knoxville news
knoxville news entertainment rss linkedin twitter facebook contact smoky mountains knoxville legal notices travel knoxville sports business knoxville daily sun lifestyle food knoxville daily sun advertising about knoxville daily sun

where i'm writing from by eli cranor Where I’m Writing From: Mom's Knee Surgery
September 23, 2023

Eli Cranor is the critically acclaimed author of Don’t Know Tough and Ozark Dogs.

Cranor can be reached using the “Contact” page at
and found on Twitter @elicranor

I’m writing from my office, real late on Monday night.

I just got done reading to my mom on the phone. When I’m working on a new book, I read to her every night, but we’ve had to miss a few calls lately. Mom had a total-knee-replacement surgery a few weeks back, her second in the last ten years.

I was in college when all of Mom’s miles finally caught up to her the first time. Mom ran the Boston Marathon once. She also competed in more triathlons than I can count. If you’ve ever lived in Russellville, there’s a good chance you’ve seen my mother running, or riding her tandem bike all over town with Dad.

Her first knee surgery put an end to all of that.

I’ll never forget coming home for Christmas Break and seeing Mom sidelined. We went to a Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert that December at what was then called Verizon Arena. When we made it to the front of the building, we were greeted by row after row of concrete steps. Mom didn’t think she could make it. I didn’t either.

So, I carried her.

When I was little, Mom’s favorite book was “Love You Forever.” It’s a story about a mother who sneaks into her son’s room at night and sings, “I’ll love you forever. I’ll like you for always. As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.”

By the book’s conclusion, the son, now a grown man, holds his mother and sings the same song except for the last line, which he changes to: “As long as I’m living, my mommy you’ll be.”

That book sums up how I feel about my mom, Christy Elizabeth Cranor, the daughter of a hustler and a housewife from Forrest City, Arkansas. Even though I hauled Mom up the stairs at that TSO show, she’s the one who’s done most of the carrying over the years especially when it comes to my writing.

Anytime I tell other authors about how I read aloud to my mom, they can’t believe it. There simply aren’t many people out there willing to listen to rough-draft ramblings, night after night.

There aren’t many people who’ve endured two total knee replacements, either.

Mom’s doing much better this time around. I haven’t had to carry her anywhere. She’s already up and moving. But, sometimes, when we talk on the phone, I notice a worried tone that didn’t use to be there, a new concern in her voice. Mom’s pushing 70. You wouldn’t know it to look at her, though, not even this current hobbled version.

“When I have seen by Time’s fell hand defaced/ The rich proud cost of outworn buried age...."

Those are the opening lines of Shakespeare’s 64th Sonnet, a favorite of mine that I recite to my daughter every night before bed. It’s a far cry from the simple, heartwarming message of Mom’s favorite book, but it’s true all the same.

Time comes for us all, eventually.

Which is why my nightly calls with Mom have become about more than just reading, so much bigger than getting the next chapter right. Those calls are precious minutes shared with my beautiful mother, each second, every breath, our own personal stand against Time.

Don't Know Tough

don't  know tough
Buy the Book

In Denton, Arkansas, the fate of the high school football team rests on the shoulders of Billy Lowe, a volatile but talented running back. Billy comes from an extremely troubled home: a trailer park where he is terrorized by his mother’s abusive boyfriend. Billy takes out his anger on the field, but when his savagery crosses a line, he faces suspension. Without Billy Lowe, the Denton Pirates can kiss their playoff bid goodbye. But the head coach, Trent Powers, who just moved from California with his wife and two children for this job, has more than just his paycheck riding on Billy’s bad behavior. As a born-again Christian, Trent feels a divine calling to save Billy—save him from his circumstances, and save his soul. Then Billy’s abuser is found murdered in the Lowe family trailer, and all evidence points toward Billy. Now nothing can stop an explosive chain of violence that could tear the whole town apart on the eve of the playoffs.

Ozark Dogs

ozark dogs
Buy the Book

In this Southern thriller, two families grapple with the aftermath of a murder in their small Arkansas town. After his son is convicted of capital murder, Vietnam War veteran Jeremiah Fitzjurls takes over the care of his granddaughter, Joanna, raising her with as much warmth as can be found in an Ozark junkyard outfitted to be an armory. He teaches her how to shoot and fight, but there is not enough training in the world to protect her when the dreaded Ledfords, notorious meth dealers and fanatical white supremacists, come to collect on Joanna as payment for a long-overdue blood debt.

Headed by rancorous patriarch Bunn and smooth-talking, erudite Evail, the Ledfords have never forgotten what the Fitzjurls family did to them, and they will not be satisfied until they have taken an eye for an eye. As they seek revenge, and as Jeremiah desperately searches for his granddaughter, their narratives collide in this immersive story about family and how far some will go to honor, defend—or in some cases, destroy it.

Previous columns:
Writing from Buffet-less World
Writing from an airplane
Writing from Mississippi Book Festival
Writing from Bed
Writing from Witherspoon Hall
Writing From: Coco
Writing from the Beach
Writing From: Crooked Creek
Writing from a Nursing Home
Writing from a Firework Tent
Writing from a Boat
Writing from the Stars
Writing from the Pool
Writing from the Kitchen
Writing from Summer
Writing from Kindergarten
Writing from Mom
Writing from a Plane
Writing from Home
My second novel’s publication
A New Marriage Milestone
An Invitation to the Party
Writing from a Thunderstorm
Writing from a Soundbooth
Writing from “Jazz Beach"
Writing from the Sabbath
Writing from somewhere between Little Rock and Russellville
Writing from my back deck
Writing from the morning of my thirty-fifth year
Writing on the day of the college football National Championship
Writing from the space between breaths
Writing from 2022
Writing from the glow of a plastic Christmas tree
Writing on a rollercoaster of triumph and disaster
Writing from the drop-off line at my daughter’s elementary school

Writing with Thanksgiving on my mind
Writing from the crowd before the start of a Shovels & Rope show
Writing from the depths of a post-book-festival hangover
Writing from the Ron Robinson Theatre
Writing to you on Halloween Eve
Writing from my bed on a Saturday morning
Writing from my office with two darts clenched in my left hand
Writing from the shade of my favorite tree
Writing from my desk on a Tuesday morning
Writing from a pirate ship
Writing from the airport
Writing from the hospital
I'm writing from the water
Writing from my wife's Honda Pilot
Writing from my office

knoxville daily sun Knoxville Daily Sun
2023 Image Builders
User Agreement | Privacy Policy