It's possible all the writing I've done over the years has been in some way a response, a pushing back against the isolation and loneliness I felt at sixteen, driving an endless loop between home and school and work, speeding through the rolling country 'burbs of southeastern Wisconsin. There, a farm. There, a subdivision. There, a snowy field. Lots of trees. Another farm. Another subdivision. Endless fields. Growing up in this landscape my edges were smoothed; I was shaped. For me, this landscape was so cold, isolating, lonely. Constantly, I seek warmth, body, connection; I seek community, conversation.
Mulling Rather Than Musing
Perhaps I’m playing into the tropes here, but a Midwestern essay, for me, is one that is derived from a place of great humility. It embraces the “attempt” rather than the answer, ponders rather than pontificates, mulls rather than muses.
B.J. Hollars is the author of several books, including Midwestern Strange: Hunting Monsters, Martians and The Weird in Flyover Country, The Road South: Personal Stories of the Freedom Riders, Opening the Doors: The Desegregation of the University of Alabama and the Fight for Civil Rights in Tuscaloosa, and Thirteen Loops: Race, Violence, and the Last Lynching in America. His latest book, Go West Young Man: A Father and Son Rediscover America on the Oregon Trail, is forthcoming in the fall of 2021. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he teaches English at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.