Monday, October 31, 2016

Jonathan Safran Foer at the Jewish Literary and Cultural Arts Festival

Posted By on Mon, Oct 31, 2016 at 9:11 AM

Jonathan Safran Foer is the author of Extremely Loud and Incredible Close, and the bestselling work of nonfiction, Eating Animals. His first novel, Everything Is Illuminated, was named Book of the Year by the Los Angeles Times and the winner of numerous awards, including the Guardian First Book Prize, the National Jewish Book Award, and the New York Public Library Young Lions Prize. Foer was one of Rolling Stone's “People of the Year” and Esquire's “Best and Brightest.”

Foer will be a part of the Jewish Literary and Cultural Arts Festival at the Memphis Jewish Community Center this Tuesday evening.

Unfolding over three tumultuous weeks in present-day Washington, DC, his latest novel, Here I Am, is the story of a fracturing family in a moment of crisis. As Jacob and Julia and their three sons are forced to confront the distances between the lives they think they want and the lives they are living, a catastrophic earthquake sets in motion a pan-Arab invasion of Israel. At stake is the very meaning of home—and the fundamental question of how much life one can bear.

A conversation with Jonathan Safran Foer
Memphis Jewish Community Center
Tuesday, November 1
8:00 pm
$12/members; $15/non-members

Friday, October 28, 2016

An Evening With Geoff Calkins

Posted By on Fri, Oct 28, 2016 at 10:01 AM

When I first heard that Geoff Calkins, columnist for The Commercial Appeal, was making a sports book, I thought becoming a bookie was a sound choice for a second career (or fourth, if you count lawyer and radio sports talk deejay) as the dark storm clouds gather over the newspaper’s horizon. Turns out he made a book full of sports, which is a different thing altogether.

Published by Nautilus Publishing Company out of Oxford, After the Jump: Columns on the Best 20 Years in Memphis Sports is a collection of some of the writer’s favorite columns from what he’s determined to be “the best two decades in Memphis sports,” not just because of sport itself, but because of the transformative power it's brought to the city, the culture, and the people. Sponsored by Burke’s Book Store, he’ll be discussing and signing the book at AutoZone Park on Tuesday, November 1st.

Onetime Grizzly, Shane Battier, says of his writing: “Geoff Calkins chronicled my time in Memphis perfectly. I was lucky to spend two tours of basketball duty in Memphis. Geoff explained the significance and history that the Grizzlies made in my time like no one else. Reading his stories brings me right back to draft night, our first game and to our first playoff win. Geoff understands the people, the history of Memphis and the love of sports like no other journalist and weaves an amazing collection of stories about Memphis.”                       

As the Gannett Company continues to wrap its hands around the throat of The Commercial Appeal, effectively silencing 175 years of unique voices and wiping away all personality and character, a few have remained to articulate what it is they — and we — care about. Geoff Calkins is among that scant number and this collection is a great starter for where local sports has been and how it got to where we are, and Memphis along with it.

An evening with Geoff Calkins
Brought to you by Burke’s Book Store
Tuesday, Nov. 1st
AutoZone Park, Club Level (Home Plate Lounge)
Drinks and hors d’oeuvres at 6:30, with the reading and talk at 7:00 p.m.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

New food-centric books from Susan Schadt Press

Posted By on Tue, Oct 25, 2016 at 3:52 PM

Susan Schadt retired as chief executive officer of ArtsMemphis in 2015, and has spent her time since diving into the world of publishing with Susan Schadt Press and two new releases this fall.


The Chubby Vegetarian: 100 Inspired Vegetable Recipes For The Modern Table is the second vegetarian cookbook by Justin Fox Burks and Amy Lawrence. They have endorsements from TV host and author, Lloyd Boston; Chef Bryant Terry, former Memphian and host of two PBS series, Urban


Organic and The Endless Feast; and Joe Yonan, food writer; among many others. Their first book, The Southern Vegetarian (Thomas Nelson, 2013), was featured in The New York Times and The Washington Post, and several other national media outlets. The couples’ blog, The Chubby Vegetarian, has had over 3.5 million views.


