Charming Southern Essays Reminiscent Of Mark Twain In Of Bees & Boys
MONTGOMERY, AL – From the editor of the Southern Literary Review comes a treasure trove of short essays for modern readers with an appreciation for days gone by, and curiosity about those to come. In Allen Mendenhall’s beautiful collection OF BEES & BOYS (Red Dirt Press, June 2017) you’ll find themes that range the gamut of human feeling, all written with the grit and panache of this unusual writer. A modern Renaissance man, his writing is influenced by his unusual experiences which include: living in Japan, surviving cancer in his 20’s with a less than 15% expectation to live, his work as an attorney and through this, prison educator, and of course, the strongest current that runs through this book is his Southern upbringing and sense of identity.
His childhood recollections and modern encounters all play into this brilliant little book, and a sharp sense of humor shines through so brightly that even his ponderings on death and dying have delightful bits of comedy injected into the prose. Anecdotes that make excellent topics for interview discussion or rambling reviews include:
- Personal insights from family connections into Truman Capote and Harper Lee in Harper Lee and Words Left Behind (Attitcus inspired him to become a lawyer)
- Death and Dying: The Sunday morning obit reading required by his father, the unlikely death scenes he remembers from childhood, and later his own cancer struggle are all explored in Unmasking. Mendenhall writes eloquently, “My Southern upbringing was all about learning how to die. Like the Greek Stoics, Southerners believe in cultivating virtue, improving life, and accepting mortality.”
- His many humorous tidbits such as, “Most female bees, unlike most female humans I know, grow their leg hairs long and their bellies plump,” from Of Birds & Bees
- A graduate school course with a deaf classmate which leads him to ponder the experiences of others and how community is necessary to justice. “[...] By helping one another, we limit limitations, both our own and others’. There’s justice in that, to the that extent justice is, as I believe, bound up with reciprocity.” from Power Made Perfect in Weakness
From his anthropological fascination with culture to his commitment to self-edification, Mendenhall charms and inspires readers. This thoughtful man claims he “has grown boring” as a dinner party guest through his commitment to the law, when certainly, this treasure trove of essays will convince you that Mendenhall has done anything but.
ALLEN MENDENHALL is the Associate Dean and Executive Director of the Blackstone & Burke Center for Law and Liberty at Faulkner University and the author of Literature and Liberty: Essays in Libertarian Literary Criticism (2014). He has been featured in Forbes, U.S. News and World Report, Newsweek, The American Spectator, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and more. He has appeared on the BBC World News, Al Jazeera, and Alabama Public Television, and has a monthly show on Fox News Affiliate WFPA 1400 AM. He is the editor of the Southern Literary Review. He received his B.A. in English from Furman University, M.A. in English from West Virginia University, J.D. from West Virginia University College of Law, LL.M. in transnational law from Temple University Beasley School of Law, and Ph.D. in English from Auburn University. This is his third book. Learn more at AllenMendenhall.com.