Category Creative Nonfiction

Follow the Red Dirt Road: Some Thoughts on Being a Southern Writer

My friend, colleague, and fellow native Alabamian, Gary Walker, wrote an excellent USR essay a couple of weeks ago reflecting on being a writer who just happens to be from the South. Despite others’ expectations that he write about red dirt, hunting, fishing, football, the land, and the people, Gary confessed that he doesn’t really feel motivated to write about Dixie-themed topics. Gary’s admission is a little surprising (after all,

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Checking in on Twin Peaks: The Return

A couple of months ago, I came before you, friends and readers, to herald the return of that nexus of alternate dimensions, spiritual possession, unexplained murders, damn fine coffee, and cherry pie that is Twin Peaks. Now, with thirteen episodes in the rear-view, I’m back to report on my findings. First things first: It’s been a confusing, funny, creepy, and weird ride. It’s been hypnotic, astounding, and occasionally even beautiful.

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“How Do You Know That?” and “Why Should I Care?”: Examining Assumptions and Other Acts of Self-Improvement

A few days ago, I received an e-mail from a student thanking me for a fun and informative Spring semester. Feedback like this is always appreciated, especially after grades have been posted, but this contained an extra bit of encouragement. At the end of the message, the student wrote, “The two most important things I learned this semester: ‘How do you know this?’ and ‘Why should I care?’” What the

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Hotel Breakfast Buffet Nightmares: The Compilation

Last week at the kick-ass US Represented staff party, my colleagues and I had an interesting conversation about travel. Eric, our esteemed editor-in-chief, told us he’s planning a trip to Greece next summer and wanted to know whether he should rent a car and strike out on his own or hang with a tour group. Pretty much everyone was in agreement with him that going solo instead of being the

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What I Don’t Write (About): A Writing Mini-Manifesto from a “Southern” Writer

When I started writing fiction, I was told that, as a southerner, I’d been imbued with an appreciation for “my land” and “my people” and they therefore must be part of any story I set out to write. Imagine my confusion when I found that, despite reading vivid descriptions of endless varieties of red dirt, lengthy passages of agricultural history, and tedious accounts of hunting excursions and football injuries, I

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Gary’s Off-the-Map Movie Pick: Gentlemen Broncos

From Jared Hess, the mind that brought the universe Napoleon Dynamite, comes Gentlemen Broncos, a 2009 film about bad science fiction, intellectual property, independent filmmaking, blow darts, geodome living, and nightgowns. If you’re looking for something funny and a little unusual, this could be the one for you. The protagonist of Gentlemen Broncos, Benjamin, is a young science fiction writer seeking publication for his novel Yeast Lords (you read that correctly). He attends a writing conference

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