Today I interview Berry Grass
, an essayist with a powerful new collection of linked essays called Hall of Waters
(Operating System, 2019). Grass’s aim is nothing less than to demythologize the American Midwest. Grass wants us to see something like the true history of the land and the culture from which the Midwest arose, one built on systemic racism, exploitation, marginalization, and violence. At the same time, Grass tries to reckon with what it meant for them to grow up, as Grass puts it, “queer and trans in such a toxic environment.” The result is a book that’s dazzling in its variety and steadfast in its vision: to see clearly how the white dominant culture of the Midwest obscures the land to which it laid claim and the nature of who and what it is, all in the hope of a clearer and truer vision of who we are and how we might, in the end, be accountable to ourselves and one another.
Eric LeMay is on the creative writing faculty at Ohio University. His work ranges from food writing to electronic literature. He is the author of three books, most recently
In Praise of Nothing: Essay, Memoir, and Experiments (Emergency Press, 2014). He can be reached at email@example.com.