Monday, July 9, 2018

Loka Ashwood

Loka Ashwood is an environmental and rural sociologist at Auburn University. She works with communities to research issues that pertain to agriculture, cancer clusters, land loss, and pollution. Her new book is For-Profit Democracy: Why the Government Is Losing the Trust of Rural America.

Recently I asked Ashwood about what she was reading. Her reply:
While I grew up in the Midwest, I have spent the bulk of the last ten years of my life doing research or living in the South. Accordingly, I thought it high time early this year to invest myself more heavily in its lauded literature. I started with Jean Toomer’s Cane, as good of a place as I could begin, although little did I know it at the time. I then moved on to William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, but stumbled with the abrupt switches between vantages, and the steely eyed view of death and mourning. I’m now just beginning Absalom, Absalom!, which I have taken too more readily. By chance, I picked up Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God at an airport bookstore, and devoured the text over the course of my flight to and fro. Like Dorthy Allison’s Bastard Out of Carolina, the book’s protagonist riveted me.

From more of a writer and less of a reader vantage, I am attempting to better understand why certain memoirs have stuck with me. I am revisiting Rick Bragg’s All Over but the Shoutin’ and Ava’s Man. I had long forgotten that Bragg grew up in Calhoun County, Alabama, which neighbors Cleburne County, where I find myself doing much work currently.

I have so much more reading to look forward to. Suggestions are most welcome and appreciated!
Visit Loka Ashwood's website.

--Marshal Zeringue