The Last Saturday in America

The Last Saturday in America

by: Ray McManus
Release date: Mar 12th, 2024

For fans of Americana music and a beer after mowing the lawn, The Last Saturday in America confronts the long shadow of Southern masculinity. Read More

Softcover - $16.00
(ISBN: 979-8-88574-031-9)

For fans of Americana music and a beer after mowing the lawn, The Last Saturday in America confronts the long shadow of Southern masculinity.

The Last Saturday in America is set in a nation on the precipice of great change. Through examinations of suburban neighbors, bullies, gun violence, and vasectomy appointments, Ray McManus draws a portrait of American masculinity in the face of political division, pandemic, and cultural warfare. McManus’s speaker is caught between the way he was raised and the future he wants to see for who he is raising. He can no longer rely on what he thought he knew, nor does he know what to do about it. The man rendered in these pages is a father, a son, a Southerner. And he is willing to burn it all down and start something new, only to see that the new start he is looking for has been with him the whole time.

Praise for The Last Saturday in America

"These are poems about boys listening to men who were once boys who listened to men, the blind leading the blind leading the blind through the dark. Some boys grow up. Some men never do. Ray McManus has chipped away at the pageantry and performance, the stupidity of the lie, the outright futility of it all.... The Last Saturday In America is, 'a song that pays homage / to a history of work we should’ve done better.' Here’s hoping one day we do." —David Joy, author of Those We Thought We Knewfrom the introduction  

"The poems in this collection are deeply invested in the rural South, interrogating ideas of masculinity and inheritance.  The straightforward syntax suits the unvarnished subject matter—childhood bullies, Dale Earnhardt, the neighbor shooting snakes with his pistol. The plainspoken is elevated through McManus’s carefully tuned ear and nuanced appreciated for anaphora and sonic density.  You won’t want the sun to set on The Last Saturday in America—it’s a moving, masterful work." —Beth Ann Fennelly, author of Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs 

“I’ve always been a sucker for folks that have the innate ability to present complex human emotions in a simplified language. Massive ideas reduced to small, palatable portions. As a writer, you’re lucky if you can perform this magic trick once or twice, but this just seems to be how Ray operates. Effortlessly endearing while remaining razor sharp. Calling out the place he’s from while singing its praises at the same time. This dichotomy is the bedrock of effective southern literature and in this collection, Ray makes it look easy.” —BJ Barham of American Aquarium

“This new collection by Ray McManus is the punch of that punchline, an elegy for those boys-that-will-be-boys born into an American South just daring them to bash their brains jumping off bridges and to take blind curves far too fast. These are boys forged by the fires of toxic masculinity, boys that become shift workers fuming in crawl spaces and sand pits, tearing apart block houses and repair shops, men damaged by a deep history of colonial destruction now doing some real damage to others and themselves. These poems never make excuses but do what the best poems dare to do—to bear witness, to say what few have courage to say, and ultimately, to understand. This refusal to turn away is where the necessary work of healing begins, where we can gather those boys in a new kind of light, full of purpose and love.” —Nickole Brown, author of Sister & Fanny Says

"A Southerner himself, McManus approaches this collection from the view of someone both steeped in and appreciative of the region’s cultural touchpoints, while at the same time confronting a realization of the rot those norms can seed in the men it produces. McManus is particularly poignant when drawing lines from within our culture, dominated by media and materialism, to the men who dwell within it...Emotionally resonant and often bravely blunt, McManus takes a great step forward in the collective search for a different path." —Becca Stanek, Southern Review of Books

Ray McManus

Ray McManus

Ray McManus is the author of four books of poetry: Punch. (winner of the 2015 Independent Publishers Book Award for Best Book of Poetry in North America), Red Dirt Jesus (selected by Alicia Ostriker for the Marick Press Poetry Prize 2011), and Driving through the country before you are born (winner of the South Carolina Book Prize in 2006), and a chapbook called Left Behind. He is the co-editor for the anthology Found Anew with notable contributors with South Carolina ties. His poems have been published in numerous journals such as Crazyhorse, Prairie Schooner, and POETRY magazine. He lives in South Carolina where he teaches for USC Sumter and serves as the Writer in Residence for the Columbia Museum of Art.

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