Sean Dietrich has a story to tell and, boy, can he tell it. Dietrich is the host of the popular podcast, Sean of the South, his commentary on daily southern life. He’s also the author of nine books, none as personal, explosive and riveting as his latest, a memoir, Will The Circle Be Unbroken? (Zonderman). The book deals unflinchingly with the suicide of Dietrich’s father which happened after he kidnapped and assaulted Dietrich’s mother. Sean was 12 at the time.
Dietrich will join us on The Thacker Mountain Radio Hour this Thursday, March 5 at 6 pm at Off Square Books to share his story. The event is free and the public is invited. You can stream the show (live only) here.
“My idea with this book was to talk about the worst day of my life and try to find the nuggets of humor,” he says.
Thus, we get an unforgettable scene of young Sean at Pikes Peak in Colorado where the family drove to fulfill their father’s request to have his ashes spread over the mountain range.
“I found that crying at high altitude is a lot like being buried alive in snot,” he writes.
Later, at the funeral at his church’s fellowship hall, he notes, “Ladies catch up on gossip, whispering. Preachers engage in their only permissible vice, refined sugar.” When a well-meaning mourner arrives with tomato aspic, he demurs. “I’d rather lick a mule between the ears than eat tomato aspic.”
Eloquent examples of grace and redemption emerge in Dietrich’s telling, as well as the comforting rituals of his church: “In my family there was no real difference between fried chicken and religion.”
As an adult, a series of non-fulfilling manual labor jobs results in him starting a blog, “Even though a big city editor once remarked that ‘nobody wants to read stories that are about elderly people and happy things.’”
Dietrich lives in a rural compound in the Florida panhandle with his wife Jamie and their two dogs. His writing office on his property is a 1952 Yellowstone camper. His unique writing process is to write on an old typewriter then take a picture of the typed-out page with his phone using an app to capture the text. (Wait, wha?)
“It translates about 40% of everything into Mandarin,” he told an interviewer. “So I‘ve got to clean it up. I can produce triple the words than I could on a computer because I would get caught up in editing while I write which I find slows me down.”
It must work. Dietrich has published nine books to date including a novel, Stars Over Alabama, last year and this haunting memoir this year. In between are columns, blogs and personal appearances like his visit with us Thursday on our show.
Like I said, the man has a story to tell. Join us Thursday for this journey from the depths of despair to learning to believe you’re going to be okay – all with some nuggets of humor thrown in.
Tune in or turn out!
The Thacker Mountain Radio Hour is live on Thursday, March 5 at 6 pm at Off Square Books (129 Courthouse Square, Oxford, MS 38655). FREE admission. Doors: 5:30 pm.
Guests: Southern essayist Sean Dietrich (Will the Circle Be Unbroken?) with music by Austin, TX songwriter Rebecca Loebe (Give Up Your Ghosts) and guitarist Kaleb Garrett (Sunshine Girl)
Hosts: Jim Dees and our house band, the Yalobushwhackers
Radio: WUMS 92.1 FM (Oxford)