Join us on January 21st at 7PM for a virtual conversation with Charles Dodd White and Karen Salyer McElmurray! White's newest novel, How Fire Runs, is a SIBA Fall 2020 Okra Pick, and McElmurray is the award-winning author of Wanting Radiance.
A chilling, timely reminder of the moral and human costs of racial hatred.
What happens when a delusional white supremacist and his army of followers decide to create a racially pure “Little Europe” within a rural Tennessee community? As the town’s residents grapple with their new reality, minor skirmishes escalate and dirty politics, scandals, and a cataclysmic chain of violence follows. In this uncanny reflection of our time, award-winning novelist Charles Dodd White asks whether Americans can save themselves from their worst impulses and considers the consequences when this salvation comes too late.
"With artfully complex characters…White’s work captures the rhythms of rural life as they begin to beat faster in the face of calamity."--Booklist
“How Fire Runs is at once elemental and blisteringly contemporary—a story rooted in our past, yet crackling amid the fires of the American present. Charles Dodd White writes with the steady hand of a master, confronting complicated truths and emotions with clear eyes and grace, giving us a constellation of characters grappling over the identity of their town… and America itself. This is a brave and important novel from one of our best.”—Taylor Brown, author of Pride of Eden
Charles Dodd White is the author of four novels, including two from Swallow Press: How Fire Runs and In the House of Wilderness. He has received the Appalachian Book of the Year Award and the Chaffin Award for his fiction. He lives in Knoxville, Tennessee, where he is an associate professor of English at Pellissippi State Community College.
Miracelle Loving's world comes crashing down when her mother, Ruby, is murdered during a fortune-telling session gone wrong. Not that she had much of a stable world to lose in the first place; the free-spirited mother-daughter duo had never remained in one place for very long. Without the guidance of her mother, Miracelle grows up following the only path she knows, traveling from town to town, sometimes fortune-telling, picking up odd jobs to fill the time and escape the ever-present lostness she can't seem to run far enough away from.
Uncertain of what she wants and, indeed, whether she wants anything or anyone at all, the now thirty-something-year-old finds herself working as a card reader in a Knoxville dive bar, selling fictions as futures, when she is confronted with her mother's ghost voice promising to reveal the truth about her shadowy past. Desperate for answers, Miracelle sets out on a magical road trip unlike any other, in search of her own story and a father she's never known.
Following snowy highways and backroads, Miracelle stumbles across a museum of oddities and a hole-in-the-road town called Radiant, ultimately wandering into the town of Smyte, where she begins waitressing at the Black Cat Diner. Here, she befriends card-playing has-been Russell Wallen, whom she joins for a series of nighttime adventures, long drives, and after-dark visits to a Holy Roller church. This mythical journey uncovers family secrets and forgotten truths, transforming a familiar story of love and betrayal to reveal the binding power of magic and memory.
"In vivid prose that reads like pure poetry, Karen McElmurray has written an incantatory Appalachian gothic tale of love, murder, and restless souls, populated with unforgettable flesh-and-blood characters. Wanting Radiance is nothing less than a literary masterpiece."―Amy Greene, author of Bloodroot and Long Man: A Novel
Karen Salyer McElmurray won an AWP Award for creative nonfiction for her book Surrendered Child: A Birth Mother's Journey and the Orison Award for creative nonfiction for her essay "Blue Glass." She has had other essays recognized as "Notable Essays" in Best American Essays, while her essays "Speaking Freely" and "Attics" were nominated for Pushcart Awards. She currently teaches at Gettysburg College and in West Virginia Wesleyan's Low-Residency MFA program.