Glenn Arbery grew up in the small-town South during the Civil Rights era. He attended the University of Georgia before taking his Ph.D. at the University of Dallas. He is the author of Why Literature Matters (ISI, 2001) and the novel Bearings and Distances (Wiseblood, 2015) along with dozens of essays and hundreds of columns. He has edited collections on the genre of tragedy, the Southern critics, and the Confessions of St. Augustine. He now lives and teaches in Wyoming with his wife Virginia.
Bearings and Distances by Glenn Arbery, is a novel of comic ironies and tragic recurrences set in the “post-racial” moment of the American experiment.
In the summer after Barack Obama’s election, Hermia Watson, a scholar of black history, lures the famous (and famously irresponsible) Professor Braxton Forrest back to his hometown in Georgia, using his two daughters as unwitting hostages. Returning alone while his pious wife continues touring Italy, Forrest arrives to the tremblings of his abandoned past and a confrontation with the Furies he thought modernity had left behind. In the course of a few days, Hermia realizes what violent revelations she has begun to unleash about her former lover, her mother, and her own identity—but it is too late to stop what is coming to light.
Arbery revisits the obsessions of the 20th century Southern renaissance in a work that satirizes misconceptions and shallow pieties but takes seriously the wisdom of the Southern literary tradition—and its classical antecedents.
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