This coming Sunday, authors Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank will be hosting a discussion of their new book, Red State Rebels: Tales of Grassroots Resistance in the Heartland, at the Illini Union Bookstore at 2 p.m. Red State Rebels is a collection of essays from various authors describing modes of activism in middle America. St. Clair kicked off their book tour with a date in Bloomington, Indiana on Wednesday night. He and Frank were kind enough to answer some questions:
Smile Politely: How did your first appearance go in Bloomington last night? Any significance to that being the site of your appearance on the book’s release date?
Jeffrey St. Clair: Is there a better place for opening day than summer in Bloomington, where rednecks and eggheads converge in hop-induced harmony at Nick’s on Kirkwood? Besides, I’m from Indiana and two of our contributors and one of our subjects resided there.
SP: Are you in this area between appearances, or are you zipping out and back in?
Joshua Frank: Jeff and I will be in Chicago on Saturday for an event, and then cruising down to Champaign-Urbana on Sunday morning. Then off to Minneapolis and Montana. You know, where the real radicals reside.
JSC: I drove through Iowa and Illnois to view shock and awe show put on by Mother Nature over the last month. We are migrating across the Great Plains in search of reliable WiFi without having to debase ourselves by hooking up to a hotspot at Starbucks. Truck stops aren’t bad. But Super 8 Motels are hard to beat.
SP: Will the book be on shelves at mainstream shops like the Illini Union?
JF: I sure hope it will, and if people ask their local bookstores to carry it, they’ll order it in.
JSC: The book will be there on the scruffiest shelves of the store, out in the hinterlands of oddball books.
SP: What’s the motivation for compiling the book now? How did the idea come about?
JF: Jeffrey and I both feel that there are a lot of great rebellious activities going out there that the fly-over press doesn’t cover. From environmental activism in Utah, to anti-GM farming in North Dakota, there’s a spirit of resistance alive and well in the heartland. We felt these stories needed to be told, so we did our best to compile a lot of wonderful essays to tell the true story out here.
JSC: There are huge battles taking place in the heart of the country, where the corporate elites and faux-fundamentalist politicos believe they can act with impunity. This book is a shot across their bow. Duck and cover.
SP: Are there any stories in the book with roots in Illinois?
JF: There aren’t any stories that originate in Illinois, per se. But we do have a lot of stories that originate in the Midwest.
SP: What will be the format of the event on Sunday?
JF: It’ll be a little talk that reflects the book. Jeffrey also just wrote a great environmental book titled Born Under a Bad Sky, so he’ll be talking about that as well. Hopefully we’ll have a lively Q and A too.
SP: The non-GM story sounds interesting; are any of the stories about livestock farming?
JF: Not on livestock farming per se, although Jeffrey has an excellent piece on hogfarms in Indiana, where he grew up.
The Illini Union Bookstore is located at 809 S. Wright St. in Campustown.