Imagine this unlikely scenario – a Nashville hardcore kid goes off to serve in the Gulf War, all the while honing his literary craft and narrative which was originally informed by none other than Willie himself (more specifically, “Red Headed Stranger”), eventually leading to the publishing of said narrative tales of Southern dread and meandering trauma found within various wars both global and intimate in scale unique only to the South.
Such a scenario is in fact the circuitous unconvention of Odie Lindsey’s pathway to his debut collection of short stories, We Come to Our Senses – so splendidly unique in its muted nature – that it feels as if it was plucked right from one Lindsey’s stories. Stories of jilted lovers passed by, post traumatic conformity, and struggles of existing within and outside of one’s self within the context of a winsome Whitman-esque South.
Lindsey’s stories imbue the muted beauty of the South, steeped in both visceral melancholia and vaunted reverence. A story like So Bored In Nashville, which follows a newly enlisted grunt, whose decision to join is juxtaposed by a final night out with his “sell out” songwriter friend. It’s an engaging and powerful story, which features facets of Nashville’s songwriting circles that would be unknown to non-Nashvillians, yet Lindsey conveys the nature of “the business” in a wonderfully intelligible manner.
We Come to Our Senses offers descriptions of Second Avenue, Broadway, the State capital, and many other locales in their most unflattering, but beguilingly realized terms, offering up a sordid-romanticism akin to the likes of Raymond Carver or Jayne Anne Phillips, all the while maintaining Lindsey’s reverence to the city of Nashville and the South in general.
Odie Lindsey’s Nashville Five
1) Van Vechten Gallery-Fisk University. Nashville’s oldest college holds a first-rate collection of work by African American and African artists. In addition, the Stieglitz Collection—Cézanne, Picasso, Rivera, Hartley, O’Keefe, etc.—is back on display. And Fisk itself is a masterpiece.
2) The Alley Between the Ryman Auditorium and Lower Broad… It’s sappy, perhaps, but loiter there late some night and picture the Opry stars who ducked out of the Mother Church between sets, snuck across that alley, and into the back door of the honkytonks. In a sense, this seam of land conjoins the raucous and pious sides of country.
3) La Fondita Express. Food truck on the TN Motor Enterprises lot, Nolensville Pike. Word is getting out, and I hope it continues to build. The people are great, the asadas are rad, the green salsa is a miracle.
4) Amy Martin’s Backyard Opry. Amy is the stuff of pure bohemianism. Acerbic and hilarious, learned but irreverent, she’s an old-school Nashville native whose gusto dwarfs that of most 20- or 30- or 40-somethings—which is why we all want to hang around her. She hosts ByOs every month or three; bands, beer, proceeds to Planned Parenthood.
5) WXNA! Music City hasn’t been its music city best since Vanderbilt sold WRVU to NPR. Yet with the launch of WXNA, D-Funk is back on air. The Hipbilly Jamboree is back on air. There’s a ton of new, young, weird shit on air that I don’t even know how to listen to, likewise old shit I never wanted to hear. Yes, yes, all of it, yes! Now if they can only reboot Count Bass D and Egon’s 9-1-1 Emergency/Origins of Hip Hop show…
We Come to Our Senses (W.W. Norton, 208 pages) is available now.