This week her ladyship, the editor, is entertaining visitors. More specifically, her folks have come to stay awhile. This means her ladyship is cooking (white bean and kale soup and apple-rosemary upside down skillet cake), and cleaning (see last week's note about whacking carpets with sticks), and exchanging books with her mother. Once a week her ladyship is in the habit of calling her parent to see how they are doing and more importantly, find out what they are reading. But it is vastly more pleasurable to be able to have that conversation in person, over slices of warm apple-rosemary upside-down cake.
Lately, the talks have centered around short story collections. Living as she does far enough north that she can see Canada from her back porch, her ladyship's mother never fails to arrive for a visit with a stack of books (laughable in itself, considering where she will be spending the next two weeks) by Canadian and New England writers. She will be met by her ladyship, with a stack of story collections from Southern authors. We will each argue the merits of our stack, exchange books, and then spend forthcoming phone calls discussing why we did or did not like this or that writer.
What is never in question, however, is how much her ladyship and her mother enjoy short stories. Her ladyship's stack is a half dozen story collections found on the long list of the Pat Conroy Southern Book prize:
If it were a competition -- north vs. south, a short story Civil War -- her ladyship would win.
Read independently! And shop local, for obvious reasons.
her ladyship, the editor
Lady Banks' Pick of the Week
Lady Banks' Commonplace Book
Noteworthy poetry and prose from her ladyship's bedside reading stack.
One thousand eight hundred and seventy-five days after Joshua Hamilton went missing, the State of Tennessee declared him legally dead.
Aubrey, his wife—or former wife, or ex-wife, or widow, she had no idea how to refer to herself anymore—received the certified letter on a Friday. It came to the Montessori school where she taught, the very one she and Josh had attended as children. Came to her door in the middle of reading time, borne on the hands of Linda Pierce, the school’s long-standing principal, who looked as if someone had died.
Which, in a way, they had.
Or so the State of Tennessee had officially declared.
Aubrey had been against the declaration-of-death petition from the beginning. She didn’t want Josh’s estate settled. Didn’t want a date engraved on that stupid family stone obelisk that loomed over the graves of his ancestors at Mount Olivet Cemetery. Didn’t want to say good-bye forever.
But Josh’s mother had insisted. She wanted closure. She wanted to move on with her life. She wanted Aubrey to move on with hers, too. She’d petitioned the court for the early ruling, and clearly the courts agreed.
Everyone was ready to move on. Everyone but Aubrey.
--J.T. Ellison, No One Knows (Gallery Books, 2016) 9781501118470
Recommended reading from Southern Indie Booksellers
from Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC:
Mosquitoland by David Arnold
On a Greyhound bus headed from Jackson, MS (aka Mosquitoland) back to Cleveland, Ohio, 16-year-old Mim knows that if she can get to her sick mother by Labor Day, then all the confusion of the divorce, her new stepmom, and the recent move will no longer matter. Mim's voice in this amazing amalgam of a love story, a road trip novel, and a coming-of-age story, will stay with you long after you finish Mosquitoland. -Jill Hendrix
The Carlin Home Companion by Kelly Carlin
A vivid and compelling insight into the family life of one of the most brilliant and revered comics of the last half century. On a purely narrative level, Kelly Carlin's book is wholly engrossing; as a companion to her father's body of work, it's indispensable. -Ike, store employee
Flying Circus by Susan Crandall
A fascinating love triangle among the members of a flying circus in the 1920s. A chance encounter brings Gil, Cora, and Henry together. They are each running from their own demons that threaten to undo them. They soon learn that the exhilaration of flying will never wipe out the truths that need to be faced. -Linda H., store volunteer
Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan
Luna has lived her life in darkness. When she was born, a perpetual eclipse started. In the ensuing chaos, Luna's parents, the king and queen of Relhok, were murdered, and Luna was secreted away to a hidden tower, allowing everyone to believe her dead. But now Luna wants more than life in her tower, and her chance comes when Fowler shows up just before an attack on the tower. Now Luna and Fowler are on the run together and must learn to rely on each other in ways neither of them has needed or wanted to before, fighting the monsters born of the darkness and the humans who would tear them apart. But they both have secrets that could tear their blossoming love apart. The start of a new YA fantasy series with plenty of romance and surprises to keep you turning the pages. -Melissa O., store employee
In an obsessive mystery as thrilling as "The Girl on the Train" and "The Husband's Secret," "New York Times" bestselling author J.T. Ellison will make you question every twist in her page-turning novel and wonder which of her vividly drawn characters you should trust.
