Bookmarked with Steve Yarbrough

Sep 23, 2018

Credit Ig Press

On this episode of Arts & Letters, we’ll be featuring writer Steve Yarbrough, who talks about his relationship with Larry McMurtry's seminal novel The Last Picture Show-- a work of literature that left a powerful impression on Yarbrough when he was growing up in the Mississippi Delta.

The Ig Publishing Bookmarked series is a collection of personal narratives about books that have profoundly influenced a renowned writer’s life.   

In his narrative, Yarbrough writes about his own life growing up in the American South and how his experience parallelled with that of the characters of Sonny and Duane in McMurtry's novel. 

Yarbrough writes,

What makes us susceptible to the charms of certain books? This is a question I've pondered a lot lately.  . .  We label books that provided the kind of excitement I was looking for ‘escapist fare.’ Everyone understands that to mean that when we read them, we leave behind the cares of the world--the bills we can't pay, the bosses who dog our steps, the spouses we've fallen out of love with, if we ever loved them to begin with. I was too young to have any of those problems. What I wanted to escape from was a place.

Author Steve Yarbrough
Credit Yarbrough

Steve Yarbrough is the author of eleven books, most recently the novel The Unmade World. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Fiction, the California Book Award, the Richard Wright Award and the Robert Penn Warren Award.

He has been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and is a member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers. The son of Mississippi Delta cotton farmers, Steve Yarbrough is currently a professor in the Department of Writing, Literature and Publishing at Emerson College.

He has two daughters Lena Yarbrough and Antonia Parris--and is married to the Polish writer Ewa Hryniewicz-Yarbrough. They live in the greater Boston area. Steve is an aficionado of jazz and bluegrass music, which he plays on guitar, mandolin and banjo, often after midnight. 

Thank you to musicians, singers and songwriters Amy Garland, and Steve Yarbrough.  Thank you to Stickyz Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicken Shack for keeping music alive and well in Arkansas. 

A special thank you to Johnny Delaware and The Artisanals for sharing music from their self-titled debut album.

Listen to the song "Angel 42" by The Artisanals 

Listen to the song "Blood Still Here in My Veins" by Amy Garland 

Generous funding for this episode was provided by the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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