Dan Leach on “Floods and Fires” in the Southern Literary Review

Dan Leach, a published author with the University of North Georgia Press, just completed his book Floods and Fires. The Southern Literary Review’s Allen Mendenhall, who is also a published author with the University of North Georgia Press, recently interviewed Dan Leach about his book, himself, and his take on the ever-evolving world of the short story.

Though Leach is a two-time published author, his passion was not always in writing short stories. He graduated from Clemson in 2008 with an Education Degree and recently changed to claims adjusting at a large insurance company. He juggles a 9-5 job, a family at home, and mentoring other aspiring writers all while making time to write his own short stories. Though he says, “I just keep showing up and, somehow, the work gets done,” we know that works like his do not appear out of thin air.

Just like other writers, he did not get here without some advice from other experienced individuals. Leach quotes George Singleton and Dale Ray Phillips as being “very generous” with him, going so far as to say they gave him “an MFA through email.” These two individuals helped him take his first steps into writing and continue to coach him today.

Leach and Allen Mendenhall also discuss what makes Floods and Fires such an interesting read. One thing Mendenhall “likes about the collection” is the order of the stories through different narrative styles. As Leach puts it, this choice for the book makes it feel more balanced. He also tells Mendenhall that his favorite story is “Not Home Yet” for the “moments” throughout the story. Leach’s description of the scenes show why this short story is so captivating and immersive.

During the interview, Dan Leach also tells Mendenhall that he believes this is the “moment” for short stories. Whether or not this is true, this is definitely Leach’s moment and a right step into a promising future for his writing. Be sure to check out this interview and Dan’s book Floods and Fires!

Floods and Fires can be bought at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million! You can find him at his website.

Hispanic Heritage Month Book Recommendations

Hi everyone! We hope that you’re enjoying the start of Hispanic Heritage Month. We’re here today to bring you even more great books to read. Have a recommendation you’d like to share? Read any of these and have an opinion on it? Leave a comment, visit us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter to share your thoughts and see even more great content.

Playing for the Devil’s Fire — Phillipee Diederich

Life in Boli’s pueblo, Izayoc, goes on how it normally does: uneventfully. Boli and his friends are focused on playing marbles and not much else. They’re trying to win the prized Devil’s Fire marble from an older boy named Mosca, but then the severed head of Enrique Quintanilla is discovered. Everything changes, like how Boli’s once poor neighbors suddenly have new SUVs. Boli’s parents leave for Toluca, but then disappear, and no one will talk about it. He decides to take matters into his own hands and uncover the truth, but he needs the unlikely help of a “has-been” luchador, El Chicano Estrada. Diederich’s writing is powerful, and his young narrator sees things others intentionally miss. It’s an instant classic in young adult fiction.

Dreaming in Cuban — Cristina García

This novel follows the story and struggles of Celia del Pino and her family as they survive the Cuban Revolution. Following three generations of the del Pino family, this dreamlike story goes into the heart and soul of Cuba. The depth and the division of the Cuban Revolution has struck Celia del Pino and her family, the politics and geography leaving their mark. Cristina Garcia focuses on the affect the Cuban Revolution has on the women of the family, creating a tale that is central around womanhood. Dreaming in Cuba uncovers and brings to light the bittersweet challenges that families go through when living in a country that is in a war with itself.

How the García Girls Lost Their Accents — Julia Alvarez

When their father gets in trouble and enlists help from a CIA operative, the four García sisters—Carla, Sandra, Yolanda, and Sofia—find themselves suddenly uprooted from their Dominican Republic home and are forced to migrate to New York City in 1960. Narrated between the four García sisters, we see the experiences and challenges they face when exposed to a new culture. Overwhelmed, they try to assimilate to their new home, buying new clothes and straightening their hair, but their Dominican Republic culture is emphasized as the story is told in reverse. Considered an essential part of Latino literature, the García girls undoubtedly make their stories heard.

