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Alabama Boys & The Apocalypse @ Hallwalls

Novelist Charles McNair's Pulitzer Prize nominated 1994 novel Land O' Goshen (St. Martins Press) is set in a secessionist, dystopian Alabama at some point in the near future after America's second Civil War.  An army of Christian Soldiers loyal to a fundamentalist minister controls much of the old Confederacy, suppressing an insurgency of dissidents and freethinkers.

As in Cormac MacCarthy's The Road, the protagonist through whose eyes we witness much of this anarchy loosened upon the world is a boy--in McNair's case a 14 year old orphan named Buddy, who possesses a certain supernatural outfitting which permits him, when disguised as the "Wild Thang," to engage in acts of insurrection against the theocracy.  Described by Library Journal as "part allegory, part horror tale, and part apocalyptic prediction," Land O' Goshen catapulted the debut novelist to widespread acclaim.

These days McNair is Book Editor at Paste Magazine, a nationally distributed culture and music publication. His writing has appeared in Saturday Review, Paste, Southern Living, The Black Warrior Review, and Negative Capability.  His literary reviews appear regularly on CBC radio and in the London Times Literary Supplement.

Tonight at 7 p.m., he will join fellow Alabama native and Buffalo State College professor Allen Shelton in "The Alalbama Boys & the Apocalypse," an Exhibit X Fiction & Prose Series reading sponsored by the UB English Department and Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center at Hallwalls Cinema, 341 Delaware Ave., near Tupper.

Shelton is the author of Dreamworlds of Alabama (University of Minnesota Press, 2007), a book we described in this space last year as "a rich, haunting and often humorous collection of intertwined essays that ranks with any "exile narrative" I've read in years...part memoir, part social theory, part lyrical evocation of his upbringing and early adulthood on a family farm in the Appalachian foothills of northeastern Alabama (near the town of Jacksonville).   In a narrative that references his intellectual precursors--not only Marcel Proust and Walter Benjamin, but Kafka, Freud and Marx as well--Shelton seamlessly reconstructs a "memory palace" of decontextualized artifacts that is the simulacrum of his former nuclear family and agrarian way of life."

--R.D. Pohl



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