Pittsburgh's newest alternative weekly, Pittsburgh Current, has taken up the Wideman Challenge with three pieces on John Edgar Wideman in one issue:
First, Pittsburgh Current staff writer and editor Jody DiPerna writes a bit about Wideman's legacy in books and in Pittsburgh, and interviews Homewood librarian Denise Graham:
[Graham on Writing to Save a Life]: “'The depth of the research he did to find out about this man that nobody knows about....Everybody knows about [Emmett Till's] mom taking that stand to make sure the casket was open. But nobody knows about the sad and almost tragic life his dad had. I like the depth of his research. He turned this forgotten person into a person.'"
PEN Prison Writing Award winner Eric Boyd reviews Brothers and Keepers, including the new afterword by Robert Wideman:
"....throughout Brothers and Keepers, Wideman examines the power of language and the ways it is lacking: the origins of the word jail, the impossibility of making prisoners invisible from society, and the unstoppable force of time itself...."
And Allegheny County Jail writing teacher Michael Bennett shares an essay on his students' reaction to reading The Homewood Books and getting a visit from Wideman himself:
"In fiction, Tommy is never caught or sent to prison. He finds safe haven behind the house of the old woman at the top of Brushton Hill who offers him food in exchange for yard work and his company. The students could easily identify — they all knew what it was like to run from police, scared for their lives."
Keep the conversation going! Take the Wideman Challenge as a reader, reviewer, editor, bookseller, librarian, or book club. Read John Edgar Wideman, and stay tuned for more reviews.