Cover image for A region not home : reflections from exile
A region not home : reflections from exile
McPherson, James Alan, 1943-2016.
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster, [2000]

Physical Description:
315 pages ; 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3563.A325 R4 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Elbow Room--an esteemed short story writer and essayist--offers a powerful and graceful collection of his ruminations.

Author Notes

James Alan McPherson Jr. was born in Savannah, Georgia on September 16, 1943. He received a bachelor's degree from Morris Brown College in 1965, a law degree from Harvard Law School, and a master of fine arts degree from the Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa.

While still in law school, he won a contest sponsored by The Atlantic Monthly magazine for a semi-autobiographical short story called Gold Coast. His first short story collection, Hue and Cry, was published in 1969. His next anthology, Elbow Room, won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1978. He also wrote memoirs including Going Up to Atlanta and Crabcakes. In 1981, he was among the first 21 people who received what became known as genius awards from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. He taught at the University of Virginia and the Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa. He died from complications of pneumonia on July 27, 2016 at the age of 72.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

McPherson follows up on his popular Crabcakes (1998) with another collection of thoughtful essays: some new, some previously published in such journals as Ploughshares, Atlantic Monthly, and Esquire. As in much of his work, the Pulitzer Prize^-winner weaves in his own journey (from the segregated South to early work experiences to Morris Brown College to Harvard Law School to the University of Virginia to the Iowa Writers' Workshop) and the work of writers, ancient and modern, who intrigue him into his reflections on the recent experience of African Americans and, indeed, of all Americans. Whether his subject is Ralph Ellison's Juneteenth or Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, the pain of divorce or the pleasures of Disneyland, Othello or Orenthal James Simpson, McPherson offers flashes of unexpected insight; his path often twists and turns, but his side trips are well worth the time and effort. Appropriate wherever McPherson's previous collections of essays and short stories have circulated. --Mary Carroll

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this unified collection of cultural and personal essays, Pulitzer Prize- winning fiction writer (Elbow Room) and essayist McPherson probes how physical, emotional and moral distance challenge society and its individuals. In essays such as "Disneyland," "Ukiyo" and "On Becoming an American Writer" (some of which have appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, Esquire and elsewhere), he retraces his life's steps from Georgia to Cambridge, Iowa, California and back to Iowa, detailing how his decisions, based on need and principle, nonetheless resulted in estrangements, a messy divorce and bicoastal parenting of his beloved daughter, Rachel. (The image of the author throwing her a rose at graduation, then fleeing to Iowa, is lovely and sad.) Throughout, there's an easy kitchen-table quality to McPherson's style that invites the reader: Sit down, I've got a tale--I used to live in California... or, I wrote an e-mail to my daughter... or, There's a homeless man at a mall in Palo Alto.... Then come the shifts in time, discussions of Shakespeare, analyses of racism, reports on current issues like impeachment and O.J. Simpson, all melding together and leading to a realization that ours is a morally lacking society that substitutes "material goods for spiritual ones" and makes "litigation... our only source of civility." McPherson rejects this society, living instead in a "floating world" of like-minded individuals that substitutes as his "hometown." Yet he yearns for a time of "spiritual civility" for blacks and others, and exhorts people to work toward it. Neither abstract analyses nor observational reveries, these are essays on how to live. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

McPherson (Elbow Room; Crabcakes) teaches at the Iowa Writer's Workshop. His work has been featured repeatedly in Best American Short Stories and Best American Essays. Among his awards he can count a MacArthur Fellowship and a Pulitzer Prize. This latest collection of essays does not disappoint. The topics range from Ralph Ellison to Mark Twain, from daughter Rachel to brother Richard, from Disneyland to fraternity pledge week, and from a message on a beggar's sign to what it means to grow up black in America. McPherson's topics, in other words, can be anything. It is the breadth of perspective and quality of thought and writing that set his work apart. He draws upon classical antiquity, sociology, Japanese culture, literary theory--whatever he needs to cast the right light on his thinking and experience. He doesn't so much resolve the issues he raises as illuminate their complexity and set them in context. Recommended for both public and academic libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 8/99.]--Mary Paumier Jones, Westminster P.L., CO (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.