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

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.

Grant Holub-Moorman coordinates events and North Carolina outreach for WUNC, including a monthly trivia night. He is a founding member of Embodied and a former producer for The State of Things.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.