Indigo: Arm Wrestling, Snake Saving, and Some Things In Between (Paperback)

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The first collection of nonfiction by "one of the few truly important American writers of our time" (Sam Lipsyte).

Gathering pieces written during the past three decades, Indigo ranges widely in subject matter and tone, opening with “Cleve Dean,” which takes Padgett Powell to Sweden for the World Armwrestling Federation Championships, through to its closing title piece, which charts Powell’s lifelong fascination with the endangered indigo snake, “a thinking snake,” and his obsession with seeing one in the wild.
“Some things in between” include an autobiographical piece about growing up in the segregated and newly integrated South and tributes to writers Powell has known, among them Donald Barthelme, who “changed the aesthetic of short fiction in America for the second half of the twentieth century,” and Peter Taylor, who briefly lived in Gainesville, Florida, where Powell taught for thirty-five years. There are also homages to other admired writers: Flannery O’Connor, “the goddesshead”; Denis Johnson, with his “hard honest comedy”; and William Trevor, whose Collected Stories provides “the most literary bang for the buck in the English world.”
A throughline in many of the pieces is the American South—the college teacher who introduced Powell to Faulkner; the city of New Orleans, which “can render the improbable possible”; and the seductions of gumbo, sometimes cooked with squirrel meat. Also here is an elegy for Spode, Powell’s beloved pit bull: “I had a dog not afraid, it gave me great cheer and blustery vicarious happiness.”
In addressing the craft of fiction, Powell ventures that “writing is controlled whimsy.” His idiosyncratic playfulness brings this collection to vivid life, while his boundless curiosity and respect for the truth keep it on course. As Pete Dexter writes in his foreword to Indigo, “He is still the best, even if not the best-known, writer of his generation.”

About the Author

Padgett Powell is the author of six novels, including The Interrogative Mood and Edisto, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and three collections of stories. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, and The Paris Review, as well as in The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Sports Writing. He has received a Whiting Award, the Rome Fellowship in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the James Tait Black Prize for Fiction.

Praise For…

"Memorable reflections on writing and life from an author who pulls no punches." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"[A] winning collection of essays . . . With infectious curiosity and sympathy, Powell covers literature, sports, and the American South . . . Powell’s prose is razor-sharp, and locales such as New Orleans and Bermuda come alive through his shrewd eye and distinctive storytelling. His insightful observations on the craft and teaching of writing are a bonus. This will delight Powell’s fans and should gain him some new ones, too." —Publishers Weekly

"Indigo, like all Powell's writing, has a kind of radiance, wild joy, and cantankerous sympathy. In the firmament of modern writing, he's in his own constellation." –-Alec Wilkinson, staff writer for The New Yorker, author of Moonshine and The Ice Balloon

"Indigo is such a great book—somehow all at once an ars poetica, memento mori, and self-portrait in a convex mirror." —David Shields, author of Reality Hunger and The Thing About Life Is That Someday You'll Be Dead

Indigo is an excellent book, which I loved. Apart from the expected Padgett Powell things—acuity, comedy, sudden 3D-image-infliction—it develops the character of the essayist over the course of all the pieces in a way that's not un-novel-like." —Adam Levin, author of The Instructions and Bubblegum

Praise for Padgett Powell:

"I have just come off of reading Cries for Help, Various, and I am changed. I am indoctrinated. I am a disciple. I am an earnest, resignedly bewildered, fan. . . . A few of these pieces are the kind of ecstatic exercise that some will decry as decidedly not short stories in the classical sense, and others, if you deign to peer beneath the frenetic lunacy, are built with such steel-forged structures that even narrative purists will find them sound." —Los Angeles Review of Books
Product Details
ISBN: 9781646220052
ISBN-10: 1646220056
Publisher: Catapult
Publication Date: November 9th, 2021
Pages: 272
Language: English