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Green Fields: Crime, Punishment, and a Boyhood Between (Engaged Writers) Paperback – November 16, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-1608010189 ISBN-10: 160801018X

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Cowser (Dream Season) explores the 1979 murder of his former schoolmate Cary Ann Medlin and the trial and eventual execution of her killer, Robert Glen Coe. On the evening of September 1, 1979, eight-year-old Cary Ann disappeared while riding her bike with her stepbrother in Greenfield, Tenn., a town near Cowser's boyhood home. Her body was found less than a day later on the outskirts of town; she'd been raped and stabbed. Authorities quickly arrested Coe, then 23, and he confessed almost immediately. Despite his attorneys' attempts to plead insanity, Coe was sentenced to death. He remained on death row for over two decades while his sentence was appealed, overturned, reinstated, and briefly stayed, until he was finally executed on April 19, 2000, the first execution performed in Tennessee in 40 years. Cowser ably juggles the history of Coe's life and legal battle with his own peripheral connections to the case, raising a powerful examination about the lasting impact of violence and capital punishment in the Deep South. (Nov.)
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Review

"Cowser (Dream Season) explores the 1979 murder of his former schoolmate Cary Ann Medlin and the trial and eventual execution of her killer, Robert Glen Coe. On the evening of September 1, 1979, eight-year-old Cary Ann disappeared while riding her bike with her stepbrother in Greenfield, Tenn., a town near Cowser's boyhood home. Her body was found less than a day later on the outskirts of town; she'd been raped and stabbed. Authorities quickly arrested Coe, then 23, and he confessed almost immediately. Despite his attorneys' attempts to plead insanity, Coe was sentenced to death. He remained on death row for over two decades while his sentence was appealed, overturned, reinstated, and briefly stayed, until he was finally executed on April 19, 2000, the first execution performed in Tennessee in 40 years. Cowser ably juggles the history of Coe's life and legal battle with his own peripheral connections to the case, raising a powerful examination about the lasting impact of violence and capital punishment in the Deep South."—Publishers Weekly
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Product Details

  • Series: Engaged Writers
  • Paperback: 173 pages
  • Publisher: University of New Orleans Press (November 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 160801018X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608010189
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.5 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,949,897 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bob Cowser, Jr.'s first book, DREAM SEASON, published in 2004 by the Atlantic Monthly Press, was a New York Times Book Review "Editor's Choice" and "Paperback Row" selection and was listed among the Chronicle of Higher Education's best-ever college sports books. It garnered further praise in Sports Illustrated, The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune, and on NPR's "Only a Game." His second book, SCOREKEEPING, a collection of coming-of-age essays, was published in October 2006 by the University of South Carolina Press, and his third book GREEN FIELDS, about the 1979 murder of one of his grade school classmates and the execution of her killer in 2000, the first execution in Tennessee in 40 years, was published as part of the Engaged Writers Series at the University of New Orleans Press in November 2010. He is also the editor of WHY WE'RE HERE: NEW YORK ESSAYISTS ON LIVING UPSTATE, published by Colgate University Press in 2010.

Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Cowser grew up in rural west Tennessee, where his parents worked as college English teachers. He graduated summa cum laude from Loyola-New Orleans in 1992 with majors in English and Print Journalism, then earned a Master's in English at Marquette University in 1994 and a PhD in creative writing from the University of Nebraska in 1998.

An academy of American Poets prizewinner and Pushcart Prize nominee, Cowser's work has appeared widely in American literary magazines, including River Teeth, Fourth Genre, The Pinch, the Missouri Review, Prairie Schooner, American Literary Review, Sycamore Review, Brevity, Sonora Review and Creative Nonfiction. He is Professor of English at St. Lawrence University, where he teaches courses in nonfiction writing and later American literature, and an Honored Visiting Graduate Faculty Member with Ashland University's Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts program. He also serves as associate editor of RIVER TEETH: A Journal of Nonfiction Narrative. Cowser lives on the Grasse River in Canton, NY with his wife, Candace, and their sons Jackson and Mason.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Peter Campion on August 14, 2010
Format: Paperback
Bob Cowser Jr. is a superb writer. His prose is transparent and artful in perfect alternation. The story he has to tell about the murder of his young classmate in rural Tennessee is disturbing but vital. Cowser combines memoir, reporting, polemic, and cultural study. He is a genuine heir to Mailer, Baldwin, and Didion. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Ahlstedt on August 21, 2013
Format: Paperback
I live in Tennessee, and of course remember reading the press coverage when the killer in this case was executed. I did not know much about the original crime, however, and so it was very interesting to read this book and fill in some gaps. The author was a child when the crime occurred in the late 1970s, and was acquainted with the victim, an 8 year old girl. His attempt to make some sense of a horrific and senseless crime many years later added a personal touch to the story. I was unaware that there was a much more likely suspect in the crime, and that the two witnesses to the child's abduction picked that suspect out of a police line-up. Not much seems to have been made of that fact, either in the press or by any lawyers in the case. Interesting facts like that, as well as the author's own recollections of the area and time of the crime, made this a very interesting addition to the true-crime field.
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By Aletha on October 9, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a true story, and makes you realize what can happen in small town USA. Don't ever think that this can't happen in your small rural town,, It could be your neighbor.
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By Karen L. Davis on March 6, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I ordered this book to give as a gift to a family member. I have not read the book but have been promised it will be returned to me to read.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By NW TN Mimi on June 12, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
I would not recommend this book to anyone. The author suggests that people didn't know what to do with me so they gave me what i wanted...the death penalty for my daughters killer. As if anyone had that kind of power. He places himself in a position of being knowledgeable about my daughter, her killer, me and the people who empathized with me. In my opinion the author used our lives as a platform for his beliefs....
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