(By Tad Bartlett)
Marchers’ Season is a story about fathers and sons, and the price of trying to create rootedness in a rootless modern world, all against the backdrop of intransigent race relations in post-integration small Southern towns in the late 20th century. It focuses on Gray Alsobrook and the life he’s trying to build in the fictional town of Meadowview, Alabama, though the central event is a series of protests that Gray’s son, Joe, is involved in.
Marchers’ Season actually occurs midway through a series of short stories I’ve written with Joe Alsobrook as the POV character, seven of which have been published by various journals. These “Joe stories” drop in on Joe’s life at various points. I like to think of them, taken together, as being to written fiction and Alabama what Richard Linklater’s Boyhood is to film and Texas, watching one kid grow up and the changes in his environment as seen through that shifting lens of growing up. To read most of the Joe stories surrounding Marchers’ Season, you can follow these links, chronologically, through Joe’s childhood and into early adulthood:
- “Tree Houses,” The Carolina Quarterly (Chapel Hill, N.C.) (April 2015) (Joe at 11 years old)
- “Hung Over,” Rappahannock Review (Fredericksburg, Va.) (Feb. 2014) (Joe at 12 years old)
- “Addressing You,” Euphony Journal (Chicago, Ill.) (Spring 2015) (Joe, first semester of senior year of high school)
- Marchers’ Season, Storylandia (Los Angeles, Ca.) (Issue 26, Aug. 2018) (Joe, second semester of senior year of high school)
- “Riding in Cars at Night,” Eunoia Review (Singapore) (Aug. 2016) (Joe, first semester, sophomore year of college)
- “The Non-Artists,” Mulberry Fork Review (Hanceville, Al./Glasgow, Scotland/Vancouver, Can.) (April 2016) (Joe, second semester of sophomore year through first semester of junior year of college)
- “Flock Apart,” Litbreak (New York City) (Nov. 2019) (Joe, summer between sophomore and junior years of college)
- “Birmingham Breakdown,” Stockholm Review of Literature (Stockholm, Sweden) (Jan. 2016) (Joe, two years following college)
The series of Joe stories are all a precursor to a collaborative novel I wrote with long-time friend and fellow Peauxdunquian, J.Ed. Marston, called The Mostly Honest Confabulations of Joe Alsobrook and Spruce Newell (short list, Faulkner-Wisdom award, novel category, 2015).
Also of note, of all the Joe stories (and all the fiction I’ve written, because there actually have been non-Joe stories), Marchers’ Season is the most directly inspired by actual events, based loosely on a series of protests in Selma, Alabama, in 1990 over the non-renewal of the contract of the Selma City School System’s first black superintendent, Dr. Norward Roussell. For all the similarities, though, Marchers’ Season is fiction.