Hogs Will Inherit the Earth: Pinckney Benedict


In partnership with the Fiction Writers Review: the second interview in the Rural Fiction series                            .

Our friends at the The Fiction Writers Review have just published Polly Atwell’s interview with Pinckney Benedict, an extraordinary short story writer whose art meditates on the spaces between hard work, imagination, and the complexities of representing rural culture.

Polly begins her interview with a mix of Artistotle and Appalachia:

What has always impressed me most about Pinckney is the sheer power of his imagination. In workshop, he didn’t often walk us through close readings as other professors did; instead he talked about dreams, about the power of the subconscious, and quoted Aristotle: “With respect to the requirement of art, the probable impossible is always preferable to the improbable possible.” His work exists in the intersection between reality and myth, a place that should be visited rather than described.

And yet it is also work that exists in a specific geographical space—the hills and valleys of Pinckney Benedict’s native West Virginia. As he wrote in the introduction to the anthology Red Holler (Sarabande 2013), “Appalachia is America’s literary id. It is the place where every monstrous or dreamlike thing seems possible, where every carnal fantasy may realize itself unimpeded by human laws, by technology…by the ever‐advancing tide of the generic and the universally familiar.” In this second interview in a series on rural fiction, undertaken in partnership with The Art of the Rural, we talk about the effective use of dialect, wild hogs, and why the dichotomy between literary fiction and genre fiction can be both misleading and dangerous.

Please follow the conversation to the full interview at The Fiction Writers Review.

Photograph above by Laura Benedict.