Confessions & Whereabouts: Tuscaloosa According to Oliu and Others

12 Apr

Tuscaloosa Runs This
Anthology, 260pgs
$12 | Broken Futon Press

I got to spend the better part of last week skirting around the South with Brian Oliu, Tyler Gobble, and Matt Bell on our Over the Top Reading Tour. We read first at the Green Bar in Tuscaloosa, and spent the next day taking in the city, relaxing before we set off for Atlanta the next day. That afternoon, Tyler and I went to Bowers Park for a round of disc golf, our drive unknowingly taking us through a part of Tuscaloosa still working to rebuild itself after the tornadoe that tore through the city last year.

I want to tell you all the news: about the rubble that still sits in piles and the trees still recovering their leaves, their limbs. But that’s really not what Tuscaloosa is. It never was.

After the tornadoes were gone, Brian went to work on an eBook project called Tuscaloosa Runs This full of Tuscaloosa writers writing about Tuscaloosa. In Brian’s own words, “The quality of the people of Tuscaloosa is only matched by the quality of their writing. Here, we have some amazing work from amazing people—all with our city on our minds and in our hearts. Some of the work has been written long before late April, other pieces written shortly after the storm.”

Recently, with the help of some local businesses, that eBook was released in a beautiful print version, which seems particularly appropriate, similar to the new shops and houses and storefronts rising up from the idea of rebuilding, here is this tangible object, this book, from the ideas and hearts of these Tuscaloosans. Proceeds from the book go to support the rebuilding.

While gathering and organizing the book, Brian wrote an incredible reintroduction to it, which you can read in its entirety over at PANK, and which I highly encourage you to do.

Before that, let me tell you about ways in. The doorways in Tuscaloosa are small, smaller than anywhere I’ve ever lived, small to the point that my shoulders brush against them if I am not careful enough, small like the sides of a metal detector at the airport, small to the point where every doorway reminds me of leaving. When do I stand between the doorjambs? The tricks of disaster escape me: bathtubs? lie on the floor? get in a closet? As I spill soup, as I watch lights flash in a stadium where it is after dark, I watch it on the futon—a mess of metal wires and lacquered wood, like sitting on a knocked down fence, a taupe pillow on top that has thinned out from sitting here, day after day typing, eating, watching football, pressing buttons to swing our sword.

Roll tide!

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