Writing from the Center is about one very fine writer’s quest for a meaningful and moral life. The center he seeks and describes is geographical, emotional, artistic, and spiritual – and it is rooted in place. The geography is midwestern, the impulses are universal. Where and how do we find meaning? Where does a writer find inspiration? How can personal, artistic, family, and community needs be blended to create a harmonious life? What aids exist in such a “located” life against despair? How should a writer relate to and represent his place? Twelve interrelated essays probe these questions from different perspectives. “Buckeye” examines the resonance of objects and the mysteries of relationships and death. “Imagining the Midwest” surveys how other writers have seen and related to their region. “The Common Life” makes an eloquent case for community values. “Sanctuary” is an eloquent and painful consideration of environmental degradation. “Writing from the Center” and “Letter to a Reader” deal with Sanders’s decisions to locate in the Midwest, to know his place, and to write about it in both fiction and nonfiction.
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