The day Aubrey Hamilton's husband is declared dead by the state of Tennessee should bring closure so she can move on with her life. But Aubrey doesn't want to move on; she wants Josh back. It's been five years since he disappeared, since their blissfully happy marriage they were happy, weren't they? screeched to a halt and Aubrey became the prime suspect in his disappearance. Five years of emptiness, solitude, loneliness, questions. Why didn t Josh show up at his friend's bachelor party? Was he murdered? Did he run away? And now, all this time later, who is the mysterious yet strangely familiar figure suddenly haunting her new life?
In "No One Knows," the "New York Times" bestselling coauthor of the Nicholas Drummond series expertly peels back the layers of a complex woman who is hiding dark secrets beneath her unassuming exterior. This masterful thriller for fans of Gillian Flynn, Liane Moriarty, and Paula Hawkins will pull readers into a you ll-never-guess merry-go-round of danger and deception. Round and round and round it goes, where it stops no one knows.
"I’m fascinated by choices. I’d like to think I have a pretty steady moral compass, so when someone does something unethical, or criminal, I’m always aghast. And then I want to sit them down and find out why. What drove you to that decision? Was it easier to cheat? Weren’t you worried about how it would look? You weren’t afraid of going to jail? The idea that our society is split in two — law-abiders and criminals — makes novels like mine come to life. I love Nashville as the palette for this kind of story, too. The juxtapositions in this town are fabulous."
A few nights ago, I attended a signing at the wonderful Parnassus Books in Nashville. The signing author was Ariel Lawhon, who was launching her brilliant story chronicling the doomed flight of the Hindenburg, Flight of Dreams. As Ariel and I hugged and kissed hello, bookseller extraordinaire Bill Long-Innes smiled benevolently and asked, “Do you guys have a writer tribe? It seems like Nashville authors really make an effort to support one another. I wonder if any other cities have such a tight knit group?”
Ariel and I nodded, because we do have a tribe here in Nashville.
Our literary community, dubbed the Nashville Literati, is tight. There are cliques within it‑young adult writers in the SCBWI, crime fiction in Sisters in Crime, romance writers in MCWR, literary authors big with Salon 615 and Humanities Tennessee and The Porch Writers’ Collective. But when it comes to supporting another author, we cross genres like a boss. We lunch together. We attend each other’s signings. We hang out in East Nashville at East Side Storytellin’. We pull together all our writing buddies when a writer friend comes to town. We even go on writing retreats together.
And now one constant we all have in common is our indie store, Parnassus. I think the store’s staff has made it such a welcoming, open place for writers of all genres, of all stripes, that we can’t help but want to gather there.
When our beloved former indie, Davis-Kidd, closed its doors in 2010 (and Parnassus didn’t yet exist), it suddenly became much harder to get everyone together. We have the annual Southern Festival of Books, which is always well-represented with local authors. We did lunches and cocktails, drove out to other counties to attend signings, but not having an indie store that represented and celebrated all the writers in town was hard. A town without an indie store is a sad one indeed. It’s been very fun to watch Parnassus take hold in our community, to see stories being made there.
Davis-Kidd had a long history in this town. As a matter of fact, it was one of the reasons I was okay with moving here. When my then boyfriend (now husband) brought me to Nashville in 1993 to meet his parents, he drove me around, and our last stop was Davis-Kidd. “See?” he said. “This is the best bookstore in town. You’ll have plenty to read if we ever move here.”
(I’m not sure if I was more entranced by the idea of books‑books!—or the fact that my boyfriend had just hinted strongly he wanted a long future with me.)
