I live in the southeastern part of North Carolina, in a county that went for Trump. I’m one of those people who shouldn’t have been surprised but was. I had to leave town the morning after the election and did not want to go. The night before, lying in bed, my wife had been crying. We had the TV on, and she burst into tears when it became clear what was happening. When I left the house the next morning, my eleven-year-old daughter—for whom Hillary Clinton’s candidacy had been one of the more exciting and life-enlarging things she’d experienced—was crying her eyes out. I’ve noticed that the crying thing has already become a meme (“Pictures of people crying about Trump!”), and then a discredited meme (“Quit crying, liberals!”), by which talk we somehow moved in twenty-four hours past the reality that a good percentage of the country was openly weeping at the result of the election. Because, you know, that couldn’t mean anything. Read More
Congratulations to our Southern editor, John Jeremiah Sullivan, who’s been honored with the James Beard Foundation’s MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award for his essay “I Placed a Jar in Tennessee.”
The James Beard Foundation awards are presented “for excellence in cuisine, culinary writing, and culinary education.” “I Placed a Jar in Tennessee” appeared in the Winter 2013 issue of Lucky Peach; it tells the story of Kevin West, who has recently discovered, or perhaps rekindled, a family passion for home-preserving and pickling. If the title strikes you as familiar but unplaceable, fear not, for I have done your googling for you—it refers to Wallace Stevens’s famous poem “Anecdote of the Jar,” first published in 1919:
I placed a jar in Tennessee,
And round it was, upon a hill.
It made the slovenly wilderness
Surround that hill.
The wilderness rose up to it,
And sprawled around, no longer wild.
The jar was round upon the ground
And tall and of a port in air.
It took dominion every where.
The jar was gray and bare.
It did not give of bird or bush,
Like nothing else in Tennessee.
Mister Lytle” from our fall issue. Richly deserved, we say! An excerpt:Our Southern Editor, John Jeremiah Sullivan, has gone and won himself a Pushcart Prize with his essay “
There had been different boys living at Lytle’s since not long after he lost his wife, maybe before—in any case it was a recognized if unofficial institution when I entered the college at seventeen. In former days these were mainly students whose writing showed promise, as judged by a certain well-loved, prematurely white-haired literature professor, himself a former protégé and all but a son during Lytle’s long widowerhood. As years passed and Lytle declined, the arrangement came to be more about making sure someone was there all the time, someone to drive him and chop wood for him and hear him if he were to break a hip.
There were enough of us who saw it as a privilege, especially among the English majors. We were students at the University of the South, and Lytle was the South, the last Agrarian, the last of the famous “Twelve Southerners” behind I’ll Take My Stand, a comrade to the Fugitive Poets, a friend since youth of Allen Tate and Robert Penn Warren; a mentor to Flannery O’Connor and James Dickey and Harry Crews and, as the editor of The Sewanee Review in the sixties, one of the first to publish Cormac McCarthy’s fiction. Bear in mind that by the mid-nineties, when I knew him, the so-called Southern Renascence in letters had mostly dwindled to a tired professional regionalism. That Lytle hung on somehow, in however reduced a condition, represented a flaw in time, to be exploited.