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Graceland, at Last: And Other Essays from the New York Times

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For the past four years, Margaret Renkl's columns have offered readers of The New York Times a weekly dose of natural beauty, human decency, and persistent hope from her home in Nashville. Now more than sixty of those pieces have been brought together in this sparkling new collection. "People have often asked me how it feels to be the 'voice of the South, '" writes Renkl in For the past four years, Margaret Renkl's columns have offered readers of The New York Times a weekly dose of natural beauty, human decency, and persistent hope from her home in Nashville. Now more than sixty of those pieces have been brought together in this sparkling new collection. "People have often asked me how it feels to be the 'voice of the South, '" writes Renkl in her introduction. "But I'm not the voice of the South, and no one else is, either." There are many Souths--red and blue, rural and urban, mountain and coast, Black and white and brown--and no one writer could possibly represent all of them. In Graceland, At Last, Renkl writes instead from her own experience about the complexities of her homeland, demonstrating along the way how much more there is to this tangled region than many people understand. In a patchwork quilt of personal and reported essays, Renkl also highlights some other voices of the South, people who are fighting for a better future for the region. A group of teenagers who organized a youth march for Black Lives Matter. An urban shepherd whose sheep remove invasive vegetation. Church parishioners sheltering the homeless. Throughout, readers will find the generosity of spirit and deep attention to the world, human and nonhuman, that keep readers returning to her columns each Monday morning. From a writer who "makes one of all the world's beings" (NPR), Graceland, At Last is a book full of gifts for Southerners and non-Southerners alike.


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For the past four years, Margaret Renkl's columns have offered readers of The New York Times a weekly dose of natural beauty, human decency, and persistent hope from her home in Nashville. Now more than sixty of those pieces have been brought together in this sparkling new collection. "People have often asked me how it feels to be the 'voice of the South, '" writes Renkl in For the past four years, Margaret Renkl's columns have offered readers of The New York Times a weekly dose of natural beauty, human decency, and persistent hope from her home in Nashville. Now more than sixty of those pieces have been brought together in this sparkling new collection. "People have often asked me how it feels to be the 'voice of the South, '" writes Renkl in her introduction. "But I'm not the voice of the South, and no one else is, either." There are many Souths--red and blue, rural and urban, mountain and coast, Black and white and brown--and no one writer could possibly represent all of them. In Graceland, At Last, Renkl writes instead from her own experience about the complexities of her homeland, demonstrating along the way how much more there is to this tangled region than many people understand. In a patchwork quilt of personal and reported essays, Renkl also highlights some other voices of the South, people who are fighting for a better future for the region. A group of teenagers who organized a youth march for Black Lives Matter. An urban shepherd whose sheep remove invasive vegetation. Church parishioners sheltering the homeless. Throughout, readers will find the generosity of spirit and deep attention to the world, human and nonhuman, that keep readers returning to her columns each Monday morning. From a writer who "makes one of all the world's beings" (NPR), Graceland, At Last is a book full of gifts for Southerners and non-Southerners alike.

30 review for Graceland, at Last: And Other Essays from the New York Times

  1. 4 out of 5

    Olive Fellows (abookolive)

    Review forthcoming in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette! (That column about condolence letters was such a tearjerker.)

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ed Tarkington

    Margaret Renkl is a national treasure. I would like to put this book into a time capsule so that thousands of years from now, evidence will remain that even at this late hour, there remained at least one voice of reason and compassion speaking for the vulnerable, the heroic, and most of all, for our fragile planet.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Debbi

    The author's book Late Migrations is one of my favorites. I was hoping for another round of essays in the same vein from her new book. I think it was an unfair expectation. These pieces are editorials that have been compiled under the umbrella of the South (Tennessee} and everything that means. Some of them are wonderful, all of them are short. I love personal essays and nature essays...regional culture and politics not so much. Renkl is a wonderful writer but as a West Coaster many of these pie The author's book Late Migrations is one of my favorites. I was hoping for another round of essays in the same vein from her new book. I think it was an unfair expectation. These pieces are editorials that have been compiled under the umbrella of the South (Tennessee} and everything that means. Some of them are wonderful, all of them are short. I love personal essays and nature essays...regional culture and politics not so much. Renkl is a wonderful writer but as a West Coaster many of these pieces simply did not speak to me.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Chandler

