All posts by jdriggers

James Driggers is a native of North Carolina and a graduate of the University of Georgia; he received his MFA in creative writing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. After working as a film reviewer for the Santa Barbara Independent and as a food and travel writer for Santa Barbara Magazine, he returned to the mountains of North Carolina—teaching writing at UNC Asheville from 2001-2012; he also served as director of creative writing before retiring from the university. He is now teaching writing at Rollins College in Florida. He has also authored two plays, many short stories, some of which have appeared in The Greensboro Review, Rapid River Review, and in the 2010 Saints and Sinners Festival Anthology of new fiction. He currently lives in central Florida, where he is writing a novel set in the world of televangelism and faith healers.

Sometimes you get a review that excites and humbles you as an author.  The greatest joy is not that someone enjoys the book, but they see things you hoped people would see.

Thanks to Hannah Doyle!

on September 4, 2015
Lovesick is a panoply of Southern love stories gone awry, with each of the four novellas offering tragedy, comedy, unusual twists, and yet evoking Southern traditions while turning them on their heads simultaneously. I’m a dark Southern lit junkie and had just read Harry Crews’ A Feast of Snakes before picking up Lovesick, and the two seem to complement each other. A Feast of Snakes (and Harry Crews in general) is often characterized as “grit lit,” whereas Lovesick is Southern gothic with an injection of Shakespearean tragedy.

The first novella, “Butcher, the Baker,” is about a master chef who is forced to work various low-wage jobs cooking plain foods on the railroad and at the Volunteers of America relief house. His talents as a cook seem to rival even Edna Lewis’—look her up if you haven’t—and yet, due to a life of poverty, some jail time, and persistent racism in the South, the reality of living his dream of owning his own bakery continually evades him. The characterization in this story, as in all the others, is amazing. I don’t want to give anything away, so you’ll have to read the rest yourself!

The second novella, “The Brambles,” is another beautiful story about two older sisters living together, despite their warring personalities. The characters seem like brainchildren of Flannery O’Connor, while also reminding me of Grey Gardens and the way family members can control and hold each other back. The novella interweaves gorgeously with all of the other stories as well.

The third novella, “Sandra and the Snake Handlers,” might have been my favorite. I can’t think of many stories with a lone protagonist that succeed in building such suspense. Driggers manages to weave a fascinating, intricate world out of this woman’s loneliness. It’s also interesting the way the novella blends so many of the South’s strange qualities—like snake handling, sexual repression, and hypocritical Christians—into an unusual and gripping narrative.

The fourth novella, “M.R. Vale,” gives this collection its final breath and grace. It is the only story in the collection with a first-person narrative, lending it an extra sense of urgency and intimacy. To me it is the most tragic. It completes the “lovesick” theme—a theme demonstrated by devotion to craft, lust, and mourning throughout the book. I can’t wait to read more of Driggers’ lit!


A great day with the publication of the book. A big thanks to Kensington Publishing and my editor John Scognamiglio, my agent Mitchell Waters for finding the book its perfect home.
Grateful for such generous support. Hope you enjoy the book.