October 16, 2018

The stark and vulnerable images in Byan Schutmaat’s project, Good Goddamn, follow his close friend, Kris, in the final evenings leading up to a five-year prison sentence.

September 04, 2018

Sarah Winchester and the legacy of living with guns 

It’s difficult to understate how the repeating rifle revolutionized killing, of both animals and man, as it brought the world from the single-shot muzzle-loaded rifle to a gun that could hold multiple cartridges and fire two shots per second. It’s the “gun that won the West.”

September 04, 2018

A Points South story from the Fall 2018 issue

“I just have this fear every day that somewhere there’s another load going to the landfill of the only known copy of something that helped change American music,” Darden told me. So he started the Restoration Project, which aims to “collect, digitize, and archive” all of the recordings available from “gospel’s golden age,” roughly 1945–1975. Because there is no reliable discography of extant gospel recordings (creating one is another ambition of Darden’s), Darden and other scholars have trouble even estimating how many songs that may turn out to be.

August 21, 2018

A dialogue between Sarah Viren and Clinton Crockett Peters

I’ve always been drawn to the misfits because they’re not beautiful, because they’re stinky, because people kind of hate them and dislike them. Essays seem perfect for this subject matter because they are so amorphous, and there’s a long essay tradition of cataloging the weird, going back to Montaigne and cannibals and Sei Shōnagon and “Hateful Things.”

July 17, 2018

Elijah Barrett’s collection, Rockport, chronicles the weeks and months following the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. His photographs reveal the devastation enacted upon the landscape, and give insight into the lives of those who are now suspended in a state of wondering what comes next, and who are left to make sense of what happened.

June 12, 2018

A Southern Journey from the Summer 2018 issue. 

I am again driving through the moon-flecked summer night, the hot dead bugs against my windshield summer night, the benzene-sulfur-streaked chemical stacks streaming into the gleaming Gulf summer night. It is so damn hot down here, so sultry, but I don’t want to turn the air-conditioning on in my little red fuel-efficient rental vehicle; I want to breathe in the heat, bathe in the heat, dance with it! And I happen to find a watering hole where I can do just that, in the belly of the belly of the belly of the beast. The Neon Moon Saloon, a cement-floor biker bar in industrial Houston. There’s a lively game at the billiard table, rough red-faced men at the wooden bar, a glowing neon cabinet of booze. It is an end-of-the-world type of place, and this is the end of the world.

June 12, 2018

A Southern Journey from the Summer 2018 issue. 

Even though I knew it was only temporary, I found riding the Tornado a profoundly lonely experience. For many of those around me, the journey was more permanent, one after which they would emerge into a future of perpetual outsider status, in communities where they would likely be subject to wage theft, housing discrimination, dirty looks for speaking their own language, and racial profiling by police regardless of whether they were documented or not. If they weren’t, they could be uprooted again at a moment’s notice. 

June 12, 2018

A Southern Journey from the Summer 2018 issue. 

I’d often thought of going to Cuba, but in the summer of 2017 I was nearing the end of the first draft of the novel, and it became clear I needed to visit the island for research, to see Nicaro for myself. And, though I told no one, I began to dream of the events that might lead to my family’s reconciliation, a fantasy in which I was the hero.

February 22, 2018

An installment in our weekly series, The By and By. 

Songs: Ohia is the name under which musician Jason Molina—Ohio-born and bred, with deep West Virginia roots—performed and released his first records. Didn’t It Rain was his sixth studio album but my first exposure to him. It’s an album that I folded into immediately, that buckled my blood. I’d never heard something that sounded exactly like how I felt.

October 12, 2017

An installment in our weekly series, The By and By. 

If you are unfamiliar with Texan Kevin Russell, the singer/songwriter and guitar, mandolin, and ukulele player who lately goes by the nom de pluck Shinyribs, as does his brilliant funking, picking, and punking band, it is totally misleading for me to introduce you, as I just did, as if he were a man of constant sorrow. In fact, Russell—clad in his pistachio green, or orange plaid, or lip-blotting pink/red booty-shaking suit, and backed by a core of ticking, riffing sidemen, the Tijuana Trainwreck Horns, and the Shiny Soul Sisters—leads one of the finest party bands around and, when called for, a heckuva crowd rousing conga line.