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In Limestone Country by Scott Russell Sanders

Nothing makes the commonplace come alive quite like the work of a skilled writer. I’ve lived in limestone country all my life. I’ve heard the stories of how our stone built some of the great public buildings in America and brought prosperity to our area in the early twentieth century. Today, limestone monuments can be seen on buildings and in graveyards throughout Lawrence and Monroe counties. Porches, like mine, made of limestone. Enormous blocks sitting at the edges of quarries. It’s a common sight—but Sanders has helped me see it with new eyes.

The book itself is almost forty years old. It’s a look into the past from a vantage point that itself is now passed. The book’s portrait of the limestone country of its own time is one I remember from my childhood. My hometown and the towns around me are portrayed as towns in decline—and I remember those days as being days of greater prosperity and activity than today. It’s like reading Hesiod describing the ages of humanity, in which he places his own time as the latest and most degraded. Yet we see Hesiod’s Greece as a golden age. It’s always the apocalypse somewhere.

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