By early summer, Houston is so muggy that all the edges blur. Temperatures slink into the low 90s and stay there. In certain neighborhoods, the smell of weed lingers, lending the air a permanent tang. Slabs, creeping slowly down the street, broadcast a sound indigenous to the city, a sluggish hazy rhythm that couldn’t have been born in any other town.
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.
"All through elementary school I showed a keen interest in writing, which I did by hand, with a pencil and paper, which I then folded and handed to girls in my class, in hopes that they would bear my children. That taught me a valuable lesson for a young writer, which is that sometimes people who read your work will want to bear your children, so it's always good to carry protection, by which I mean a weapon."
"Sherman burned his path through the South with bullets and torches. Fifty years later, the acerbic Mencken burned a wider path through its ego, through the fragile self-respect that the South had rebuilt during the painful passages of Reconstruction. Mencken, the legendary cultural arsonist, set his fires with words only, but with language so barbed and contemptuous, so marinated in disdain that it may have left deeper scars than Sherman’s regiments."
A native of Blanchard, Louisiana, Cody Cobb takes us west, towards the Ark-La-Tex region. Cody says, "These scenes were discovered while exploring dirt roads, abandonments, swamps, and pine forests of northwest Louisiana, east Texas, and south Arkansas."
Cooking with Chris. The author lays out his imaginary career as a spy in another hilarious essay, comparing the "Stories and Recipes From CIA Families All Over the World" and the "Cherokee Club Cookbook." As he says, these texts were literally meant for him to find.
For more than two decades, Terri Garland has explored the many ways in which class and racial discrimination are woven into our national cultural fabric. This photo essay shows how these systems are directly contributing to the disintegration of the Louisiana coastline.
"This collection represents a small sample of the people and places I've discovered during my weekly photo walks in North Carolina. I dedicate time each week to capturing visual moments and documenting their place in history. I am fascinated by the connection between human influence on nature and the way time serves as a transformative agent."
In the summer of 1976, Patsy Sims traveled to Mississippi to interview Preacher Edgar Ray Killen about his role—then only suspected—as the organizer of the killing party of three civil rights workers (Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman). She believed him to be a leader in the White Knights of Mississippi, an especially virulent chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. For the interview they sat alone in a motel room in Meridian, Mississippi, where she asked him, point blank, if he’d ever killed anyone.
The picturesque, pastoral scenes of a bountiful Dixie harshly juxtapose against the grotesque, historical realities of the region: slavery, racism, sexism, and exploitation. And according to UNC professor and author Marcie Cohen Ferris, nowhere is this notion more acute than at the Southern table.
A poem from our summer 2013 issue.
is what she said, but what mattered was the tone—
not a drive-by spondee and never the fricative
connotation as verb, but from her mouth
voweled, often preceeded by well, with the “u” low
as if dipping up homemade ice cream, waiting to be served
last so that she’d scoop from the bottom
where all the good stuff had settled down.