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.

May 31, 2018

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

For me, toothpicks—like Zippo lighters and typewriters and vinyl records—have always signified classic coolness. My grandfather, a Brooklyn car mechanic and TV fix-it guy, chewed them compulsively and I fell in love with toothpicks because of him.

July 19, 2018

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

Even when Ridley pans a movie, he does it with heart. His takedown of Luc Besson’s The Messenger is written as “a short story that imagines a film executive in purgatory summoning Carl Theodore Dreyer [director of the ethereal and perfect The Passion of Joan of Arc] to his office.” Haruch says this is “a doff of the cap, of sorts, to Godard’s notion that one should make a movie to criticize a movie.”

December 20, 2018

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

The Jim Ridley line that I wrote about in a previous column, his beautiful notion that “you can find your voice by loving things”—that’s absolutely true. What’s also true is that you can build your history by loving things.

September 06, 2018

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

I felt many days like I was no one and like nothing mattered and that I couldn’t write myself out of it. I wanted to be someone or something that I couldn’t be. Now I was a guy from Brooklyn in Mississippi. When I sat down to write Gravesend, all of that came into play. I thought of the way we bring the place we’re from with us, no matter where we are. I could’ve called the book Gravesend and not had a single scene set in my neighborhood. I carried the streets with me.

April 12, 2018

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

For me, obsession with art is also about survival. I’m after the next thing, the next moment that will give shape or purpose to existence. It’s always been important for me to fill my days like this, to give definition to who I am and who I will be by engulfing myself in what I’m watching and listening to and reading. Getting lost in art that moves me just makes things make sense.

June 12, 2015

In the middle of downtown Jackson stands a triangle of statues carved in rough-hewn stone, their backs to each other, facing out toward the city: William Faulkner, Richard Wright, Eudora Welty. But Faulkner doesn’t belong, and in his place should be Margaret Walker. Wright, Welty, Walker: those are our Jacksonians, the old guard, the outsiders of gender and race and class whose stony shoulders we stand upon.

September 29, 2015

Maude Schuyler Clay is known for her work depicting the Mississippi Delta, but she is also a talented portrait photographer. Inspired by Lee Friedlander, Garry Winogrand, and Diane Arbus, Clay seeks to make photographs that emulate, in color, the craft and subtlety these artists cultivated in black and white.

September 29, 2013

The photographs in Betty Press’s series Mississippi: The Place I Live  showcase the work she’s made in the Southern state. Her images capture, with sensitivity and gravity, the beauty, history, and humanity of the region.

September 16, 2013

Kevin Curtis lowers his sunglasses and scans the crowd. He’s just finished performing “Folsom Prison Blues” at the Lamar Lounge in Oxford, Mississippi. The audience applauds, but the mood is strange—genuine enthusiasm, curiosity, an undercurrent of discomfort. During one of the choruses, he swayed with a very supportive, very drunk woman from the front row. For the solo, he strummed a tiny guitar pin stuck on his dress coat lapel. I lift my beer toward him from the second row. He notices, raises an eyebrow, nods. “This is the first show since my”—he pauses, presses the sunglasses back up to his eyes—“incarceration.”