IF MY BOOK: Beware the Tall Grass, Ellen Birkett Morris

Welcome to another installment of If My Book, the Monkeybicycle feature in which authors compare their recently released books to weird things. This week Ellen Birkett Morris writes about Beware the Tall Grass, her new novel out from University of Georgia Press.

If Beware the Tall Grass were a song, it would be Creedence Clearwater Revival’s warning of a bad moon rising as my young protagonist Charlie’s memories of serving in Vietnam spark strange behavior, and the solider Thomas, whose memories Charlie remembers, finds himself pulled deeper into acts of violence.  

If Beware the Tall Grass were a drink, it would Kentucky Bourbon long-aged in barrels that had served a thousand purposes, lived countless lives from storing corn to holding rainwater. The depth of the bourbon’s flavor, smoky and rich, would bring to mind another time, long past, but not forgotten. 

If Beware the Tall Grass were a tree, it would be a Giant sequoia standing in silent witness decade after decade as its branches pierce the heavens reaching for the stars. Its insides would be ringed with layers of growth, each holding the mysteries of times gone by.  

If Beware the Tall Grass were a dress, it would come from Goodwill, having been passed down by generations of women, patched in the worn spots, smelling faintly of patchouli and stained with the tears of its last owner.  

 If Beware the Tall Grass were a sandwich, it would be peanut butter and cucumber on white bread, at first glance a strange mix with two disparate ingredients that pair up in a way that fits perfectly, the smooth salty peanut butter mixing with the cool crispy cucumber. 

If Beware the Tall Grass were a question, it would be asked in the dark of night and echo into the sky, whose stars would sit waiting for the answer.

If Beware the Tall Grass were pottery, it would be Raku, made using the elements of earth, air, fire and water, made beautiful by its imperfections and bursts of color, a testament to the chaos and unruly beauty of life.

Order Beware the Tall Grass here.

ELLEN BIRKETT MORRIS is the author of Lost Girls: Short Stories, winner of the Pencraft Award. Her novel Beware the Tall Grass is the winner of the Donald L. Jordan Award for Literary Excellence. Her fiction has appeared in Shenandoah, Antioch Review, Notre Dame Review, and South Carolina Review, among other journals. Morris is a recipient of an Al Smith Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council. She is also the author of Abide and Surrender, poetry chapbooks. Her essays have appeared in Newsweek, AARP’s the EthelOh Reader, and on National Public Radio. Follow her on X at @ellen_birkett.

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