Pat Morgan found her calling in the basement of Calvary Episcopal Church in Memphis, where she discovered the invisible people the homeless. She hadn't set out to become an expert on homeless people; she hadn't planned on working in Washington D.C.; and she hadn't planned on finding the missing healing ingredient that she needed. As a political insider, part policy maker and confessed political activist and junkie, Pat Morgan was the fly on the wall with a ringside seat. Failing at picking cotton as a young girl, she discovered that what she was good at picking was smart people and mentors to guide her.
The Memphis Jewish Community Center is celebrating its 3rd-annual Jewish Literary & Cultural Arts Festival. The festival will begin on October 15th and run through November 18th, showcasing world-renowned artists and authors. The schedule through October is as follows:
Thursday, Oct. 15
Artist talk and Shainberg Gallery opening with Keron Psillas
Saturday, Oct. 17
Author talk with Faye and Jonathan Kellerman
Monday, Oct. 19
Author talk with Alan Lightman
Malco Ridgeway Cinema Grill
$15, general; $12, members
Wednesday, Oct. 21
Artist talk with Shirel Horovitz
Thursday, Oct. 29
Author talk with Dani Klein Modisett
$15, general; $12, members
Leigh Anne Tuohy
Thursday, Oct. 22
The Booksellers of Laurelwood
Leigh Anne Tuohy, whose family inspired the hit film The Blind Side, will be at The Booksellers of Laurelwood signing her new book, the devotional Turn Around.
Giving isn’t always about money, much less a lot of money, and Tuohy challenges us to re-think what giving really means. Turn Around is a five-day-per-week devotional that uses scripture as a springboard to reconsider what it means to give sacrificially, generously, and immediately — many times, without having to leave your own community. We encounter opportunities to give every single day; what may seem like a small gesture to us may make a world of difference in someone else’s life. Make your next step one that causes you to turn around and meet a need.
Leigh Anne grew up in Memphis and attended the University of Mississippi, where she met her future husband; she now owns an interior design company. The Tuohys live in Memphis but travel all over the country speaking to thousands of people about their family, their faith, and how each of us can make a difference.
Linda Lee Patterson
Tuesday, Oct. 27
The Booksellers of Laurelwood
Linda Lee Peterson is at The Booksellers of Laurelwood to read from and sign her new novel, The Spy on the Tennessee Walker, an enthralling tale of hidden secrets, the Civil War, restrained love, and intelligent women of the past and present.
This is the third in the acclaimed Maggie Fiori mystery series, but it’s not quite like the others. Yes, Maggie is still the smart-mouthed magazine editor in San Francisco whose curiosity leads her to become (or so says her long-suffering husband) over-involved in other people’s business, especially if a crime is involved. But this time the trigger is not a dead body — it’s a cache of journals, letters, and photographs of her great-great-great-grandmother Victoria, Maggie’s 19th-century doppelganger and a woman of much mystery. She was a nurse in a Confederate hospital during the Civil War, but why did she still have a horse, her beloved Tennessee Walker, long after all other horses had been conscripted for the war? What was her relationship with Walt Whitman? Who was Gabriel, the man she exchanged love letters with? And, most of all, why did she end up imprisoned under charges of treason and bigamy?
Linda Lee Peterson is the author of two previous Maggie Fiori mysteries, Edited to Death and The Devil’s Interval. She has also written several nonfiction books, including The Stanford Century, On Flowers, and Linens and Candles, and has written for many national publications, including the Chicago Tribune. A longtime San Franciscan and an alumna of Stanford University, Peterson now lives in Portland, Oregon.
Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015
The Booksellers of Laurelwood
Taylor Kitchings will be discussing and signing his new middle-grade novel Yard War.
It’s 1964 in Jackson, Mississippi, deep in the civil rights movement, and the one black person 12-year-old Trip Westbrook knows well is Willie Jane, the family maid, who has been a second mother to him. When Trip invites her son, Dee, to play football in the yard, Trip discovers the ugly side of his smiling neighbors. Even his loving grandparents don’t approve. But getting to know Dee and playing football, being part of a team, changes Trip. He begins to see all the unspoken rules he lives by but doesn’t agree with, such as “respect your elders.” What if he thinks their views are wrong? This engaging, honest, and hopeful novel is full of memorable characters, and brings the civil rights-era South alive for young readers.
Taylor Kitchings’ roots in Mississippi run many generations deep, though it took him a while to circle back to them. As a college freshman, he recorded the original album Clean Break, now considered a collector’s item. As a junior, he wrote music for mallet and giant Mobius strip, and performed at Manhattan’s Café La MaMa. In the years between his BA from Rhodes College and MA from Ole Miss, he traveled from Memphis to New York to Europe, writing and performing songs on piano. He and his wife Beth have two children and live in Ridgeland, Mississippi, where he teaches English at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School. His short story “Mr. Pinky Gone Fishing” was published in the collection Tight Lines from Yale University Press. Yard War is his first novel.
Audrey Taylor Gonzalez
Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015 2:00 p.m.
The Booksellers of Laurelwood
Memphian Audrey Taylor Gonzalez will be discussing and signing her coming-of-age novel South of Everything.
Set in 1940s Germantown, South of Everything is a magical coming-of-age story about the daughter of a plantation-owning family, who, despite her privileged background, finds more in common with the help than her own family. She develops a special kinship with her parents’ servant Old Thomas, who introduces her to the mysterious Lolololo Tree, a magical, mystical tree with healing powers that she discovers is wiser than any teacher or parent or priest. Her connection with the Lolololo Tree opens her eyes to the religious and racial prejudice of her surroundings, and readers will root for her to fight against injustice and follow her heart to meet her fate.