Upcoming events:


Thursday, Oct. 27th

Book signing

Booksellers at Laurelwood

6:30 p.m.


Nov. 5th

Justin & Amy demo and signing

Rhodes College — Cajun Fest

11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.


Nov. 6th

Book release party

Second Line

6 – 7:30 p.m.


Nov. 16th

Book signing

Babcock Gifts

4:30 – 6 p.m.


Dec. 10th

Holiday Market

Memphis Farmers Market

8 a.m. – 1 p.m.


Reel Masters: Chefs Casting About With Timing And Grace features eight celebrated chefs and a foreword by Peter Kaminsky. The book employs a cookbook anthology model, incorporating stories, chef biographies, and recipes to tell the stories of chefs’ sought-after fishing spots or unknown gems. Through the voices and photographs of passionate fishermen, guides, chefs, and guests, the book


 captures the heart and soul of these revered retreats and the memories and traditions that make each so special. This time we are going fishing in the bayous , backwaters, and bays, and along the coastlines of the sporting South, from Toledo Bend, Louisiana, to Richmond, with stops in Venice, Pensacola, Charleston, and other treasured spots. 


Featured celebrated and award winning chefs:


Jeremiah Bacon, Charleston

John Besh, New Orleans

Walter Bundy, Richmond

John Currence, Oxford

Kelly English, Memphis

Chris Hastings, Birmingham

Donald Link, New Orleans

Kevin Willmann, St. Louis

Upcoming events:

Nov. 1st

Signing with Kelly English

Booksellers at Laurelwood

6:00 – 7:30 p.m.


Nov. 6th

Book release party

Second Line

6 – 7:30 p.m.


Monday, October 24, 2016

Pop critic Jack Hamilton discusses book Just Around Midnight at Stax Museum

Posted By on Mon, Oct 24, 2016 at 3:30 PM

Scholar and Slate pop critic Jack Hamilton will be signing and discussing his new book, Just around Midnight: Rock and Roll and the Racial Imagination, this Thursday at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music.

In his book, Hamilton addresses the issue of white artists' appropriation of black music, employing an interdisciplinary combination of historical research, musical analysis, and critical race theory to demonstrate how rock-and-roll "became white" during the 1960s. In doing so, he parallels Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” and Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come,” revealing that despite the songs’ similarities, Dylan was considered a rock genius, while Cooke is perceived as a master of “soul” — a disparity that resonates later in the 1960s with the conflicting perceptions of Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, and Dusty Springfield later in that decade. 

Just around Midnight also details the infatuation that British bands had with African American music, charting the Beatles’ collaboration with Motown artists and the undertones of racial transgression in the Rolling Stones’ hit songs. Hamilton elucidates the implications of Jimi Hendrix’s ascent to stardom amidst an increasingly white rock and roll landscape, and describes how Carlos Santana, one of the major guitar virtuosos of the post-Hendrix era, challenged the boundaries of music’s racial imagination.

In her 1973 Harper’s magazine essay “Ripping Off Black Music,” Margo Jefferson equated white artists’ appropriation of black music to cultural plunder: “The night Jimi died I dreamed this was the latest step in a plot being designed to eliminate blacks from rock music so that it may be recorded in history as a creation of whites.” Just around Midnight enriches our understanding of racial perception and authenticity in America and reinforces that black musicians played a crucial role in establishing the rock and roll sound that came to define second half of the 20th century.

Jack Hamilton
Stax Museum of American Soul Music
926 E. McLemore Avenue
Thursday, October 27th
7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Free admission

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Friends of the Library Fall Book Sale

Posted By on Thu, Oct 20, 2016 at 11:55 AM

It’s autumn! Forget what the thermometer says, I know it’s autumn because it’s time once again for the Friends of the Library Fall Book Sale. Beginning this Friday, Oct. 21st, and going on through Saturday, book (and film and music) lovers have the chance to get some great deals. Books, magazines, CDs, DVDs, sheet music, vinyl records . . . it’s all there for your perusing. 