Davis-Kidd was everything you could ask for in a bookstore: great staff, great events, a huge, diverse collection of titles. I attended my very first author signing there (John Connolly! My writing hero!). At that signing, I met a woman who became my other mother, who mentored me through years of writing, getting an agent, getting a deal. I did one of my first signings at David-Kidd. I hit my first bestseller list while I was launching my fourth book there. I attended Sisters in Crime meetings there. I wept with everyone else when it closed.
So to have an indie in our midst again is incredible. The Nashville Literati grows stronger day-by-day, with new writers coming up to join the established ones. And Parnassus is our hub. Several writers are booksellers there (And one co-owns it. You might have heard of her . . . her name is Ann.). This lends a verisimilitude unmatched anywhere else.
Yes, Nashville has a writer tribe, just as strong as Chicago, New York, and L.A. And thanks to our favorite indie, we have a place to call our own, too.
Writer J.T. Ellison lives and writes in Nashville, Tennessee. She is the New York Times bestselling author of fifteen critically acclaimed novels, including WHAT LIES BEHIND, WHEN SHADOWS FALL, and ALL THE PRETTY GIRLS, and is the coauthor of the Nicholas Drummond series with #1 New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter. Her latest novel, NO ONE KNOWS, is available March 22.
Lady Banks' Book Trailer Park
"A heartfelt no-holds-barred ode . . . hopefully others will discover this man's brilliance through this powerful book." - Karen Hayes, Parnassus books
Friend, asshole, angel, mutant, singer-songwriter Vic Chesnutt came along and made us gross and broken people seem . . . I dunno, cooler, I guess. A quadriplegic who could play only simple chords on his guitar, Chesnutt recorded seventeen critically acclaimed albums before his death in 2009, including "About to Choke," "North Star Deserter," and "At the Cut." In 2006, NPR placed him in the top five of the ten best living songwriters, along with Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Paul McCartney, and Bruce Springsteen. Chesnutt's songs have also been covered by many prominent artists, including Madonna, the Smashing Pumpkins, R.E.M., Sparklehorse, Fugazi, and Neutral Milk Hotel.
Kristin Hersh toured with Chesnutt for nearly a decade and they became close friends, bonding over a love of songwriting and mutual struggles with mental health. In "Don t Suck, Don t Die," she describes many seemingly small moments they shared, their free-ranging conversations, and his tragic death. More memoir than biography, Hersh's book plumbs the sources of Chesnutt's pain and creativity more deeply than any conventional account of his life and recordings ever could. Chesnutt was difficult to understand and frequently difficult to be with, but, as Hersh reveals him, he was also wickedly funny and painfully perceptive. This intimate memoir is essential reading for anyone interested in the music or the artist.
“People might compare it to ‘Gone Girl,’ but I wrote it before that book ever came out, back in 2011,” Ellison said. “It was based on a dream I had when my husband and I went to a wedding at the Opryland Hotel in Tennessee. After sending me a drink he disappeared. I was looking for him and as I rushed into the parking lot I saw the author Harlan Coben, who wanted to give me career advice. Unfortunately I never got it because I woke up. I did not have it published then because Catherine Coulter popped up in 2012. She wanted me to start writing with her so I shelved this book. Of course ‘Gone Girl’ came out a few months later. But now after numerous revisions I have published my first stand alone.”
“There is at least one book being published every day and so many topics that we can choose from that I’m not sure it’s possible to run out of new ideas,” said Jane Kulow, the festival’s director. “This year we have topics on drones, pandemics, science and black holes and others. There’s a lot going on.” One topic both in the news and on the festival events schedule is immigration and its impact on society. “This year is especially cool because we have a doubleheader series of programs on immigration, about the impact of “hyphen-Americans” and how they change the culture,” Kulow said. “It helps us think about how the makeup of Virginia has changed and how we react to it.”
I may be in the minority, but I’m actually partial to Bragg’s writing in essay form, rather than the memoirs for which he’s best known. Bragg’s words come together to form sentences so sumptuous and rich, I prefer them packaged in short bon mots that whet my appetite for more. Before “My Southern Journey,” my favorite Bragg book was “Somebody Told Me,” a collection of his best newspaper stories.