Reverend Audrey Taylor Gonzalez was born in Memphis in 1939. In the span of her long career, she has been a journalist, TV host, art gallery owner, racehorse breeder, mountain climber, world traveler, breast cancer survivor, and the first woman to be ordained to holy orders in the Southern Cone of South America at Uruguay’s Holy Trinity Cathedral in Montevideo. She’s a philanthropist, mother, and grandmother to her own children, as well as many people in need who have crossed her path over the years. As a deacon at Calvary Episcopal Church in Memphis, Audrey received the prestigious Juvenile Court Judges Award for Outstanding Service in 2012 and 2014, and she was selected by the governor of Tennessee as a Commissioner on TCCY (Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth). She is the author of three books, the fictional memoir The Lolololo Tree and two collections of writings and homilies, Sermons and Such and The Shady Place. South of Everything is her first novel. Gonzalez resides in Memphis.
Wanna know what books Ann Beattie’s got on her night stand right now? The New York Times knows, because the paper just asked her.
Top of the list is Memphian Corey Mesler’s latest novel, Memphis Movie. And it’s right up there with Paragon Park by poet Mark Doty, who spent time in Memphis growing up.
Among Beattie’s all-time favorite short stories? “The Fireman’s Wife” by Richard Bausch, who taught a few years ago at the University of Memphis, along with “The Womanizer” by Richard Ford and “No Place for You, My Love” by Eudora Welty, two of Mississippi’s finest, living (Ford) or dead (Welty). Among the best writers, period, working today? Beattie lists Elizabeth Spencer, born in Carrollton, Mississippi, in 1921.
But if you haven’t read any of the above, don’t be too hard on yourself. The book that Beattie is embarrassed to say she’s never read: On the Road by Jack Kerouac. •
What’s the most important school supply this new school year? A library card, and it doesn’t cost a cent.
That’s the message of the American Library Association, which is partnering with public libraries across the country in September to celebrate National Library Card Sign-up Month. Snoopy, in a “Joe Cool” T-shirt, is national honorary chair for the monthlong campaign.
How many 140-year-olds do you know asking for a bike to celebrate nearly a century and a half of doing business? In Memphis, that would be Burke's Book Store, which was founded in 1875 by Walter Burke on North Main, and it’s been operating at different locations ever since. That makes Burke’s one of the oldest businesses in Memphis still operating (now at 936 S. Cooper) and one of the oldest independent book stores in the country.
Memphian Pat Morgan has made it her mission to work on behalf of the homeless both locally and nationally, and she wrote about that mission in The Concrete Killing Fields: One Woman’s Battle To Break the Cycle of Homelessness, published in early 2014.
In that book, Morgan described her days directing the Calvary Street Ministry in downtown Memphis. She wrote about her government work in Washington, D.C. But she also wrote engagingly about her difficult past and need for personal healing, both of which she handled with candor and surprising humor. The Flyer was impressed. Others have been impressed.
Joshua Hood had already gone through QueryTracker.com, a database of literary agents, and gotten a slew of rejections in answer to his query letters. He’d exhausted WritersMarket.com too in search of an agent. But through the annual conference known as ThrillerFest, an agent got interested in Hood’s manuscript, a contemporary military thriller set in today’s worn-torn Middle East, and she got interested in Hood himself.
He told her about being a decorated war veteran and former member of the 82nd Airborne division in Iraq and Afghanistan, and after reading his manuscript, she had two things to say. The good news was: Hood had a story to tell. The bad news: Hood didn’t know how to write a book. There were rules to storytelling in general and added rules to writing a successful thriller in today's market, and Hood needed to learn them. She gave him the name of a “story doctor.”
In a blog post on the website of the Booksellers at Laurelwood, where he works, Matt Nixon called it “a book talk, a discussion, a presentation, a convocation.” He also named it Grawl!x, which Nixon headed this past May as “a sneak-peek and the low-down on a hand-picked selection of upcoming and recent off-beat literary fiction” for Memphis book lovers.
It’s that time again — time for Grawl!x to meet and the public's invited. The location is Muddy’s Grind House (585 S. Cooper) on Saturday, August 1st, at 4 p.m. Come with new titles (offbeat’s okay) that you’d like to share with other readers. Nixon will be there with his own recommendations.
The Literacy Summit at Playhouse on the Square on September 9th will be an all-day event for those, working outside the traditional classroom, who want to improve the reading skills of young people in Memphis — and better their chances of success later in life. Organized by Literacy Mid-South and co-sponsored by International Paper and the Bodine School, registration for the summit (at a cost of only $10) is officially open.
Wait and see. That seems to be the case today among Memphis booksellers.
July 14th is the official publication date of Go Set a Watchman (published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins). The book is Harper Lee’s first novel and the one written before To Kill a Mockingbird but only now seeing its way into print and into the hands of readers. Locally, though, the morning was a quiet one, with no great rush when three area bookstores opened.
Do you have a book manuscript? Need some professional advice on it? And you’d like to help out a good cause? Make an online bid — or bids — by 5 p.m. Eastern time on Monday, June 29th. The winning bid will receive 20 minutes of sound advice, by phone, from a New York literary agent.
Delta ’Shine isn’t the first time we’ve read of a Memphis “tinner.” Author Joe Werner introduced us to the world of sheet metal workers and to Memphis’ skid row in his autobiographically based The Tinsmith’s Son in 2006. But Hoyt Jackson, in Werner’s new novel, Delta ’Shine (AuthorHouse), is not a tinner any longer. After serving as a captain in the Air Force during World War II, he’s back in Memphis and worse for wear, because he can’t shake the guilt he feels after sending his men — on order of Hoyt’s superiors — to their deaths over Germany.