Violence, Family Loyalty And The Painful Nostalgia Of A Blue Collar Boyhood

Jan 28, 2020

Chapters diverge in style and in point-of-view, as O'Wain weaves together hindsight, second-hand accounts, and the limited perspective of his youth.
Credit University of Nebraska Press

M. Randal O’Wain’s memoir features standard ingredients of a classic country song: beat-up trucks, cigarette smoke, and a nostalgic father-son relationship. Yet at the same time, it manages to pull the rug out from under stereotypes of working class life in the South.

Violence soaks the pages of “Meander Belt: Family, Loss, and Coming of Age in the Working-Class South” (University of Nebraska Press/2019), not in gory detail, rather as a wry aftertaste.

The preface of O’Wain’s memoir eschews accuracy. Rather he lets his memory be true to itself, eroding and choosing new paths. At times O’Wain skirts the trauma of his cultural incongruence and sexual assault, other times, he plummets over the edge of a recollection.

Host Frank Stasio discusses the socioeconomic ceilings of Southern society with author M. Randal O’Wain, an assistant teaching professor of creative writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. O’Wain will share his creative process at Okay Alright in Durham on Saturday, Feb. 8 at 9 p.m. and will speak at the North Carolina Book Festival, Feb. 21-23 in Raleigh.