Nashville’s popular Parnassus Books is hitting the road. The bookstore, owned by Karen Hayes and author Ann Patchett, has a new bookmobile. Hayes found the retired bookmobile on eBay and purchased it. After a complete makeover, the truck is ready to roll. Customers will be able to find the bookmobile at businesses and in neighborhoods throughout the city. “It’s another fun way to weave literature into everyday life and to be where people are,” said Mary Laura Philpott, social media director at Parnassus Books. “Kind of take what’s happening in the store out onto the streets of Nashville.”
Working with those story elements, Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly could have written a pretty good yarn in which most readers would find something to like: romance, danger, heartbreak, corruption, unrequited longing, unexpected tenderness. Instead, the two authors unleashed a raging deluge in The Tilted World, set amidst the devastation of the Mississippi River flood of 1927—a near-forgotten historical nightmare comparable to Hurricane Katrina.
“those of us who are entrusted by both publishers and the people to tell the stories of our place and our time firmly believe that North Carolina needs — and deserves — a far, far better story for itself and its people than the one that has been coming out of Raleigh in recent years.”
“My Father, the Pornographer” is much more than a look at a man who is regarded as one of the most prolific writers of pornography. In the book, the pornographer’s son carefully goes through his father’s astonishing legacy: more than 1,800 pounds of writing. Meanwhile, he also recounts his childhood with a man whom he found terrifying. “My father was a brilliant man, a true iconoclast,” Offutt writes, “fiercely self-reliant, a dark genius, cruel, selfish, and eternally optimistic.” His memoir is a tender and compassionate book that takes on a specific premise while revealing the universal complexities of child-parent relationships and the struggle of having family members whom we must accept can never love us properly.
Award-Winning author Whitney L. Grady is author to the Young Adult adventure series "I Am Currency" where knowledge is not only power...it is currency. Her books "I Am Currency" and "Pass of the Crow-I Am Currency Book II" are available NOW everywhere books are sold! The third and final book of the series is due out this fall (2016)!
I am Currency
Would you turn in your books to a corrupt government, or would you join the Underground Book Movement? When a meteor slams into the earth causing a shift in the planet's magnetic core, the age of technology ends and economies across the globe crash. Years later, knowledge is not only power...it is currency. Bookkeepers are invaluable in this post-apocalyptic world. Nevel can never tell anyone he is a bookkeeper. His photographic memory is his secret. With a dystopian government that keeps all known books under lock and key looming as a constant threat and with parents involved as agents in the U.B.M. (Underground Book Movement) to protect the books that still secretly exist, Nevel is in a dangerous position. Never does this cause an issue until the day a fellow classmate, Quinn, appears at his door and proves to know more than she should.
