Author Archive

A Small-Town Coming Out in an Online World

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The Lost Prayers of Ricky Graves starts, like many books set in a small town, with a homecoming.

Jesmyn Ward’s Southern Roots

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History overlaps with, influences, and outright intrudes on the present, and in Ward’s fictional world that happens metaphorically, mentally, and then literally through visions and ghosts.

Unripe Fruit in Rural Poland

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Through it all, Wiola is a clear-eyed tour guide narrator, blasting the reader with the harsh reality of her bildungsroman while simultaneously giving a close-up view of the isolated world she was born into.

The Middle of Nowhere in a Comic Pane

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Self-hatred, alcoholism, small-town deprecation. Roughneck hits all the rural notes. When a character has a run-in with Oxycontin, the reaction is to immediately blame it on outsiders. “All the kids are getting it from down South,” someone says.

The Linked Stories and Linked Lives of Elizabeth Strout

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Why are rural communities so often the target of linked story collections?

Small-Town Life: Polish Edition

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It’s obvious on the page that Springer has fallen in love with the town, with its story. Some chapters read like a brochure for a place that no longer exists.

Rural Pride in the Walleye Capital of the World: Emily Fridlund’s HISTORY OF WOLVES

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Loose River is a town where the two key descriptions of Christmastime are “competing nativity scenes” and the “strings of colored lights up and down Main Street.” Linda, the protagonist, thinks in terms of natural geography: her friend lives “in a trailer three lakes over.”

Blood at the Root of a Rural Georgia County

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Patrick Phillips is the author of Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America. Published last September, the book chronicles the racial history of Forsyth County, Georgia, going back to the Civil War and ending with it being fully cemented as an Atlanta suburb today.

The Push and Pull of the Small Town in The Annie Year

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So what's inside the fortified small town of The Annie Year? The intimacy of a man "unbuttoning his pants to make room for the prime rib to move through his system" at a diner booth.

Past the City Limit Sign: The Role of Rural in 2016 Books

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What kinds of stories will emerge that focus on rural or city settings during a Trump presidency? Will the typical themes continue to be cemented or will variations become the norm?