This Saturday, October 6th, 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., is the annual Bookstock, a full day's program of speakers, signings, workshops, and more at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library on Poplar. And by "more," organizers mean food trucks in the library's parking lot, cooking demonstrations by authors Marissa Baggett, Paul and Angela Knipple, B.J. Chester Tamayo, live music, and a special address at 12:45 p.m. by Congressman Steve Cohen on the importance of literacy. Keynote speaker at 1 p.m. is Kristen Iversen, author of Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats. Events are free and open to the public.
That's Daniel Wolff (pictured) speaking by phone from his home in Nyack, New York. "Jonathan" is Jonathan Demme, the film director. And it's taken another five years for Wolff and Demme to put together their new documentary, I'm Carolyn Parker: The Good, the Mad, and the Beautiful, which aired this week on the PBS series POV (and airs locally on WKNO2 tonight, Sunday, September 23rd, at 9 p.m.).
A lively essay that compares public-school education to a deconstructed hamburger with all the trimmings: That's "An Education on Education," by an author, with a master's in education, named Shelonda Richardson. (Lesson learned: Let's make that burger — our kids' educations — well-done.)
Addison Odum's "Wedding Cake": That's the fictional story of a photographer, a wedding crasher, and a woman with a sex-toy fetish. (Lesson learned: Crasher and fetishist make for a handsome couple — and good photo.)
A 14-year-old girl in the back seat of a car barreling down a gravel road and taking her first hits off of a cigar: That's Paulette Regan's "First Cigar." (Lesson learned: "You're better than any old boy," says the girl's Uncle George and to his niece's delight.)
"I'm booked for months. It's exciting," author Kristen Iversen reported in a recent email.
"I've been on NPR's Fresh Air and C-Span, and I've done interviews all over the country. Lots of radio. In recent weeks, I've done readings in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Seattle, Portland, Denver, Boulder, Los Alamos, and San Francisco. And I just returned from Richmond, where I gave a talk to the incoming freshman class for Virginia Commonwealth University's 2012-2013 Reading Program (5,000 people had read the book!)."
Since I didn't speak with author Thomas McNamee — born-and-bred Memphian — when he was in Memphis to sign his latest book a few months ago, I did the next best thing: reach McNamee by phone in Montana, where he spends his summers. The topic of discussion: McNamee's The Man Who Changed the Way We Eat: Craig Claiborne and the American Food Renaissance (Free Press/Simon & Schuster), and you can read more about McNamee's life of Claiborne, the first biography of the celebrated New York Times food writer and restaurant critic who died more than a decade ago, in the September issue of Memphis magazine. Here, for now, though, and starting out on a disturbing note:
Want a ghost story/crime story/police procedural/Shakespeare lesson all twisted — really twisted — into one page-turner? See The Sleeping and the Dead (Minotaur Books/St. Martin's Press) from local author Jeff Crook. See to it too that you've got the stomach for it, preferably of the cast-iron variety. The story's got scenes that are plenty perverse and scenes to serve as a road map to Memphis' leading theaters, where a lot of the bloodshed is staged. It's also got former MPD vice detective Jackie Lyons in the lead role with a camera that sees ghosts and with a real mess on her hands. Not the least of it: a nasty drug habit she's maybe kicked and a nastier serial killer making mincemeat of his victims.
Here's Jeff Crook, by phone and by email, on The Sleeping and the Dead and on the path to winning an agent and a publishing contract, with side steps into the martial arts and the writer's mean rack of ribs:
Its or it's. That or which. Which is it? It's hit or miss.
That's been the case with the writing of many of Joe Hayden's journalism students at the University of Memphis. So he's done something about it. He's written a pocket-size crash course called The Little Grammar Book: First Aid for Writers (Marion Street Press).
What's wrong with the standard textbooks on English usage? Nothing. Except they're too big and too boring. And that's why the key word in Hayden's title is "little." It's handy. It's easy to thumb through. It's got cartoon work by Hayden himself. And it covers the basics of English grammar as painlessly as possible — from "Body Parts" (parts of speech, clauses, sentences) to "The Dirty Dozen" (fused sentences, misplaced modifiers, subject-verb mismatches, "hyphen hell," etc.) to "Other Matters" (words often confused or misspelled). Hayden's concluding advice to the grammatically challenged? The best advice: Read a lot.
Read what Joe Hayden had to say about The Little Grammar Book:
Before award-winning novelist, short-story writer, and essayist Richard Bausch, who holds the Moss Chair of Excellence in the creative writing program at the University of Memphis, makes his move, he's bidding Memphis a fitting farewell. The move will be to Chapman University's Wilkinson College of the Humanities in Orange, California, outside Los Angeles. The farewell will be in the form of a reading and booksigning on Wednesday, April 25th, inside the U of M's University Center at 8 p.m.
Any end of semester is bound to be a busy time for students and teachers alike. This spring has been extra busy for Bausch. He's overseen student work. He and his wife Lisa have put their house up for a sale (and sold it). And this month, Bausch had a workshop in the Bahamas to lead. But he's made time for a few thoughts on the U of M's writing program, which he joined in 2005. And he's had some thoughts on Memphis as well.
Here, then, those thoughts, prompted by a few questions by email:
On tap: three MFA candidates from the program's three genres: Scott Carter (fiction), a recent finalist in Narrative Magazine's "30 Below" competition; Devon Taylor (creative nonfiction), this semester's senior creative nonfiction editor for The Pinch, the U of M's semiannual literary journal; and Tara Mae Mulroy (poetry), managing editor and marketing director for the spring 2012 issue of The Pinch. Student Tom Useted will act as emcee for the evening.
1st place: Daniel Zuo, of White Station High School here in Memphis, who wrote to Dr. Seuss about The Cat in the Hat.
2nd place: Hanna Lustig, of Houston High School in Germantown. Hanna's letter was to Ray Bradbury about his novel Dandelion Wine.
3rd place: Victoria Gray, of Germantown High School, who also wrote to Dr. Seuss, in response to Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?.
"As you can imagine, I'm very pleased by the nominations," Russell said by email this week and on the very day he found out that his novel was also a finalist for ForeWord's Book of the Year Award in the lesbian/gay fiction category. ForeWord, a trade journal for librarians and booksellers that recognizes titles of excellence from independent publishers, will announce this year's book-of-the-year winners at the American Library Association's annual conference in June.
"Nice to see that having gone with a small press like Cleis didn't mean that my book got completely ignored," Russell added. "I think more and more literary fiction will appear from such presses in the future. But then, Ulysses first appeared in The Little Review, so how much really has changed?"
Ever consider saying to hell with it, I'll drive a cab? Consider, first, the following statements:
1) "Whew! Those people are crazy."
2) "What is this place?"
3) "Where did Jesus live?"
4) "Knmlknas, nonss wjosl and mpoi, cvosie." And ...
5) "My son is crazy."
Now consider the source: It's cab driver Eddie Tucker quoting from the tales that Tucker tells at taxistory333.blogspot.com. (Tales, some of them, that were also featured in a Memphis Flyer cover story in February 2011.) Those tales have now been collected in a book Tucker calls Taxi Tales from the Streets of Memphis (CreateSpace, in paperback for $19.95).