There's a phrase that comes up when discussing Southern literature. You might've heard it:
The South is a place; East, North and West are merely directions.
This will make sense to anyone who has read To Kill A Mockingbird or Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Authors like Harper Lee and John Berendt take you to places with distinct voices, characters and surroundings. You can hear the accents, feel the prejudice, and picture the unique landscape and architecture.
But that phrase -- The South is a place; East, North and West are merely directions -- is notable for what it ignores: the Middle. That broad center of the nation, that undefined intermediate, is the subject of a panel discussion called "Midwestern Voices in Literature," Saturday, Dec. 9, at The House Cafe in DeKalb.
The event is co-sponsored by WNIJ which invited three authors from the Read With Me series to discuss voices from "the Middle." Who are they, what are they saying, what motivates them to write? And what does any of this mean for readers in the so-called flyover states?
The authors are Chris Fink, Marnie O. Mamminga and Kyle L. White. Each writes with a distinct voice and a strong sense of place.
Fink, a Beloit College English professor, is the author of Farmer's Almanac, a book of linked stories about life in Wisconsin and the challenges people face there. He is also a regular contributor to WNIJ's Perspectives series.
Mamminga, a retired teacher, has two essay collections -- On a Clear Night and Return to Wake Robin -- that recount her family's life in suburban Chicago, and at their vacation cabin in Wisconsin's north woods.
Kyle L. White, author of Neighbor As Yourself and Wisconsin River of Grace, writes humorous essays and poetry about love, death and God. He lives in Sycamore.
WNIJ's Dan Klefstad will moderate the discussion which will start at Noon and go until 1:30 p.m. The last half hour will be reserved for attendees' questions. The authors will then sign copies of their books which will be available for purchase.
Whether you're a reader, a writer, or an average Midwesterner, we hope to see you at The House on Dec. 9. And we look forward to hearing your thoughts on this topic.