Prices range from a quarter all the way up to $2. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Memphis Public Library & Information Center, its collections, programs, and resources throughout the18 locations citywide.


For more information about the Friends of the Library Fall 2016 Book Sale, call (901) 415-2840.


Friends of the Library Fall Book Sale

Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library meeting rooms

Friday & Saturday, Oct. 21-22

10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

(Members only preview sale is Friday, 8-10 a.m.)


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Meet the Incomparable Julia Elliott

Posted By on Tue, Oct 11, 2016 at 3:15 PM

by Jesse Davis

I had not heard of Julia Elliott before I picked up her first novel, The New and Improved Romie Futch, but I immediately felt drawn to the book. I liked the cover design — what appeared to be a primeval hog-dragon trampling swampland and belching flame. I flipped the tantalizingly titled tome over for a look at the details on the back cover only to find that Tin House Books, an imprint of one of my favorite literary journals, published the novel.

The New and Improved Romie Futch introduces the reader to the title character as he girds himself for yet another depressing bender. He is balding, pot-bellied, recently divorced, and his failing taxidermy shop is limping along like a maimed animal, not long for this world. A man with limited options, Romie lives in a small, Southern town, and he finds himself consistently in the shadow of one of his high school friends (now more “frienemy” than anything), an ATV salesman and a picture of stereotypical Southern masculinity. With a brief and disastrous encounter with his ex-wife — she glows; Romie glistens with alcoholic sweat; she is accompanied by her new beau; Romie slumps forlornly among his male cohorts — the scene is set for Romie’s transformation. What else, Romie is forced to wonder, could he possibly have to lose?

So after seeing an online pop-up ad promising a radical, life-changing transformation, Romie throws a few articles of clothing into a duffel bag and signs up for the experimental treatment. This, dear reader, is where the novel gets weird, with new genres rearing their heads, chimera-like. What began as a fairly straightforward New-South-meets-Southern-Gothic foray into contemporary fiction is suddenly a story about low and high art verily vrooming with verbiage. It is also a postmodern grotesquerie that attempts to reconcile the varied, mismatched parts of the Frankenstein monster that, so Elliott would seem to suggest, is the essence of compartmentalized, modern existence. And I would be remiss if I did not give a tip of the hat to the novel’s brave willingness to wear the paranoid science-fiction hat from time to time. (The program in which Romie enrolls smacks of MKUltra, the CIA’s illegal, 23-year-long mind control program.)

The program works, however, and Romie gets smart. He gets super-smart, Flowers for Algernon smart. So are the voices he’s hearing in his head just in his head, or are they some sort of Project Monarch-like intervention undertaken by secretive men and women in lab coats? Is the so-called “hogzilla” terrorizing the countryside also the product of clandestine genetic modification? Is the world ready for a conceptual taxidermy art installation based, in part, on Foucault’s Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison?

The New and Improved Romie Futch is absurd in the most satisfying of ways. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the novel adequately interfaces with the inherent absurdity of contemporary life. While it would be easy to say that Romie’s sadness and loneliness — the original impetus for his enrolment in the experiment in the first place — get lost in the genre shuffle, it is really up to the reader not to let that happen. Romie’s loneliness is right there all along, just under the surface of the fizz and bubble of verbiage and concepts. In fact, it is only accentuated by Romie’s improvement. Whereas before, he hardly fit in with his contemporaries, post-treatment Romie has no peers. He is a true freak — too redneck to fit in with the academics with whom he can suddenly converse and too brilliant to be content pounding domestic beer with his old high school buddies.

