Political pundits never tire of reminding us of the great cultural divide between conservative “red” states and liberal “blue” ones. But common sense tells us that not all people in these states can be politically like-minded. David Starkey, a former red-state resident, wondered what politically progressive creative writers were feeling in the wake of George W. Bush’s reelection. How, Starkey asked contributors, does one live blue in a red state.
This book supplies many answers. Writers as different as Jonis Agee and Stephen Corey, Robin Hemley and Lee Martin (a 2006 Pulitzer Prize finalist in fiction), Donald Morrill and Wyoming poet laureate David Romtvedt describe what it is like to live in a region that doesn’t always share one’s values. While pointedly progressive, the collection brings together the work of essayists who look beyond the passions of the moment—the war in Iraq, the rallying of the Right around social issues, the Democrats’ failure in 2004—to the need for unity. Sometimes humorous, sometimes poignant, always enlightening, these essayists’ views testify to the power of writing to bring us together as one nation of whatever color.