For generations, my mother’s family were bootleggers all the way down to my great grandfather, a grizzled, old man with a withered arm who constantly chewed tobacco and who was always licking the little reservoirs of brown tobacco juice that gathered at the corners of his mouth. Despite his appearance,Continue Reading

Christmas Eve 2018 A clock tick away from thirty my grandson lowers onto a chair beside me where we stare at the curious chiaroscuro of Christmas lights blinking in a pattern as undetectable as the reasons for his diagnosis. He sips air with the feeblest exertion of swamp-diseased lungs. SomeContinue Reading

Just once I’d like to hear a criminal invoke something besides the “withem” defense, an accused’s way of explaining that he didn’t actually commit a crime but was in the vicinity of those who did and was technically “with ‘em.” I also wish it was illegal for a client toContinue Reading

Chris Offutt is a Kentucky novelist who lives in Oxford, Mississippi, while teaching in the English department at Ole Miss. He is arguably best known for his memoir, My Father, the Pornographer (Simon and Schuster, 2015). Offutt describes how his father and mother collaborated in writing pornography in order toContinue Reading

Before global warming and ominous signs that Earth will eventually combust in an end-time fireball, the American South satisfied all the requirements of heat demanded by hell. The way weather affects the region’s inhabitants has been a subject of discussion for centuries. In the 1800s, visitors from the North andContinue Reading

In the year 2000, my sons Erik and Gabriel and I set out to create a video documentary of the people living in Free Hills, one of America’s last remaining Black settlements established before the Civil War. Located in hardscrabble Clay County, Tennessee, near the community of Celina, the FreeContinue Reading

White trash have been with us since colonial times – though they often went by other names. That’s the contention of historian Nancy Isenberg in White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America. Isenberg also destroys assumptions about America’s allegedly class-free society in which all one needed wereContinue Reading

Archetypes are essential to a deeper understanding and appreciation of film and literature. Popularized by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung in the early 20th century, the word archetype is defined as a recurring symbol or motif found in traditional storytelling. This definition particularly refers to the recurrence of characters and plotsContinue Reading

People wondering what all the fuss is about concerning J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy and Ron Howard’s screen adaptation of the book will find answers to that query in Appalachian Reckoning: A Region Responds to Hillbilly Elegy, a series of essays by diverse voices about a variety of topics bringing AppalachiaContinue Reading