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.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Back to the Future (And to Wilcox County)

We featured James Braziel on Cover to Cover about eighteen months ago when we switched to the new format. We talked about his elegiac debut novel Birmingham, 35 Miles. He’s recently published a follow-up novel, Snakeskin Road, and we thought it would be nice to do a follow-up interview, of sorts.

Again, the setting is the near future wasteland of the U.S., roughly forty years after an environmental disaster brought about by the nation’s consumptive tendencies. The ozone layer has been ripped asunder and the inhabitants of the scorched earth fight for survival in what becomes a morbidly self-serving world. Mat Harrison was the hero of Birmingham, 25 Miles, but he didn’t survive for the sequel.

Instead, for most of Snakeskin, we follow his widow, Jennifer, and her reluctant charge, Mazy, as they try to make their way northward to the city-state of Chicago, where Jennifer’s mother lives and where life may or may not be more manageable. Braziel uses his future world as a canvas upon which to blend the hues of a handful of timely concerns, including human trafficking, the perils of dogmatic religious pursuit, and xenophobia. But chief among his foci is of course our stewardship of our natural resources.

Despite the poignant attention given the subject in each of the novels, I don’t think it really occurred to me until reading Braziel’s Southverve blog how much of a sacred space he gives to the environment in his life and in his writing. So maybe I should just direct you here:

But really, I want to direct you to his fine sophomore effort, Snakeskin Road, and to Cover to Cover this Sunday on the GPB Radio network. Remember, we’re on at 6 PM in the Athens area and at 8 PM in most other parts of the state. Please join us. (Oh, and if you’re from Wilcox County, where Braziel grew up, make doubly sure to tune in. During the interview James wondered aloud if anyone there read his books!)

Listen to this episode