For their new book, State By State: A Panoramic Portrait of America, Matt Weiland and Sean Wilsey asked 51 writers, from George Packer to Ha Jin, Anthony Bourdain to Jhumpa Lahiri, to follow these directions:
Tell us a story about your state, the more personal the better, something that captures the essence of the place. Not the kind of story one hears in a musty lecture hall or one reads in the dusty pages of an encyclopedia. The kind of story the enlisted soldier tells his boot-camp bunkmate about back home. The kind of story, wistful and wise, that begins, "Well, I don't know about you, but where I come from..."
The result: a collection of short essays, modeled after similar guides from the 1930s, published by the Works Progress Administration.
We're asking you to follow Weiland and Wilsey's instructions. Give us a 100-word story about your state. (You can leave it as a comment here, for consideration — and for peer review.) On tomorrow's show, we'll talk to Wilsey, and to some of the men and women who contributed to his book. We'll also read a few listener stories.