Distinguished Nonfiction Writer and Essayist to Read at Holy Cross as Part of Working Writers Series

November 6th, 2012 by David Cotrone ’13

Joe Mackall, esteemed essayist, editor and nonfiction writer, will give a reading as part of the Working Writers Series on Thursday, Nov. 8 at 7:30 p.m. in Rehm Library at the College. The event, sponsored by the College’s Creative Writing Program, is free and open to the public.

Mackall is the author of two books: “Plain Secrets: An Outsider Among the Amish” (Beacon Press, 2007) and “The Last Street Before Cleveland: An Accidental Pilgrimage”(University of Nebraska Press, 2006), and he is the co-editor of the “River Teeth Literary” Nonfiction Book Prize series.

Called “wonderful and enlightening” by Booklist, Mackall’s “Plain Secrets” is an account of the Shetlers, an Amish family living in the Swartzentruber Amish community of Ashland County, Ohio. Living without gas, electricity or indoor plumbing, the Shetlers are composed of Samuel and Mary, their nine children and their extended family. Recounting his time in Swartzenruber, Mackall writes with an eye towards further understanding matters of community, identity and modernity. Says the San Francisco Chronicle: “The book takes us inside a very private world, plus it’s a wonderful manual on how [people] of different faiths can be good friends, even when they don’t always agree on fundamental issues.”

Mackall, who earned his Ph.D. from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, his M.F.A. in fiction from Bowling Green University and his B.A. from Cleveland State University, has had his essays appear in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and on National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition.”

The director of the Creative Writing Program and professor of English at Ashland University, Mackall is the co-founder and editor of River Teeth: A Journal of Nonfiction Narrative.

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