Interior States: Essays

Interior States: Essays Review

"Meghan O'Gieblyn's deep and searching essays are written with a precise sort of skepticism and a slight ache in the heart. A first-rate and riveting collection."
--Lorrie Moore


A fresh, acute, and even profound collection that centers around two core (and related) issues of American identity: faith, in general and the specific forms Christianity takes in particular; and the challenges of living in the Midwest when culture is felt to be elsewhere.

What does it mean to be a believing Christian and a Midwesterner in an increasingly secular America where the cultural capital is retreating to both coasts? The critic and essayist Meghan O'Gieblyn was born into an evangelical family, attended the famed Moody Bible Institute in Chicago for a time before she had a crisis of belief, and still lives in the Midwest, aka "Flyover Country." She writes of her "existential dizziness, a sense that the rest of the world is moving while you remain still," and that rich sense of ambivalence and internal division inform the fifteen superbly thoughtful and ironic essays in this collection. The subjects of these essays range from the rebranding (as it were) of Hell in contemporary Christian culture ("Hell"), a theme park devoted to the concept of intelligent design ("Species of Origin"), the paradoxes of Christian Rock ("Sniffing Glue"), Henry Ford's reconstructed pioneer town of Greenfield Village and its mixed messages ("Midwest World"), and the strange convergences of Christian eschatology and the digital so-called Singularity ("Ghosts in the Cloud"). Meghan O'Gieblyn stands in relation to her native Midwest as Joan Didion stands in relation to California - which is to say a whole-hearted lover, albeit one riven with ambivalence at the same time.

Title:Interior States: Essays

    Some Testimonial About This Book:

  • Aaron

    One of my favorite living essayists—one of our best writers speaking to faith, secularism, and mystery.On “American Niceness”: “I live in Wisconsin, a place where niceness is so ubiquitous tha...

  • Catie

    "It's a paradox of human nature that the sites of our unhappiness are precisely those that we come to trust most hardily, that we absorb most readily into our identity, and that we defend most vocifer...

  • Jason Scarbrough

    Great book on the midwestern mindset and the author's loss of faith....

  • Alan

    Yet once again, Nervous Breakdown Book Club drags me out of my reading comfort zone into a world of phenomenal essays touching on topics as disparate as John Updike, Christian Music, and Michigan. The...

  • Beth

    4.5 stars. I first encountered Meghan O'Gieblyn in the 2018 edition of the Pushcart Prize, which included her Dispatch from Flyover Country. Thematically, this collection includes mostly thoughts of a...

  • Andrew Bertaina

    This book is particularly salient for people who are interested in the intersection of philosophy, faith, and the larger narrative structures that govern how we conceive of our lives....

  • Marian

    Assigned review TK in October. ...