1. All the Light We Cannot See Anthony Doerr, Scribner, $27, 9781476746586 2. The Nightingale Kristin Hannah, St. Martin's, $27.99, 9780312577223 3. The Swans of Fifth Avenue Melanie Benjamin, Delacorte, $28, 9780345528698 4. The Girl on the Train Paula Hawkins, Riverhead, $26.95, 9781594633669 5. Off the Grid C.J. Box, Putnam, $27, 9780399176609 6. Rogue Lawyer John Grisham, Doubleday, $28.95, 9780385539432 7. My Name Is Lucy Barton Elizabeth Strout, Random House, $26, 9781400067695 8. Midnight Sun Jo Nesbo, Knopf, $23.95, 9780385354202 9. The Widow Fiona Barton, NAL, $26, 9781101990261 10. The High Mountains of Portugal Yann Martel, Spiegel & Grau, $27, 9780812997170 11. Cometh the Hour Jeffrey Archer, St. Martin's, $27.99, 9781250061621 12. The Opposite of Everyone Joshilyn Jackson, Morrow, $26.99, 9780062105684 13. Fates and Furies Lauren Groff, Riverhead, $27.95, 9781594634475 14. Free Men Katy Simpson Smith, Harper, $26.99, 9780062407597 15. The Steel Kiss Jeffery Deaver, Grand Central, $28, 9781455536344
1. When Breath Becomes Air Paul Kalanithi, Random House, $25, 9780812988406 2. The Road to Little Dribbling Bill Bryson, Doubleday, $28.95, 9780385539289 3. Dimestore: A Writer's Life Lee Smith, Algonquin, $24.95, 9781616205027 4. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up Marie Kondo, Ten Speed Press, $16.99, 9781607747307 5. Between the World and Me Ta-Nehisi Coates, Spiegel & Grau, $24, 9780812993547 6. Being Mortal Atul Gawande, Metropolitan, $26, 9780805095159 7. My Southern Journey Rick Bragg, Oxmoor House, $27.95, 9780848746391 8. Conspiracies of the Ruling Class: How to Break Their Grip Forever Lawrence Lindsey, Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781501144233 9. Seven Brief Lessons on Physics Carlo Rovelli, Riverhead, $18, 9780399184413 10. Big Magic Elizabeth Gilbert, Riverhead, $24.95, 9781594634710 11. Dark Money Jane Mayer, Doubleday, $29.95, 9780385535595 12. On My Own Diane Rehm, Knopf, $23.95, 9781101875285 13. The Legends Club John Feinstein, Doubleday, $27.95, 9780385539418 14. In Other Words Jhumpa Lahiri, Knopf, $26.95, 9781101875551 15. Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates Brian Kilmeade, Don Yaeger, Sentinel, $27.95, 9781591848066
TRADE PAPERBACK FICTION
1. My Brilliant Friend Elena Ferrante, Europa Editions, $17, 9781609450786 2. Brooklyn Colm Toibin, Scribner, $15, 9781501106477 3. A Man Called Ove Fredrik Backman, Washington Square Press, $16, 9781476738024 4. A Little Life Hanya Yanagihara, Anchor, $17, 9780804172707 5. Me Before You Jojo Moyes, Penguin, $16, 9780143124542 6. Room Emma Donoghue, Back Bay, $16.99, 9780316391344 7. The Story of a New Name Elena Ferrante, Europa Editions, $18, 9781609451349 8. The Revenant Michael Punke, Picador USA, $16, 9781250101198 9. Orphan Train Christina Baker Kline, Morrow, $14.99, 9780061950728 10. The Great Gatsby F.Scott Fitzgerald, Scribner, $15, 9781451689433 11. The Martian Andy Weir, Broadway, $15, 9781101903582 12. Ready Player One Ernest Cline, Broadway, $16, 9780307887443 13. The Buried Giant Kazuo Ishiguro, Vintage, $16, 9780307455796 14. The Alchemist (25th Anniversary Edition) Paulo Coelho, HarperOne, $16.99, 9780062315007 15. A Paris Apartment Michelle Gable, St. Martin's Griffin, $15.99, 9781250067777
TRADE PAPERBACK NONFICTION
1. H Is for Hawk Helen Macdonald, Grove Press, $16, 9780802124739 2. The Mindfulness Coloring Book Emma Farrarons, Experiment, $9.95, 9781615192823 3. Alexander Hamilton Ron Chernow, Penguin, $20, 9780143034759 4. The Boys in the Boat Daniel James Brown, Penguin, $17, 9780143125471 5. The Big Short Michael Lewis, Norton, $15.95, 9780393353150 6. In the Garden of Beasts Erik Larson, Broadway, $16, 9780307408853 7. The Devil in the White City Erik Larson, Vintage, $16, 9780375725609 8. Doctor Who Coloring Book Price Stern Sloan, $14.99, 9780399542299 9. The Churchill Factor Boris Johnson, Riverhead Books, $18, 9781594633980 10. I Am Malala Malala Yousafzai, Back Bay, $16, 9780316322423 11. Empire of Cotton Sven Beckert, Vintage, $17.95, 9780375713965 12. Healing After Loss Martha Whitmore Hickman, Harper Perennial, $13.99, 9780380773381 13. The Mindfulness Coloring Book: Volume Two Emma Farrarons, Experiment, $9.95, 9781615193028 14. You Are a Badass Jen Sincero, Running Press, $16, 9780762447695 15. Yes Please Amy Poehler, Dey Street, $16.99, 9780062268358