Lost City Radio — Daniel Alarcón

Daniel Alarcón’s Lost City Radio depicts the life of Norma, who lives in a nameless South America country that is in the aftermath of a war. Norma is the host of the country’s most popular radio station, Lost City Radio. Every week, she lists the names of those who have disappeared and gone missing as the Indians in the mountains and the poor from the barrios listen. Norma has helped loved ones reunite, all while suffering from her own husband’s disappearance at the end of the war. When a boy named Victor arrives from the jungle and gives her a clue about the fate of her husband, Norma’s life changes once again. The loss of language and culture hang over this story as Norma tries to find more than her missing husband.

 

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month With Us!

Today is the first day of Hispanic Heritage Month! It’s a month long celebration of Hispanic and Latino culture which runs from September 15 to October 15 in the U.S. We’re excited to learn more about it, and we hope you join us!

What is Hispanic Heritage Month?

Hispanic Heritage Month started in 1968 by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Originally only a week long, it was to honor the contributions and sacrifices of Hispanic and Latino Americans in the U.S. President Ronald Regan expanded it to a month-long celebration in 1988. It begins on September 15th because five Latin American countries celebrate their independence today: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Mexico, Chile, and Belize also celebrate their independence during the month.

Why is Hispanic Heritage Month Important?

Hispanic Heritage Month gives people an opportunity to connect to their heritage that they may not have otherwise. Over 17% of the U.S. population is Hispanic or Latino, making Hispanic Americans the largest minority in the U.S., whether ethnically or racially. 9.4% of Georgians are Hispanic or Latino as of July 2016. The Latin American diaspora has separated many people from their homelands and identities. Hispanic Heritage Month allows them to reconnect with their communities and strengthen their cultural identity.

Ways to Participate

We believe that everyone has a right to their heritage and cultural identity. “Local is Global” after all. Each Hispanic Heritage Month, the University of North Georgia hosts a series of events for students and members of the local community. Dance performances, guest speakers, and a Day of the Dead presentation will all be occuring. These events are sponsored by the Latin American Student Organization (LASO) on the Dahlonega campus, the Latino Student Association (LSA) on the Gainesville campus, and the Spanish Club on the Oconee campus, as well as Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA), directed by Dr. Robert Robinson.

UNG Reads will also be reading Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya for Hispanic Heritage Month. Project director Dr. Tanya Bennett says that this novel was chosen because of “its relatability to north Georgians with a Hispanic heritage.” UNG Reads will host campus events through October, including visiting author Daina Chaviano on October 25. More information can be found here.

Learn More

Each Wednesday during Hispanic Heritage Month, the Press will have a blog post featuring different Hispanic authors and books, as well as any updated information about the UNG events. Below are our first three recommendations. If you want to discuss these books, or have any other recommendations or requests, leave a comment, tweet us @UnivPressNG, or follow us on Facebook!

1. The Barbarian Nurseries — Héctor Tobar

The Barbarian Nurseries follows the Torres-Thompson family—half Mexican only in name—and their live-in Mexican employee, Araceli Ramírez. When the Torres-Thompson parents disappear, leaving behind two boys who Araceli has never spoken to, she must find a way to bring them to their grandfather. Tobar’s tongue-in-cheek tone creates a compelling narrative. The duality of American and Mexican identity follows each character in this book about humanity and what it means to belong.

 

2. The House on Mango Street — Sandra Cisneros

A classic. Taught byevery English teach, read by children and adults alike. The House on Mango Street is a bittersweet memory shared to the world. Told in a series of vignettes, Cisneros wrote a novel that “can be opened at any page and… still make sense.” Mango Street creates the universal ache of growing up, the pain of conflicting identities and forlorn hope that each person experiences. But in its sorrows, it reminds us that we are not alone in the world. “You can’t erase what you know. You can’t forget who you are.” But you can still be free.

 

3. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao — Junot Díaz

The de León family is cursed. The fukú has followed them for generations, in the Dominican Republic, in America, lurking in every corner. The story rotates between characters, following Oscar, his sister Lola, and their mother Beli. This novel is heart-wrenching. A dreaded tale where something always gets worse. Your heart breaks for the de León’s, but the multigenerational tale creates the feelings of being part of something greater than everyday life. The novel makes you unsure of your footing from the start, but the chaos is authentic, and as you’ll learn, ever family has their own fukú.

