Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

Memphis, A City of Timelessness and Transition

New book considers the effects of globalization on a great Southern city … and vice versa

In Memphis and the Paradox of Place, Wanda Rushing explores the cultural, geographic, and economic influences of a city that holds a unique place in Tennessee and the world. Rushing’s nuanced investigation has real-world implications for Memphis’s future — and for cities such as New Orleans, which seem in a perpetual state of limbo.

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Never Can Say Goodbye

Becca Stevens explains why hearts are meant to be broken

On the topic of grief, Becca Stevens is wise, ruthless, mystified, and tender. Story after story supports the arc of her impossibly simple message: we are never alone. Love beats death every time.

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In Praise of Doubt

Grappling with ethical and existential dilemmas (religion optional)

David Dark—a schoolteacher, scholar and evangelical gadfly—urges his readers to question everything, including the whole of orthodox religion and even their belief in God. Consequently, although his new book was clearly conceived with a Christian audience in mind, Dark’s thoughtful iconoclasm invites anyone to, as he puts it, “submit everything we’re up to, at work and at play, to the discipline of sacred questioning.”

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Engaging Ontogeny—and Animal Sex

Michael Sims discusses biological and literary creativity

Where do babies come from? It may be a child’s question, but the answer is far from simple, especially if we consider the baby-making processes of the whole animal kingdom, as Michael Sims does in his companion to the National Geographic Channel’s television special of the same name, In the Womb: Animals. It features ultrasound images of fetal animals that are so detailed and vivid it’s almost hard to believe they aren’t simulations.

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Roadside Zoo

Just another life-or-death road trip

On a trip to Maine, my wife and I saw more dead animals than live ones. I became morbidly fascinated by them. That smudge on the road was amphibian, I would think, his cold humor drawn to the stone warmth of highway on a passionate night. Overturned, an ottoman would aim its wooden legs like this dead possum. The immigrant coyote? A wild rug flung on the carpeted ditch. And all those raccoons, their comic bandit role forgotten in these deathbed scenes.

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The Humanitarian's Dilemma

A soft touch navigates the food chain

One freezing Monday in January, I stopped at the big box pet emporium to buy my dogs their kibble and treats. As I stepped out of the car I saw a white mutt standing about thirty feet away, surveying the parking lot with that mixture of confidence and wariness that is the hallmark of long-term strays. I called him. As I expected, he acknowledged me but kept his distance. Dogs that are newly lost will either come straight to you or run away in a panic. This guy was clearly hardcore homeless.

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