It is around 7:45 A.M. at Fiery Fungi Organic Mushroom Farm. We are twenty minutes from Winchester (Kevin’s hometown) and directly below the mountain from The University of the South in Sewanee, where Kevin instructs in the English Department. We’re sitting down with five cats to discuss his upcoming novel, gender, and the particulars of growing up in a rural area.
We become who we become for reasons we cannot always know—because of what we saw our mothers love, or our fathers hate, and because of what we need deep down inside the parts of us that others don't know about, such as love, or security, or adoration.
When the American South searches its memory—and its institutional memory is powerful, to judge from prejudices and resentments with virtually prehistoric antecedents—it invariably revisits two great enemies who tower above the rest. It’s the Union General William Tecumseh Sherman and the Baltimore polemicist Henry Louis Mencken who provoke the most passionate curses from Confederate descendants with long memories.
It was Meridian, Mississippi, the summer of 1976. Preacher Killen was nine years past his federal conspiracy trial in the 1964 murders of three civil rights workers in nearby Philadelphia, twelve years from the actual murders, and in 1976 that seemed like a long time, though I realize now it wasn’t and that choosing to interview him in my motel room was not the smartest thing I have ever done.
A black bear brought his cubs to his alma mater for a home game, and the cool autumn day was a tonic to his soul, despite the fact that a drunken, redneck ferret a few rows up kept screaming obscenities throughout the game, making remarks about the coach and the coach's female relatives that could not be repeated in the presence of a minister.