    How refreshing this book was to read! The author has such a way of writing about what it is like to be liberal and living in a red state. To love your southern surroundings but to also recognize it’s history and current faults. There are many of us who find ourselves in the same situation but our voices are not found easily. She is able to put into words what so many of us have tried to do. It was also fun to read about places like Vulcan or the Ave Marie Grotto that are such landmarks in Alabam How refreshing this book was to read! The author has such a way of writing about what it is like to be liberal and living in a red state. To love your southern surroundings but to also recognize it’s history and current faults. There are many of us who find ourselves in the same situation but our voices are not found easily. She is able to put into words what so many of us have tried to do. It was also fun to read about places like Vulcan or the Ave Marie Grotto that are such landmarks in Alabama but often out of staters do not know about. This book has certainly turned me into a new follower of her opinion column in New York Times!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mia

    “I couldn’t tell her that the true miracle will never come until human beings have finally learned to live a better way: in concert with the natural world, and not in domination.” Margaret Renkl is my favorite New York Times writer and I’m sad to say I only discovered her earlier this year when I read her other book, Late Migrations. Now I’m hooked on her writing for life! Graceland, At Last is a collection of her New York Times articles broken down by different subjects. She writes about politi “I couldn’t tell her that the true miracle will never come until human beings have finally learned to live a better way: in concert with the natural world, and not in domination.” Margaret Renkl is my favorite New York Times writer and I’m sad to say I only discovered her earlier this year when I read her other book, Late Migrations. Now I’m hooked on her writing for life! Graceland, At Last is a collection of her New York Times articles broken down by different subjects. She writes about politics, culture, religion, and even the environment. She writes about the south in a way that always transports me back to my rural hometown. Give her writing a chance and you won’t regret it!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Margaret Stewart

    I read Margaret Renkl's columns in the NYT with pleasure. They have the lyrical power to make the entire day better and set my sights on the skies and channel my thoughts. This book is a collection of essays published in the Times, most of which I have not yet read. As my friend recently moved to TN and family members migrated from the West, it won't be long before I travel to the South, using her book as a sort of guide and stopping along the way to take a selfie with Giant chickens and other r I read Margaret Renkl's columns in the NYT with pleasure. They have the lyrical power to make the entire day better and set my sights on the skies and channel my thoughts. This book is a collection of essays published in the Times, most of which I have not yet read. As my friend recently moved to TN and family members migrated from the West, it won't be long before I travel to the South, using her book as a sort of guide and stopping along the way to take a selfie with Giant chickens and other roadside attractions.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Maren Cooper

    I enjoyed everything about this book. First of all, Margaret Renkl is a keen observer of the natural habitat of creatures as well as human beings. This compilation of essays is organized well and affords the reader the opportunity to dig deep into one section at a time. I especially appreciated the depth of her discussion about the South--she challenges her readers not to paint all who live there with the same brush. Nicely done!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    I've enjoyed Renkl's columns when I've come across them in the New York Times, but it was a delight to have them all collected in one place and to learn more about the author. Renkl was born in Alabama and has lived in Nashville for many years. She is a wonderful ambassador for the south that she knows so well; she recognizes its faults yet is full of hope for the future. She writes beautifully about the environment, the particular beauty of southern flora and fauna, but also informs us about in I've enjoyed Renkl's columns when I've come across them in the New York Times, but it was a delight to have them all collected in one place and to learn more about the author. Renkl was born in Alabama and has lived in Nashville for many years. She is a wonderful ambassador for the south that she knows so well; she recognizes its faults yet is full of hope for the future. She writes beautifully about the environment, the particular beauty of southern flora and fauna, but also informs us about interventions to reverse the harm that has been done. For example, I loved hearing about the sheep that are eating invasive species. Other sections of the book include essays about politics, religion, social justice, family, community, arts and culture. Each essay is a gem--as is Renkl herself.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Read this book. If you are a Southerner, you will feel gratitude and pride in one of our own speaking so movingly about this fraught beautiful place. If you hail from elsewhere, you might unlearn some stereotypes about the South, become obsessed with native plants or pollinators, or be reminded to hold your own beloved family close.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jan McManus

    Beautiful writing sensitively crafted. Such a big hearted book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Dkbbookgirl

    Really enjoyed this short stories about the very complicated and beautiful parts of living in the American South!

  12. 4 out of 5

    AJ

    3.5 rounded up

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Enjoyed this collection of the Times articles from an author I first learned to appreciate through her book Late Migrations.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

  15. 5 out of 5

    Margaret Miller

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tina

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jennie Johnson

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kayla

  19. 5 out of 5

    Laurie

  20. 4 out of 5

    Therese Carmona

  21. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

  22. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

  23. 5 out of 5

    Annavita

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Kostrzewski

  25. 4 out of 5

    Katherine Ezell

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Langston Klein

  27. 5 out of 5

    Carol Crosier

  28. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mira

  30. 5 out of 5

    Erica Wright

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