Sources:
National Hispanic Heritage Month 2017 (Gov)
National Hispanic Heritage Month 2017
U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Georgia
Latino Student Association connects UNG students to Hispanic culture
UNG reads “Bless Me Ultima”

If You Liked “The Southern Philosopher,” You’ll Love These!

John William Corrington is a man of letters whose writings were not limited to one subject. He discusses the humanities and science, gnosticism and religion, universities and the South. Many of his writings were verbal lectures or unpublished, his fame coming from his films rather than his literary works. But no matter the medium he worked in, Corrington’s speech is affable, a teacher sharing his insights until the very end.

To better understand philosophy, and thus, better understand Corrington, we have two book recommendations for you. We hope you enjoy all three books as much as we do!

The New Science of Politics: An Introduction by Eric Voegelin

Eric Voegelin was a German native but was raised in Vienna. He taught political theory and sociology at the University of Vienna and was an outspoken critic of Nazism. Forced to flee Austria after the Anschluss, he eventually settled in Louisiana. The chaos of the world at the time influenced Voegelin’s thoughts and led to his developed idea of gnosticism, which in turn influenced Corrington. The New Science of Politics are his lectures from 1951, and this introduction provides a clear insight to his teachings.

Philosophy Through Film (3rd edition) by Mary Litch and Amy Karofsky

Corrington is best known as the screenwriter of The Omega Man and Battle for the Planet of the Apes. Even if he personally preferred his literary works, his films were not completely separate from his philosophies. Philosophy Through Film uses popular films to explore different concepts of philosophy. (Inception is Chapter 2: Skepticism.) Written in clear language, with classic philosophical texts as supplemental readings, this is a great guide to help you navigate the beginning of your philosophical journey.

Allen Mendenhall is the editor of The Southern Philosopher: Collected Essays of John William Corrington. He is associate dean of Thomas Goode Jones School of Law and executive director of the Blackstone & Burke Center for Law & Liberty. He edits the Southern Literary Review and has authored hundreds of publications in law reviews, peer reviewed journals, magazines, newspapers, literary periodicals, and encyclopedias. His other books include Literature and Liberty (2014) and Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., Pragmatism, and the Jurisprudence of Agon (2017). He lives in Auburn, Alabama, with his wife and two children.

September 8th is International Literacy Day!

“Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope…Literacy is a platform for democratization, and a vehicle for the promotion of cultural and national identity…Literacy is, finally, the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realize his or her full potential,” said Kofi Annan.

We wanted to share this quote with you because today is International Literacy day! There are many reasons to support and promote literacy, but most importantly, because it is a fundamental right for all individuals.

To lead, one must read.

 To become a sophisticated leader, one must have the desire to continuously learn more. Reading allows a person to become enlightened on a subject that may have been foreign before. Also, reading generates conversations about foreign concepts which could lead to greater insight.

Literacy education is not offered to all individuals.

 Sadly, literacy education is not being taught in all areas of the world. According to Literacy Worldwide, 781 million people cannot read or write. On a smaller scale, the Literacy Project Foundation claims that 45 million Americans are illiterate and cannot read above a fifth grade level. These alarming statistics reveal the importance of promoting literacy so that all members of society have an equal chance of succeeding.

It is easy to get involved.

 One simple search on the Internet can provide several ways to get involved with the promotion of literacy education. An example of local scale opportunities is the Lumpkin County Literacy Coalition which encourages concerned individuals to become a tutor or volunteer at one of their events. The organization hosts several events throughout the year, one major event being the Dahlonega Literary Festival. The free festival is hosted in downtown Dahlonega and serves as a chance for readers to interact and mingle with several authors from all different genres.

The organization believes that literacy can solve a community’s issues, such as poverty, unemployment, and high school dropout rates.

Literacy is an all-inclusive concept, and if we all participated in its promotion, the world would be a happier and successful place.

What do you do to promote literacy in your community?