This week’s installment of Whatcha reading? features the theme of place. Both books are inexorably tied up with the idea of location.
Fiction: Jonathan Franzen, The Corrections. One of the most well-received works of the early 21st century, this work examines the Lambert family (elderly parents Al and Enid, grown children Gary, Chip and Denise) and Enid’s attempt to get the entire family back to the Midwestern city of St. Jude for one last Christmas before Al’s medical condition deteriorates further. Each of the three children has fled St. Jude for various reasons, and no one feels particularly compelled to return unless absolutely necessary. I can see why this book has been so positively reviewed – it’s a heckuva good book.
Nonfiction: Fred Hobson, The Southern Writer in the Postmodern World. These are adaptations of Hobson’s Lamar Memorial Lectures at Mercer University (just down the road in Macon, GA). Hobson takes up the discussion of Southern literature post-Faulkner with analyses of Bobbie Ann Mason, Ernest Gaines, Richard Ford and many others. Among his more interesting conclusions: The most likely heir to the Southern Agrarians – many of whom were not just pro-segregation but avowedly racist – is the African-American author Ernest Gaines. If you’re interested in Southern literature, I highly recommend it.