Cover To Cover is the anchor program for GPB’s literary coverage. Cover To Cover features a collection of distinctive Southern voices interviewing Georgia writers, Southern writers, and writers dealing with the South. The GPB Southern Lit Cadre will provide you with a varied, weekly glimpse at fiction, non-fiction, history, poetry, and even the occasional ‘old school’ nod to Flannery O’Connor or William Faulkner.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Jim Braziel's Birmingham, 35 Miles On Cover To Cover Sunday at 8pm

Jesse Freeman talks with Wilcox, County Georgia-born writer Jim Braziel on Sunday about Braziel's debut novel Birmingham, 35 Miles. The dystopian novel is set in the future, in an Alabama beset by the collapse of the environment. Here's what Jesse had to say about Braziel and the book--

Jim Braziel has dedicated his debut novel, Birmingham, 35 Miles, to his childhood friend, Ray Wiggins. It’s no coincidence that the novel’s central character, Mathew Harrison, also has a best friend named Ray, but I was a little taken aback when I asked Braziel about the connection. You see, Ray Wiggins committed suicide as a young adult and Braziel is still palpably unsettled by the loss some twenty years later. For whatever solace it may have given him, Jim Braziel has wrought a particularly animate character in the fictional Ray.

In fact, Jim Braziel breathes a good measure of life into most of his characters, almost as if they’re golems shaped from the red clay soil middle and lower Alabama, where this novel is set.

But, though the place may be familiar, readers may not recognize the society that inhabits it. Birmingham, 35 Miles, is set between the years 2014 and 2044 in the Southeastern Desert, a waste-land left in the wake of an ecological disaster. The remnants of the United States government rides rough-shot over the nomadic survivors with tyrannical resolve and licensing processes for almost every aspect of life. But the real conflict of this novel is not between rebels and enforcers, it is between the conflicted impulses of Mathew, who seems to be a prisoner of his own inertia more than anything else. This is real, character driven-fiction. It’s science fictional but it isn’t Science Fiction.

This is Jim Braziel’s first interview and I think you’ll enjoy his fresh perspective on being published. Some writers never stop complaining about the publishing process (especially promotions!) but Braziel is not one of these. He’s enjoying the ride, and I think you’ll enjoy, Birmingham, 35 Miles.--Jesse Freeman