Jason Isbell’s Decoration Day and Stories of Truth

A Jason Isbell song is not just a song; it’s a 3-5 minute novel. His 2013 album Southeastern is being regarded as one of the best (and my personal favorite) albums of the year—primarily because of its beautiful songwriting. Isbell’s whole career has been marked by exceptional storytelling, songs like “Danko/Manuel”, “Chicago Promenade”, and “Codeine” hit me in the same way as the powerful short stories of Flannery O’Connor, Elmore Leonard, or Harry Crews.Like O’Connor, Leonard, and Crews, Isb … [Read more...]

God and Country Music: Stories and Reformation in Outlaw Country

In God and Country Music, Nick Rynerson examines the world of Americana, folk, alt-country, and popular country music.Ever since Hank Williams got kicked out of The Grand Ole Opry, country music has been outlaw music. Well, country music has been a big stew of church songs, traditional rural folk tunes, western cowboy, and ruff, unruly outlaw music. But the outlaw mentality has been one of country music’s most prominent and continual threads.Outlaw country, as a genre, came into its own i … [Read more...]

Living the Epic Drama In Short Stories

Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize in Literature last week. She is the thirteenth woman and first Canadian to win the prize. Munro's award is also significant because she won it, not for a novel, but for being a "master of the contemporary short story." That's pretty cool.When asked why she writes short stories instead of novels, Munro told The Atlantic: So why do I like to write short stories? Well, I certainly didn't intend to. I was going to write a novel. And still! I still come up with … [Read more...]

Tell the Wolves I’m Home: A Deep, Deep Love Story

"God tames us, drawing us into an embrace that asserts at once our uniqueness and our place in a grand cosmic scheme." “Tell me about God,” my daughter says as she wraps her arms around my neck.“Tell me about how you and daddy asked for me and then for baby sister.”This liturgy has become our twilight ritual. A prayer and the “Moon Song,” and the request to “Snuggle me ALL NIGHT LONG!” So I settle in, wrapping her in my arms and her hungry caterpillar quilt, knowing I will head downstair … [Read more...]

God and Country Music: Drive-By Truckers and Narrative Identification

Each week in God and Country Music, Nick Rynerson gives country music a chance and examines the world of Americana, folk, alt-country, and popular country music. If you want a cup of coffee, you go to Starbucks. If you want to mail an envelope, you go to the post office. If you want to see a good movie, you watch something with Ryan Gosling in it. And if you want to hear a good story, you listen to the Drive-By Truckers; at least that is where my mind goes. The Drive-By Truckers are an a … [Read more...]

When Games Matter: Arkham City and Seamless Storytelling

When Games Matter is a weekly exploration by Drew Dixon of meaningful moments in games. Operating under the assumption that games do in fact matter, Drew seeks to highlight those moments that have much to say to say about who we are and the world we live in.If you really examine the story of many of the most successful videogames you will find that they ask a great deal of the player. When playing the average triple AAA title, the player must constantly to suspend her disbelief so as to … [Read more...]