by Jim Dees – If there are two subjects that pique the southern reader, it’s dogs and the Civil War. This week on The Thacker Mountain Radio Hour, our authors address both of these oft-covered topics in entirely inventive and surprising ways.
Acclaimed poet Eileen Myles (pictured with unknown fur friend) has stepped out of poetry to write Afterglow – a dog memoir. The book covers the 16 years that Myles spent with Rosie, an adopted pit bull. But this ain’t Marley and Me. This book brilliantly weaves darkness with lighter moments; poetry with elements of screenplay, monologue, and science fiction – even “dog ghostwriting.” The story covers Myles’s issues of alcoholism and recovery, family grief, intimacy and spirituality. It is that rare book that is funny and profound.
Daren Wang is known as the force behind the popular Decatur Book Festival near Atlanta but has now busted out with his first novel, The Hidden Light of Northern Fires. The book explores a forbidden relationship between an escaped slave, Joe Bell, and outspoken abolitionist, Mary Willis. (“Mary Willis,” our friend Karen Abbott writes, “makes Scarlett O’ Hara sound like a whiny brat.”) The book also delves into a little-discussed aspect of the Civil War, the secession from the Union by a hamlet in upstate New York, Town Line, at the top end of the Underground Railroad.
In presenting “old” subjects in new ways, Myles and Wang transcend writing and become artists. They take our ancient love of dogs or fear of war, and change our long-ingrained assumptions with fresh perspective and renewed wonder. That is truly what only our best writers accomplish. We look forward to welcoming them both.
We’ll wash it all down with some tunes from two songwriters who are making their mark: Mark Edgar Stuart and Crystal Yates. Stuart has an Memphis Flyer “Album of the Year” under his belt (“Blues for Lou” in 2013). Yates won the prestigious Texaco Country Showdown in January at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.
Should be a good one so swing by or tune in (92.1 FM in Oxford) or (http://myrebelradio.com/) and while we’re at it, maybe think about adopting a pet.
As this week’s authors and songwriters so eloquently illuminate, there’s always room for love.