Julia Elliott has crafted an achingly heartfelt novel, propelled by a page-turner of a plot all the way until Romie’s inevitable confrontation with the hopped-up “hogzilla.” The New and Improved Romie Futch, true to its postmodern and chimera-like form, deftly balances its strange mix of Southern Gothic and science-fiction, heartfelt and thought-inducing prose, and the result is an infinitely readable offering. Though the novel, with its gene-spliced hero and monstrous boar, is ideal for the Halloween season, it will surely stand the test of time. I’m calling it here and now — this one is destined for cult classic status.

Jesse Davis is a copy editor for The Memphis Flyer and a bookseller for the Booksellers at Laurelwood.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, comes to story booth

Posted By on Mon, Oct 10, 2016 at 3:22 PM

Memphis is becoming a literary hotspot and has had its share of renowned authors visit its bookstores, libraries, and reading spaces this year — Jess Walter, Chris Offutt, Jacqueline Woodson, Erik Larsen, Lauren Groff, and Jesmyn Ward, to name a few. Add to this list Pulitzer Prize-winner Robert Olen Butler, coming to story booth on October 13th to discuss his new novel, Perfume River.


Robert Quinlan is a seventy-year-old historian, teaching at Florida State University, where his wife Darla is also tenured. Their marriage, forged in the fervor of anti-Vietnam-war protests, now bears the fractures of time, both personal and historical, with the couple trapped in an existence of morning coffee and solitary jogging and separate offices. For Robert and Darla, the cracks remain under the surface, whereas the divisions in Robert's own family are more apparent: he has almost no relationship with his brother Jimmy, who became estranged from the family as the Vietnam War intensified. William Quinlan, Robert and Jimmy's father and a veteran of World War II, is coming to the end of his life, and aftershocks of war ripple across all their lives once again, when Jimmy refuses to appear at his father's bedside. And an unstable homeless man whom Robert meets at a restaurant and at first takes to be a fellow Vietnam veteran turns out to have a deep impact not just on Robert, but on his entire family.

“What I so like about Perfume River is its plainly-put elegance. Enough time has passed since Vietnam that its grave human lessons and heartbreaks can be — with a measure of genius — almost simply stated. Butler’s novel is a model for this heartbreaking simplicity and grace.” — Richard Ford

“This is thoughtful, introspective fiction of the highest caliber, but it carries a definite edge, thanks to an insistent backbeat that generates suspense with the subtlest of brushstrokes.” — Booklist (starred review)

From one of America's most important writers, Perfume River is an exquisite novel that examines family ties and the legacy of the Vietnam War through the portrait of a single North Florida family. 

Robert Olen Butler
story booth
438 N. Cleveland Street
Thursday, October 13
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

An Evening With William Ferris at The Cotton Museum

Posted By on Tue, Oct 4, 2016 at 11:42 AM

Acclaimed folklorist and author, William Ferris, will be presenting his newest book, The South In Color: A Visual Journal, this Saturday at The Memphis Cotton Museum.

Ferris is Joel R. Williamson Eminent Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
and a former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. With Ferris’ two previous books — Give My Poor Heart Ease and The Storied South — The South in Color completes an informal trilogy of his documentation of the South’s tumultuous 20th century.

Since the moment his parents gave 12-year-old Ferris a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye camera for Christmas in 1954, he passionately began to photograph his world. He has never stopped. The 1960s and '70s were a particularly significant period for Ferris as he became a pathbreaking documentarian of the American South. This beautiful, provocative collection of 100 of Ferris’ photographs of the South, taken during this formative period, capture the power of his color photography. 

The event is open to the public and includes a reception with light hors d’oeuvres, local craft beer, and live music by The Side Street Steppers. Tickets are $25.00 for museum members and $35.00 for non-members, and are available for purchase online. A portion of your ticket purchase is tax deductible. Attending this event supports the mission of the Cotton Museum: Preserving and promoting a historic space open to the public and devoted to sharing the story of cotton — a crop that created empires, transformed American culture and changed the history of a nation and the world.

An evening with William Ferris
Saturday, October 8th
The Memphis Cotton Museum
65 Union Avenue
6:00 - 9:00 p.m.
$25.00 for members, $35.00 for non-members
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