The Central Library Brown Baggers met virtually on July 16th to discuss Dispatches from Pluto: Lost and Found in the Mississippi Delta by Richard Grant.
Grant, a British travel writer, and his partner Mariah (a library science graduate student) move from NYC to Pluto, Mississippi on a whim. They buy an old house with land in the Mississippi Delta, which comes with inherent home, garden and nature challenges. From the outset it seems like this will be a short adventure, as Grant admits to a nomadic existence. Grant purposefully sets out to get a feel for his new home, meeting his neighbors and learning their stories. Published in 2015, part memoir/part travel/nature writing, the book touches on the impact of the area’s history, poverty, limited employment opportunities and the complexity of race relations in the Delta. Grant also throws in chapters about Parchman penitentiary, local politics, area traditions and limitations of the public school system.
As an outsider, Grant’s British accent seemed to make him novelty and grant him entry into various environments where he inevitably meets a cast of unique characters.
Some Brown Baggers found the book contrived, as if the author moved to Pluto and set up introductions with people in order to write a book. However, most enjoyed reading and learning about a place that few will likely visit. There was much discussion of poverty and systemic racism, and the ways it appears throughout the United States, as well as what being an ‘outsider’ really means, and what privileges and disadvantages this offers one.
Other books mentioned:
The Brown Baggers will meet again virtually on August 20th to discuss Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for details on how to participate from your computer or phone