Sunday, September 27, 2009

Robert Hicks: "What Exactly Am I Talking About?"

Posted By on Sun, Sep 27, 2009 at 3:28 PM

Facts: Robert Hicks wrote The Widow of the South, which is set on the Carnton plantation in Franklin, Tennessee, south of Nashville. That book, about the Civil War's bloody Battle of Franklin, Confederate general John Bell Hood, and the battle's aftermath, debuted at #6 in 2005 on The New York Times best-seller list. A year later, the trade paperback edition became a Times best-seller too. And on October 4th, the mass-market edition will make it to that list as well. All this as Hicks' new novel, A Separate Country (Grand Central Publishing) hits bookstores. Hicks is signing and discussing A Separate Country at Davis-Kidd Booksellers in Memphis on Monday, September 28th, at 6 p.m.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bausch a Real Winner

Posted By on Wed, Sep 23, 2009 at 11:03 AM

Could a book title and book prize be a better fit?

Just announced: Richard Bausch, holder of the Moss Chair of Excellence in English at the University of Memphis, has won the 2009 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for fiction for his novel Peace (now in paperback, from Vintage). The honorarium: $10,000.

Bausch is winner along with author Benjamin Skinner for A Crime So Monstrous: Face-to-Face with Modern-Day Slavery. (The runners-up for this year's prize: Uwem Akpan's Say You're One of Them, named the next Oprah's Book Club selection, and Thomas Friedman's Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution ... and How It Can Renew America.)

The Dayton Literary Peace Prize, launched in 2006, is awarded annually to works of fiction and nonfiction that use "the power of literature to foster peace, social justice, and global understanding." Peace is that: a meditation on the corrosive effects of violence among a group of American soldiers in World War II Italy.

In his statement on Dayton's website, Bausch said, "I am honored to receive the prize — especially when I see the books that were nominated along with mine. It is heartening to be judged worthy of that company, and to be singled out among them is deeply humbling."

Richard Bausch and the other winning authors will be recognized in an awards ceremony in Dayton, Ohio, on November 8th.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Root at U of M

Posted By on Tue, Sep 22, 2009 at 8:58 AM

One week, it looked like visiting authors in the River City Writers Series at the University of Memphis will be no-shows this semester, due to funding cuts. This week: better news. Robert Root, a leading name in creative nonfiction, will be making two appearances at the university.

On Thursday, October 1st, Root will teach a master class at 2 p.m. in Patterson Hall; at 7 p.m., he'll be reading from and signing copies of his books in Mitchell Hall Auditorium.

Those books by Root include The Nonfictionist's Guide: On Reading and Writing Creative Nonfiction and his latest, Following Isabella: Travels in Colorado Then and Now. In addition to writing, teaching, and regularly visiting creative-writing programs throughout the country, Root is an editor at the journal Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction.

Both of Root's appearances at the University of Memphis are free and open to the public. For more information, call 678-4692 or write

Friday, September 18, 2009

C. Bard Cole: The LONG Explanation

Posted By on Fri, Sep 18, 2009 at 11:04 AM

On writer (and current Memphian) C. Bard Cole's latest book, the experimental This Is Where My Life Went Wrong (BLATT Books): a [Q]&A.

[Memphis. Disaster #2.]
The short explanation, why I'm living in Memphis ... I'd just finished Alabama grad school, an MFA in creative writing, in the summer of 2005 and moved to New Orleans. I was going to be an instructor at Tulane. I house-sat for the summer and finally found an apartment ... two weeks before Katrina hit. With two friends with me, we packed into my car and went on a cross-country jaunt across the South. We just assumed that in a few days we'd get to go back to New Orleans. But as the days wore on, it became clear that we weren't going to be able to go back.

My friend in Memphis, Brian Pera ... I've known him since the late 1990s. I'd met him in New York City. We had the same editor at St. Martin's for our first books.

Brian was planning to start shooting his first movie, The Way I See Things. He had one position he could pay for and that he hadn't filled. It was boom operator. Brian said, "Do you want to work on my movie? You can forget about New Orleans for the month or so it'll take to shoot." I said okay. The cinematographer on that movie, Ryan Parker, trained me to operate the boom. I had a great time.

Then I went home to Maryland to figure out what I was going to do ... hoard some money. Tulane had canceled the semester. It had fired the instructors in my position ... first-year writing instructor. So I worked at a commercial greenhouse in Maryland.

Then Ryan helped me get a job at WKNO in Memphis, and that's where I've been ever since. I started as a production assistant doing all sorts of stuff — from manual labor to working on sets to learning about editing. Now I'm in promotions and the public information department.

There's another movie with Brian and Ryan coming up. I'm the production designer, and this time, we're trying to be a bit more "Hollywood." Ann Magnuson is gonna be one of our stars. I'm excited to meet her. When I was a little kid, well, not a little kid, a teenager, I used to look at Interview magazine and things I thought were cool, urban ... New York. Ann was there, right in there.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Writers Series This Fall? Not So Much

Posted By on Wed, Sep 16, 2009 at 7:46 PM

It's the beginning of another fall semester, but Memphians looking to see, hear, and talk to out-of-town authors will be disappointed -- disappointed that this year the River City Writers Series at the University of Memphis has no authors, at this time, scheduled. Blame it on funding cuts, and hope that it's short-term. It was only last March that the writers series brought Elizabeth Strout to Memphis. A month later, Strout won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for Olive Kitteridge.

Over at Rhodes College, there's, so far, one visiting-author event slated, and it's Thursday, September 17th. That's when the college will host not one but three returning alumnae -- Christina LaPrease, Aisha Sharif, and Caki Wilkinson -- who will read from their poetry starting at 7:30 p.m. in Blount Auditorium inside Buckman Hall.

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Wayne White At Risk

Posted By on Tue, Sep 8, 2009 at 3:32 PM

In case you don't recognize the name Wayne White, he grew up in the 1960s on the outskirts of Chattanooga, he studied art at Middle Tennessee State University, and he was in New York City when the downtown art scene there was heating up in the late '70s and early '80s. He was already an accomplished cartoonist and illustrator, and he was lucky enough to join the crew as an Emmy Award-winning puppeteer and set designer on Pee-wee's Playhouse. He also worked on music videos with Peter Gabriel ("Big Time") and Smashing Pumpkins ("Tonight, Tonight"). A painting of White's is a Lambchop album cover ("Nixon").

Drop the Country Boy Act
  • Drop the Country Boy Act
Today, White lives in Los Angeles. His signature work: words, phrases, or whole sentences that White paints onto mass-produced thrift-store artwork — images of an ideal never-never land depicting rural America at its most surreal. As in, at left, White's Drop the Country Boy Act.

AMMO books has recently published the coffee-table-worthy Wayne White: Maybe Now I'll Get the Respect I So Richly Deserve, a monograph on the artist from the studio of designer Todd Oldham.
What follows: some questions put to and words from Wayne White.

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