Midwestern Sensibilities

It often seems as though the literary landscape is divided into two equal halves: there’s New York, and then there’s everywhere else. As someone who grew up far, far from Brooklyn, I take particular pleasure in the emergence of writers who identify with some small part of that second half.

Nikolas Butler is one of those writers. The center of his new novel, Shotgun Lovesongs, is firmly in Wisconsin. (You can read the NY Times review here). Diane Johnson, meanwhile, is known for writing about Americans abroad, but her new memoir, Flyover Lives, traces her own family line back to, among other places, the Midwest. (The NYRB had a review a couple months ago).

Good books are good books, no matter where they’re set. Still. It’s nice to venture west of the Hudson from time to time.