READIN’AT: Creative Nonfiction (Issue 48): Lust, Lies and Bad Behavior: True Stories of Southern Sin

Creative Nonfiction - Issue 48
One of the things I’ve come to love about Pittsburgh is how much this city embraces the written word and the authors who bring stories to life. We’re quite the literary town. As a way to celebrate all things “bookish in the Burgh,” I created “READIN’AT,” my weekly blog column focused on Pittsburgh-based literary works and the writers who call this awesome city home. Look for READIN’AT every Thursday in this space. 

Recently I’ve been reading back issues of Creative Nonfiction, which has quickly become one of my favorite literary journals. It has a national circulation and was founded here in Pittsburgh by Lee Gutkind, who continues at the helm as its esteemed editor. Each issue has a thought-provoking theme, and Spring 2013 was on the concept of “Southern Sin.”

I love Southern literature. Ever since being introduced to Flannery O’Connor’s work in college, I’ve gravitated to this genre. This issue reminded me why I liked this writing so much. I mean, c’mon … the characters in Southern novels and whatnot are simply not to be believed. Here in this issue of Creative Nonfiction, it gets real – because these people are real and as the publication’s tagline says, these are “true stories, well told.”

Indeed. That they are.

Several essays in the “Lust, Lies, and Bad Behavior: True Stories of Southern Sin” issue that stood out to me were:

  • Rachel Michelle Hanson’s “Prism,” which recounts the juxtaposition between an employer’s daughter killed in a dating violence incident and some similarities in the author’s family dynamics;
  • Sonja Livingston’s historical look at “Mad Love: The Ballad of Fred and Allie,” a tragic story of forbidden love;
  • “The Renters,” by poet Chelsea Rathburn, about the author’s financial decision to rent a room in her home to a pair of adulterers in the aftermath of her newly-finalized divorce;
  • “Shacked Up” by Mary Helen Kennerly, about the emotions of telling (and not telling) one’s parents about the decision to move in with a significant other.
  • Michael Copperman’s heartwrenching piece “Harm,” recounting an incident from his days of teaching in the rural public schools of the Mississippi Delta.

Chelsea Rathburn’s piece is my favorite in this issue for its pitch-perfect blend of humor and sadness combined with the parallels of the adulterers and a woman moving forward from a marriage that didn’t work out.

A sinfully delicious literary delight, this issue of Creative Nonfiction.


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