1. 1984 George Orwell, Signet, $9.99, 9780451524935 2. A Game of Thrones George R.R. Martin, Bantam, $9.99, 9780553593716 3. To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee, Grand Central, $8.99, 9780446310789 4. Animal Farm George Orwell, Signet, $9.99, 9780451526342 5. Lord of the Flies William Golding, Perigee, $9.99, 9780399501487 6. The Stranger Harlan Coben, Dutton, $9.99, 9780451414137 7. The Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger, Little Brown, $8.99, 9780316769488 8. The Name of the Wind Patrick Rothfuss, DAW, $8.99, 9780756404741 9. A Clash of Kings George R.R. Martin, Bantam, $9.99, 9780345535429 10. The Diary of a Young Girl Anne Frank, Bantam, $7.99, 9780553577129
1. Pat the Bunny Dorothy Kunhardt, Golden, $9.99, 9780307120007 2. Finding Winnie Lindsay Mattick, Sophie Blackall (Illus.), Little Brown, $18, 9780316324908 3. Goodnight Moon Margaret Wise Brown, Clement Hurd (Illus.), Harper, $8.99, 9780694003617 4. Where the Wild Things Are Maurice Sendak, Harper, $18.99, 9780060254926 5. Green Eggs and Ham Dr. Seuss, Random House, $8.99, 9780394800165 6. The Day the Crayons Came Home Drew Daywalt, Oliver Jeffers (Illus.), Philomel, $18.99, 9780399172755 7. The Day the Crayons Quit Drew Daywalt, Oliver Jeffers (Illus.), Philomel, $17.99, 9780399255373 8. Easter Egg Jan Brett, Putnam, $17.99, 9780399252389 9. What Pet Should I Get? Dr. Seuss, Random House, $17.99, 9780553524260 10. Happy Easter, Curious George Margret Rey, H.A. Rey, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $9.99, 9780547048253
1. Lady Midnight Cassandra Clare, Margaret K. McElderry Books, $24.99, 9781442468351 2. Pax Sara Pennypacker, Jon Klassen (Illus.), Balzer + Bray, $16.99, 9780062377012 3. Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer Rick Riordan, Hyperion, $19.99, 9781423160915 4. Salt to the Sea Ruta Sepetys, Philomel, $18.99, 9780399160301 5. I'll Give You the Sun Jandy Nelson, Speak, $10.99, 9780142425763 6. Minecraft: Construction Handbook Matthew Needler, Phil Southam, Scholastic, $8.99, 9780545823258 7. If I Stay Gayle Forman, Speak, $10.99, 9780147514530 8. The Giver Lois Lowry, Harcourt, $9.99, 9780544340688 9. Minecraft: Redstone Handbook Nick Farwell, Scholastic, $8.99, 9780545823241 10. The One and Only Ivan Katherine Applegate, Patricia Castelao (Illus.), Harper, $7.99, 9780061992278
CHILDREN'S FICTION SERIES TITLES
1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone J.K.Rowling, Scholastic, $10.99, 9780590353427 2. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Old School Jeff Kinney, Amulet, $13.95, 9781419717017 3. The Maze Runner James Dashner, Delacorte, $10.99, 9780385385206 4. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules Jeff Kinney, Amulet, $13.95, 9780810994737 5. Big Nate Blasts Off Lincoln Peirce, Balzer + Bray, $13.99, 9780062111111 6. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Harry Potter) Newt Scamander, Arthur A. Levine Books, $9.99, 9780545850568 7. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul Jeff Kinney, Amulet, $13.95, 9781419711893 8. The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 2) Rick Riordan, Hyperion, $7.99, 9781423103349 9. Stars Above: A Lunar Chronicles Collection Marissa Meyer, Feiwel & Friends, $17.99, 9781250091840 10. The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1) Rick Riordan, Hyperion, $7.99, 9781423134947