hero-essays

Essays

GRANTA 35

The Ramada Inn at Shiloh

All I really know about my great-grandfathers is that they tried to kill each other at the Battle of Shiloh. Opponents, one Southern, one not. The Carolina Regular was sixteen; the Volunteer from Ohio had just gone eighteen. Both hailed from semi-prosperous farms, both possessed tenor voices considered notable in parlors back home; both were the eldest of eight. Of course, they did not know each other. Not until much later when they met, united states, in me.

more »
Iowa Writers’ Workshop Alumni Newsletter

Interview with Allan Gurganus from Iowa Writers’ Workshop Alumni Newsletter

Kelly A. Smith Interviews Allan Gurganus, for the Spring 2010 Iowa Writers’ Workshop Alumni Newsletter

more »
The Story from American Public Media

722 Marigold Street: Christmas of ’57

“Over the river and through the woods, To grandfather’s house we go, The horse knows the way, To carry the sleigh, Through the bright and drifting snow, ho.”

Only there was no snow. Our horsepower? Dad’s 1956 Country Squire station-wagon. It nearly knew the way—from our suburban home to the grandparents’ Christmas luncheon, mandatory. But it was never “Grandfather’s house”. Sure, he was alive; yeah, he’d paid for this boxy Victorian; but in 1903, soon as he carried his bride across the threshold, she was letting him live there. So we named it—with a respect resembling fear—“Big Momma’s House”, “Big’s”, “Grand’s.” Or, in Dad’s case, just “Momma’s”.

more »
New Yorker

My Heart is a Snake Farm

I had a snake farm in Florida. Well, Buck really owned it, but I believe I’m still Board Chairlady. Almost overnight, he hand-sculpted a one-stop two-hundred-reptile exhibit right across the road from me here. At first it was very clean. It drew lively crowds from the day it opened: December 24, 1959.

more »