• Graceland, At Last

  • Notes on Hope and Heartache From the American South
  • By: Margaret Renkl
  • Narrated by: Joyce Bean
  • Length: 7 hrs and 56 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (29 ratings)

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Graceland, At Last

By: Margaret Renkl
Narrated by: Joyce Bean
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Publisher's Summary

Winner of the 2022 Southern Book Prize

Winner of the 2022 PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay

An Indie Next Selection for September 2021

A Book Marks Best Reviewed Essay Collection of 2021

A Literary Hub Most Anticipated Book of 2021

A Country Living Best Book of Fall 2022

A Garden & Gun Recommended Read for Fall 2021

A Book Marks Best Reviewed Book of September 2021

From the author of the bestselling #ReadWithJenna/TODAY Show book club pick Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss

For the past four years, Margaret Renkl’s columns have offered readers of The New York Times a weekly dose of natural beauty, human decency, and persistent hope from her home in Nashville. Now more than sixty of those pieces have been brought together in this sparkling collection.

“People have often asked me how it feels to be the ‘voice of the South,’” writes Renkl in her introduction. “But I’m not the voice of the South, and no one else is, either.” There are many Souths—red and blue, rural and urban, mountain and coast, Black and white and brown—and no one writer could possibly represent all of them. In Graceland, At Last, Renkl writes instead from her own experience about the complexities of her homeland, demonstrating along the way how much more there is to this tangled region than many people understand.

In a patchwork quilt of personal and reported essays, Renkl also highlights some other voices of the South, people who are fighting for a better future for the region. A group of teenagers who organized a youth march for Black Lives Matter. An urban shepherd whose sheep remove invasive vegetation. Church parishioners sheltering the homeless. Throughout, readers will find the generosity of spirit and deep attention to the world, human and nonhuman, that keep readers returning to her columns each Monday morning.

From a writer who “makes one of all the world’s beings” (NPR), Graceland, At Last is a book full of gifts for Southerners and non-Southerners alike.

©2021 Margaret Renkl and The New York Times Company. (P)2021 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

Critic Reviews

“Joyce Bean's warm, friendly voice is by turns serious and smiling in her excellent narration of Margaret Renkl's insightful new essay collection.… Renkl, who lives in Tennessee, is a detailed observer whether she's watching a flock of sheep "mow" a lawn, considering John Prine's music, or writing an open letter about racism to her fellow white Christians. She blends her private life throughout, giving listeners personal involvement with the essays. Bean's clear, straightforward, and welcoming performance is perfectly in tune with Renkl's mix of intimacy and objectivity.”AudioFile Magazine

"From her home in Nashville—'a blue dot in the red sea of Tennessee'—[Renkl] writes perceptively of the region where she was born and raised (in Alabama), educated (in South Carolina), and settled . . . Renkl vividly evokes the lush natural beauty of the rivers, old-growth forests, 'red-dirt pineywoods,' marshes, and coastal plains that she deeply loves . . . A wide-ranging look at the realities of the South."—Kirkus Reviews 

"New York Times columnist Renkl effectively lifts the lid on the Southern culture and challenges its stereotypes in this versatile compendium. Renkl's essays cover the natural world, local politics, Southern-fried art and culture, and social justice issues from a Nashvillian perspective. Her nature writing shows an impressive predilection for botany and ornithology . . . [Graceland, At Last] serves as a well-written collection for anyone interested in everyday life below the Mason-Dixon Line."—Publishers Weekly 

What listeners say about Graceland, At Last

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Margaret is the best ambassador for Southern life

You’ll love Margaret’s truth. I needed to hear about the other side of the stereotypical southerner.
My only criticism is the reader. Too staccato and not the heartfelt delivery Margaret deserved.

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An Endless Rant

This came recommended as an author who merges, history, Southern topography, and beauty to give context to modern political reality. The listening experience was a most unpleasant rant discussing all that the author perceives as wrong in her state and with the neighbors. Even when I shared her view, I could not stand the spew.