The phone call in late February was to a house near Woodstock, New York, a town in the frigid Catskills. The voice on the other end of the line belonged to Holly George-Warren, here to talk about her latest book, but she was remembering her friend Melinda Pendleton, who had passed away in New Orleans the week before.
The official publication date of George-Warren’s A Man Called Destruction: The Life and Music of Alex Chilton, From Box Tops to Big Star to Backdoor Man (Viking) was still weeks away. But the author had just learned that the book was already into its second printing — a book that George-Warren will be discussing and signing in Memphis at Crosstown Arts (438 and 430 N. Cleveland) on April 2nd.
The tattoo on the shoulder of Megan Fox quotes from it. The classes headed by Kenneth Adelman are inspired by it. And ad men everywhere continue to play off it — “it” being the work of playwright William Shakespeare.
No matter that Fox’s tattoo doesn’t quote quite correctly (or borrow meaningfully) from King Lear, that it’s odd to think of Hamlet as a lesson in crisis management (though Adelman thinks otherwise), and that “2B or not 2B” isn’t exactly existential. (It’s actually the clever tag line to an airline ad: Reserve your seat electronically!)
What does matter, in this day and age: You want an all-purpose cultural upgrade? Shakespeare, after nearly 400 years, is still your go-to guy — or guys. And Kenneth Adelman knows it. His teaching company is called Movers & Shakespeares. “Shakespeares” is right.
The latest in the “Communities in Conversation” lecture series at Rhodes College could for one night only be retitled “communities in conflict.” That’s because the topic on Monday night will be Muslims and Jews in France, and Mandel, of Brown University, is just the lecturer to sort through the complicated issues. Her latest book, Muslims and Jews in France: History of a Conflict (Princeton University Press), appeared this past January.
Think of it as the Aukward Age, sometime after dinosaurs died out, before man appeared on the scene. And here we are: up at the Arctic Circle. There’s an island known as Neversink. Due north is a land known as Ocean’s End, and due east is another island known as Tytonia.
According to The Walrus Guide to Lesser Creatures (16th edition), you can divide the plump, duck-like seafarers known as auks, who live on Neversink, into puffins (“smallish, squidgy, improbable looking”), razorbills (“only auk sensibly named because of its wedge-shaped bill”), murres (who nest on cliffs, “presumably out of snootiness”), and guillemots (name “unnecessarily florid”; “noisy, disagreeable”; “grating”).
Between Whitesburg and Bulls Gap, there’s a 48-acre farm in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee. The farm once belonged to Amy Greene’s grandfather, and it’s where Greene grew up — a few miles from Cherokee Lake and its silos, which you can see, at low water, rising up out of it.
That lake is man-made — the results of a dam built by the TVA — and that dam brought electricity and jobs to the area. It also saved lives, because the dam helped to control the flooding that endangered farms and farm families — farms such as the fictional one Annie Clyde Dodson still lives on in the summer of ’36. A social worker hired by the power company has been trying to reason with Annie Clyde to relocate, as her neighbors have done. But Annie Clyde will have none of it. She means to stand her ground near the Long Man River. And once her daughter goes missing, she means to find her.