Interior States: Essays (Paperback)
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"Meghan O'Gieblyn's deep and searching essays are written with a precise sort of skepticism and a slight ache in the heart. A first-rate and riveting collection."
A fresh, acute, and even profound collection that centers around two core (and related) issues of American identity: faith, in general and the specific forms Christianity takes in particular; and the challenges of living in the Midwest when culture is felt to be elsewhere.
What does it mean to be a believing Christian and a Midwesterner in an increasingly secular America where the cultural capital is retreating to both coasts? The critic and essayist Meghan O'Gieblyn was born into an evangelical family, attended the famed Moody Bible Institute in Chicago for a time before she had a crisis of belief, and still lives in the Midwest, aka "Flyover Country." She writes of her "existential dizziness, a sense that the rest of the world is moving while you remain still," and that rich sense of ambivalence and internal division inform the fifteen superbly thoughtful and ironic essays in this collection. The subjects of these essays range from the rebranding (as it were) of Hell in contemporary Christian culture ("Hell"), a theme park devoted to the concept of intelligent design ("Species of Origin"), the paradoxes of Christian Rock ("Sniffing Glue"), Henry Ford's reconstructed pioneer town of Greenfield Village and its mixed messages ("Midwest World"), and the strange convergences of Christian eschatology and the digital so-called Singularity ("Ghosts in the Cloud"). Meghan O'Gieblyn stands in relation to her native Midwest as Joan Didion stands in relation to California - which is to say a whole-hearted lover, albeit one riven with ambivalence at the same time.
About the Author
MEGHAN O'GIEBLYN is a writer who was raised and still lives in the Midwest. Her essays have appeared in Harper's Magazine, n+1,The Point, The New York Times, The Guardian, The New Yorker, Best American Essays 2017, and the Pushcart Prize anthology. She received a B.A. in English from Loyola University, Chicago and an MFA in Fiction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband.
"One of the most consistently absorbing collection of essays I've read in a long time. Meghan O'Gieblyn is at times rueful, at times hard-hitting, but hers is a distinctly independent-minded and nuanced voice."
"Armed with a crackling intellect, a dry wit, and a lucid, precise prose style, O’Gieblyn shows how difficult it is to truly leave behind the faiths we once inhabited... [An] insightful and poignant debut."
—Jospeh Kuhn, The Rumpus
"Consistently, exquisitely though-provoking... the collection of essays is at once challenging and lyrical, and portrays a nuanced, complicated look at faith, secularism, and evangelical culture in 2018."
—Minneapolis Star Tribune
"An essayist of uncommon vision... [O'Gieblyn] displays a knack for noting the traces of the religious in the supposedly secular, as well as the inverse... An inquiry into the very heart of contemporary American life."
—Nathan Goldman, Los Angeles Review of Books
"[A] delightful debut... well-crafted and enjoyable... [O'Gieblyn's] individual essays flow due to the moving prose, her sense of irony, and her deep insight into and affection for her topics."
"What we need is a new literature of empathy, a canon that is more representative of the people who make up the country. Such a canon would include Interior States... If we are fortunate, we will all doubt everything we have been told and have the opportunity to redefine ourselves. At her best, O’Gieblyn offers a guide book about how to survive such a time."
—Don Kelly, Spectrum Culture
"A unique compendium of contemplative musings... thought provoking... A solid choice for intellectually curious readers."
"Often stunning, always measured... a wry, ambitious catalog of what happens when a writer abondons belief yet retains a religious language and latitude... O'Gieblyn is a writer worth trusting, a writer who audaciously, and stylistically, seeks truth."
—Nick Ripatrazone, The Millions
"O'Gieblyn's contemporary, hip voice is one people need to hear."
"Genuinely empathetic... [O'Gieblyn] conjures midwestern angst... with humor and dread... Other themes she considers with grace, wit, and compassion."