this legendarily prolific writer. As it turns out, Oates herself suffers from insomnia, and has since she was a girl, using her night hours productively and well. Her new book, The Lost Landscape: A Writer’s Coming of Age, offers an exquisitely rendered glimpse of her own childhood in rural upstate New York.
Stuart Stevens grew up going to Ole Miss games with his father. In 1962, in the midst of tumultuous battles over civil rights on campus, Stevens and his father cheered the Rebels to a perfect season and a national championship. More than 50 years later, having just finished leading an exhausting and unsuccessful presidential campaign for Mitt Romney, Stevens “wakes up” and realizes that what he wants most in the world is one more season, “with my father and football and the Ole Miss Rebels.”
Negroland is not a geographic locale. It’s the name Margo Jefferson gives to the place, time and circumstances of her upbringing in the upper echelons of black society. Her memoir, which reads with the blast force of a prose poem, looks back with love and no small amount of anger at a life spent navigating the freedoms of class while flirting with, and occasionally skirting, the imposed limits of race.
It is arguably America’s most famous and favorite poem. But do we really know what Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” is about? Not so much, says David Orr.
No one writes about history like Judith Flanders. Reading her work (The Victorian City, Inside the Victorian Home) is like going back in time with an expert guide at your side. In her new book, The Making of Home, Flanders ventures beyond one city or time period to explore the political, religious, economic and social factors that led to the notions of home that still influence us today.
A beloved true story of adventure, a harrowing story of underground survival and an artfully woven historical make for great group discussion this month.