Meander Belt: family, loss, and coming of age in the working class south (October 2019)

Advanced Praise for Meander Belt: family, loss, and coming of age in the working class south

“For all their poignant intimacy, the essays in Meander Belt are somehow also achingly universal, a self-portrait made up of wisdom and vulnerability that tells the story of a family, a place, and a culture.” 

—John D’Agata, author of About a Mountain and Lifespan of a Fact

Randal O’Wain’s memoir, Meander Belt, is more than the heart wrenching story of a working class southern family in the last decades of the twentieth century and the first decade of the twenty first. In and through the struggles he and his family experience, O’Wain reveals the insidious effects of class and status on the most intimate aspects of American life. Meander Belt combines riveting storytelling with implicit emotional, psychosocial analysis; the result is the rarest of all books—a deeply thoughtful page-turner. 

—Alan Shapiro is the author of Reel to Reel, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and Night of the Republic, a finalist for the National Book Award. 

What happens when a boy sets off to change the legacy of his family, to re-create the self, invent new stories, and become a restless searcher even as he remains trapped, as we all do, between guilt and innocence? Meander Beltis the story of that boy, a tour de force of white working class identity married to a writer’s imaginative hunger for words. What makes this book remarkable is the narrator’s steely tension between his innate desire for unknown worlds and the pull back to the roughed up, Wild West of Memphis where a hardworking but wounded father has planted the seeds of loyalty.

         —Patricia Foster, author of All the Lost Girls, and most recently Girl from Soldier Creek.

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