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.”

May 18, 2016

Ethnic insights do not always weather storms, particularly if one, black or not, is too committed to common cloudbursts: they can slowly evolve into an aesthetic version of sleeping sickness. Tarantino surprises us again because his Django Unchained is one of the worst versions of Blaxploitation ever seen.

March 14, 2017

An installment in Chris Offutt’s Omnivore column, Cooking with Chris. 

Conventional thought says that if you want to learn about a foreign culture, you should eat their food, but that’s like saying you could learn about police work by watching Blue Bloods. If you come to my house and dine on an Appalachian delicacy such as squirrel brains, possum stew, or dandelions, you will never know what it’s like to grow up isolated in the woods. To pretend otherwise is a fantasy.

September 05, 2017

Trying to achieve black selfhood in Little Rock 

The erasure of pre-integration black community also means the loss of artifacts of black joy. Those artifacts, mementos of those places, seem harder to find today, scrubbed from memory, or crowded out by the drama of police dogs and fire hoses. Whenever I catch the stories of early classes from Little Rock’s black high schools—Dunbar, or Horace Mann—the joy such stories bring to the faces of their alums feels out of time with the Little Rock I imagine preceding 1957.



September 04, 2018

An installment of Chris Offutt’s Omnivore column, Cooking with Chris. 

Big Bad Breakfast’s official slogan is “Lard have Mercy,” and I own one of their souvenir t-shirts. Recently I began to consider the words more carefully. Could it be sacrilegious? How does the Lord feel about lard? Would God be annoyed that his power of mercy is used to peddle apparel? No, I concluded. The phrase is intended as funny, and one thing is certain: God has a sense of humor. Otherwise, where did ours come from?

 

September 05, 2017

An installment in Chris Offutt’s Omnivore column, Cooking with Chris. 

Nothing is as powerful as the extraordinary jolt of a teenager’s first love. It’s like seeing the world after a double-cataract surgery. Life is suddenly exquisite. Each leaf becomes the bearer of unbearable beauty. Romeo and Juliet were so deliriously happy that they embraced murder and suicide as an ideal solution. I didn’t go that far, but I fell deeply and totally in love with Kim.

April 05, 2016

An installment in Chris Offutt's Omnivore column, Cooking with Chris. 

Every family has legends of lost fortune and glory, particularly in the South where we keep our history close, and our enemies in sight. 

June 11, 2019

Mike Frolich’s artistic legacy in the Saturn Bar

One of my many justifications for keeping the devil was Frolich’s claim that his paintings were created in part for the children of the Ninth Ward, more of whom run through our house than the Saturn Bar. Kids need a relationship with their devils as much as adults do. Instead of renouncing or banishing them, children should know their features and particular hues, their habitats and gestures. Keeping them in steady sight, they’re easier to manage.

 

June 11, 2019

Zora Neale Hurston’s lessons in writing a love story

At one point, sitting in the Beinecke Library, I closed my eyes and let my fingers fall on random sentences of Hurston’s masterwork. Word for word, sentence for sentence, Their Eyes Were Watching God was damn near flawless. 

 

March 13, 2018

An installment in Chris Offutt’s Omnivore column, Cooking with Chris. 

According to the exuberant advertising, my Echo was in full possession of sixty thousand recipes, which is why it’s worth writing about in a “food essay.” I have a very large collection of community cookbooks—three shelves’ worth, totaling seventy-five inches. My wife has another forty cookbooks, all much taller and thicker than mine. Still, we didn’t have sixty thousand recipes between us. Then again, who the Sam Hill needs that many?