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Dreamworlds of Alabama

2007
Author:

Allen Shelton

Dreamworlds of Alabama

An evocative remembrance of the beauty and mystery of the rural South

Allen Shelton explores physical, historical, and social landscapes of northeastern Alabama. His homeplace near the Appalachian foothills provides the setting for a rich examination of culture, a place where the language of place and things resonates with as much emotional urgency as the language of humans. Shelton demonstrates how deeply culture is inscribed in the land and in the most intimate spaces of the person—places of belonging and loss, insight and memory.

Dreamworlds of Alabama is a very powerfully written book and a much-needed intervention in academic thought about intensity, place, materiality, and the uncanny (or otherwise excessive) reaches and resonances of what we call meaning.

Kathleen Stewart, author of Ordinary Affects

Wisteria draped on a soldier’s coffin, sent home to Alabama from a Virginia battlefield. The oldest standing house in the county, painted gray and flanked by a pecan orchard. A black steel fence tool, now perched atop a pile of books like a prehistoric bird of prey.

In Dreamworlds of Alabama, Allen Shelton explores physical, historical, and social landscapes of northeastern Alabama. His homeplace near the Appalachian foothills provides the setting for a rich examination of cultural practices, a place where the language of place and things resonates with as much vitality and emotional urgency as the language of humans.

Throughout the book, Shelton demonstrates how deeply culture is inscribed in the land and in the most intimate spaces of the person—places of belonging and loss, insight and memory.

Dreamworlds of Alabama

Born and raised in Jacksonville, Alabama, Allen Shelton is associate professor at Buffalo State College in New York.

Dreamworlds of Alabama

Dreamworlds of Alabama is a very powerfully written book and a much-needed intervention in academic thought about intensity, place, materiality, and the uncanny (or otherwise excessive) reaches and resonances of what we call meaning.

Kathleen Stewart, author of Ordinary Affects

Shelton displays both his impressive narrative gifts as a memoirist and the emotional constraints of academic discourse. Whenever the author relies principally on the power of his own stories, the poignancy of his images, his essays are fiercely gripping.

Kirkus Reviews

Dreamsworlds is a rich, haunting, and often humorous collection of five intertwined essays that ranks with any ‘exile narrative’ I’ve read in years.

Buffalo News

A texture-rich montage of earth, home, and capitalism.

Rain Taxi Review of Books

A fascinating book and in its own right a powerful rumination on history, place, family and belonging. It contains enough compelling personal stories and some frankly beautiful insights and allusions that a thoughtful reader will feel adequately recompensed.

Mobile Press-Register

The descriptions of people and places in this book verge on the poetic in the most positive meaning of that term.

The Decatur Daily

The real importance of Dreamworlds of Alabama is found in the author’s instructions on how to think about our life in order to understand who you are in relation to the rest of the world.

The Anniston Star

Dreamworlds of Alabama is a brave book. . . As memoir it is a moving account of a man who still sees himself in circumstantial exile from his home place, pained by the fact that fading memory rarely sustains him. As sociology it holds up remarkably well, its theories ably supported by similarities in the works of Benjamin (Shelton’s literary forebear, it seems), Proust, Darwin, Kafka, Marx, even Freud — a remarkable European link to the Appalachian heritage of the author. Perhaps the most resonant aspect of the book is its evocation of that Appalachian heritage. It is that cultural landscape with its particular cultural commodities that is the book’s ultimate strength.

Southern Humanities Review

This might be a new literary genre, a sort of narrative imploding inward towards its own theorization instead of unfolding like a story. Or an explosion of earthlike metaphors that is impressive at many instants. . . there is nothing crooked in this text and the fascination is entirely sustained by honesty.

Consciousness, Literature and the Arts