The Life Sentence of Dicky Joe Jackson and His FamilyBy J. Malcolm Garcia
In order to pay for his son Cole’s life-saving surgery, he transported meth. But he got caught.
The Chemistry of an EchoBy Candace Opper
On the twentieth anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death, investigating copycat suicide and the lasting influence of the Nirvana icon.
It Will Look Like a SunsetBy Kelly Sundberg
“You made me hit you in the face,” he said mournfully. “Now everyone is going to know.”
The American South: On the Map and in the MindMarch 2014
A Guernica special issue.
Hey MamaBy Kiese Laymon
A black mother and her son talk about language and love in the South.
On the SouthMarch 2014
Fifteen writers on a region, a culture, a mindset.
Against Bless-Your-Heart MannersBy Catherine Lacey
On the paradox of LGBT churchgoers, Mississippi’s copycat anti-gay bill, and the South’s damaging culture of politeness.
On a Strange Roof, Thinking of HomeBy Ed Winstead
Toward a definition of Southern literature that goes beyond twang.
Ain’tsBy Rachael Maddux
Most summers my sister and I were taken along to family reunions and also to cemetery meetings, where the family discussed the upkeep of a fenced-in plot of graves on a bald hilltop in a valley we’d peppered with ourselves since the 1800s at least. It seemed to me then that the chief purpose of these gatherings was to figure out how we were all related to one another, that if we could just figure it all out then we wouldn’t have to keep meeting this way, year after year, always on the hottest day of the summer.
Silence and Southern MenBy David Bottoms
This was an age of great social upheaval—desegregation and the beginnings of the Civil Rights Movement, labor issues, the birth of the youth movement, a time when conversation might have opened on any number of relevant and important topics—but in my hometown in the American South, the region of the country known for its storytelling, men rarely said a word.
Astonishing YankeesBy John Biguenet
As a boy, I watched mothers of classmates spit on a crucifix held up by our parish priest as he attempted to lead a little black girl to a waiting car the day my Catholic school was integrated in New Orleans. But I witnessed incidents of racial prejudice that shocked me just as deeply in summer visits to my mother’s hometown of Brooklyn.
The BorderlandBy Bill Cheng
There are times this love, like all love, makes me feel stupid and ridiculous—giving a piece of my heart to a man born a lifetime ago a thousand miles away. I know what I look like. I know the sound of my voice. I know that a four-story walk-up is not a shotgun shack and the BQE is not the crossroads and that the Key to the Highway was never really mine.
Wherever the Four Winds BlowBy Glenn T. Eskew
Savannah native Johnny Mercer trafficked in the sui generis jazz, blues, and hillbilly sounds that he and other Southern diaspora entertainers took with them when escaping the drudgery of sharecropping cotton and its retainers for the brighter lights of northern and western cities.
The Problem of This GhostBy Laura van den Berg
In Key West, I noticed the wild roosters in the palm trees, the seawall laced with purple algae, the dark, mountainous clouds that appeared before a storm. I noticed Florida. What a strange and troubled and occasionally magical place. What a place to have come from.
If I Leave Here TomorrowBy Megan Mayhew Bergman
As the song reaches its frenzy—“Lord, I can’t change”—we are driving home with the windows down, pummelling the dashboard like a drum. My hair is flying across my face, and I can smell his cologne. His headlights land on the tawny body of a deer sprinting across the road. Everything inside me is wild, beautiful, beer-drenched.
On Being a Southern WriterBy Margaret Wrinkle
Being a Southern writer means my grandfather’s grandfather looking down on us from his portrait at the top of the stairs in my grandparents’ house. A stout and fierce man of sixty somehow buttoned into the Confederate uniform he’d worn in his twenties, which still lies folded in the cedar chest in the attic.
So There It IsBy Lightsey Darst
You see, here is a narrative nearness that approximates the closing in of landscape by hills and trees, and the closing in of space and night-sky and finality by the presence of ghost ancestors who perhaps are also trapped by the land, which is beautiful, unutterably beautiful, so it’s no wonder the dead aren’t leaving to go into that goddamned light.
The Story of Senator Henry S. FooteBy David Foote
Foote also happens to be my last name, and what the history books fail to mention is that my ancient relative was also the only senator in American history to draw a pistol on the Senate floor and attempt to shoot another politician.
ParadiseBy Wendy Brenner
I see these signs, but I also see alligators and flamingos and cypress knees and Spanish moss, dolphins and palm fronds and pine cones the size of pumpkins. Even the clouds are bigger down here, as if the sky is closer to earth. Whether or not you believe in Him, God abides in the everyday of Southern life, not tucked away in churches and synagogues, saved for special occasions.
Audubon ParkBy Jed Horne
There are the young women of Tulane and Loyola, yacking in pairs or jogging endlessly to shed the proverbial freshman fifteen. There are the dog walkers bearing wee plastic satchels of scooped shit to the nearest trash can. Love-sick couples catch a breath of air before repairing again to the bower. There are the scrawny skateboard dudes with more tattoos than they have years of school.
Southern PastoralBy Tom Piazza
I heard Barry Hannah tell a story one time about a writer from some Northern magazine come through Oxford, Mississippi, back in Barry’s drinking days. They were sitting there and nobody was saying anything, and Barry was staring at this fellow, who was getting kinda nervous, you understand, wondering what he was supposed to do and say, and after a long silence Barry just looked at him and said, “Whut the FUCK are you lookin’ at?”
The WalkBy Jamie Quatro
It’s the first sunny day in a week, warm, the kind of soft-focus, liquid air that makes me feel half-time and drowsy. Blots of color in yards along Lula Lake: purple crocus, yellow forsythia, green onion grass. Hudson yanks up a cluster and chucks it across the street, then smells his fingers. Will that grass make actual onions? he asks.
Offending the AuthenticBy Kent Wascom
We lurch after the authentic, whether dictated by white-column worshippers or BBQ alchemists or blues hagiographers or poverty tourists, and flog with equal glee outsiders who dare to intellectually or physically invade the bounds of our territory and those insiders who don’t match an idea of authenticity that amounts to little more than commoditized regionalism.
Official HistoriesBy Kirsten Weld
Veterans of Guatemala’s long civil war recover the secret archive of the National Police, pulling together the missing parts of the past.
The Loneliest and Saddest KindBy Ruth Fowler
A trio of unlikely housemates navigates celibacy in sex-sopped Venice Beach.
Death in Camp DeltaBy Mario Kaiser
On the power of silence, submission to force-feeding, and the first suicides in Guantánamo.
The CuckoldBy James Harms
Do all cuckolds start out fearless and end up foolish?
Freedom of Expression: The Gray AreasFebruary 2014
Guernica and Free Word in association with Article 19 and English PEN.
Repression By Any Other NameBy Ariel Dorfman
The Chilean playwright remembers the moment he learned what it means to fear one’s own words—and finds that from Pinochet to the Patriot Act, the state listens, watches, and waits.
On Freedom of Speech 论言论自由By Hu Ping 胡平, translated from the Chinese by Eric Abrahamsen
Excerpts from Chinese dissident Hu Ping’s seminal 1980 essay, translated for the first time into English.