Author Charles D. Thompson Jr. will be at The Jacksonville Center for the Arts in Floyd on Sunday, March 20 at 3 p.m. discussing his most recent book, Border Odyssey. The event is free and open to the public, with a reception to follow.
Border Odyssey is a quixotic, modern-day, too-small-rental-car determined drive toward understanding the U.S.-Mexico divide: all 1,969 miles.
It is former farmer, turned activist, photographer and Steinbeck-inspired author Thompson who makes the trip, sometimes with awe and wide-eyed students, sometimes with comedy, misadventure, and Hope, his wife—all the while pressing on with what he calls the useful fiction of a map: “I needed to go to the place where countless innocent people had been kicked, cussed, spit on, arrested, detained, trafficked, and killed, all for the sake of working in the U.S. for a pittance. I wanted to go where it seemed our fears had superseded our sense of humanity…. It would become clear…the border, la frontera, was more multifaceted and profound than anything we could have invented about it from afar.”
Though observation and meditation, Border Odyssey scopes like no other book the contradictory pulses of the people and towns on both sides. Murders continue along the border during Thompson’s journey, but there is much more to the story than just the violence.
Five centuries of cultural history (indigenous, French, Spanish, Mexican, African American, colonist, and U.S.), wars and legislation fluidly unfold, while meeting incredible people on both sides: “Stories are the opposite of walls: they demand release, retelling, showing, connecting; each image chipping away at boundaries. Walls are full stops, but stories are like commas, always making possible the next clause.”
For information about the Jacksonville Center, visit www.jacksonvillecenter.org.