In which Ms. Shelley Mickle remembers the woman who taught her to read, Mr. Pat Conroy remembers the teachers that saved his life, Ms. Jill Hendrix convinces her customers to take a chance on a book they might never pick up otherwise, and her ladyship, the editor, is surprised to discover that there are not too many cooks in the kitchen.
March 9, 2014
This past weekend her ladyship, the editor, spent an enjoyable day with a collection of authors and booksellers who had come together in Atlanta to discuss the many issues they face navigating the book industry, and what they might do to support each other in their mutual mission to bring great books to readers.
The first step of this process, it turns out, was to pile on a bus together…a bus with shag carpet-lined walls, leopard and zebra-print doors, disco-lighting, and very loud music dominated by bus-shaking thumping bass lines. At 8:30 in the morning.
This strange vehicle took the group (all attempting to shout over the music at each other) to a place called “The Food Movement” wherein we were all divided into teams and let loose in a restaurant kitchen to compete, Iron Chef style, in making everyone lunch. It was naturally a very literary, refined, and tasteful occasion.
Okay, perhaps not so much. Although her ladyship can testify that there was quite a bit of tasting going on.
Each group prepared their own versions of the following menu:
Cheddar Cheese Corn bread Corn Chowder with Bacon Collard Greens with sweet porkbellies Buttermilk fried chicken with Milk Gravy Peach Cobbler
The menu was of course chosen for its low-fat and healthful nature.
Everyone seemed to have their own notions of the proper way to cook a meal. Ms. Renea Winchester made sure that folks followed her grandmother’s instructions on the proper way to shave corn off the cob. Ms. Cassandra King was discovered to be an expert in the making of a good milk gravy. Ms. Connie Morrison concocted a glaze of honey and apple cider vinegar that her ladyship only hopes she wil be able to reproduce at a later date, and Mr. Tom Lowenburg turned out to be a genius at greens, forgoing the usual additions in favor of lemon and fennel.
All of which only proves that the only thing you need to face any challenge is good company, and a good southern meal.
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.
The night I grew two hearts.
What a stupid dummy-girl! Why had I not even guessed this? How had I misread all the signs? Was it only a child’s wish to have a father, to be out in the world closed to me? O! I was such a stupid puppet! Why not wail and cry and kick on the floor, screaming no, no, no; I would not have it? Ah! But you see, in that moment I understood what I always knew but now grasped in a way I could not ever have been told. I was a whore’s child. This was our world--my mother’s and mine. This was my intended occupation. who was I to flail against it? It had fed us. To be one man’s only was a prize--to be a courtesan! O! Poor stupid mother! This was what she chose as best for me.
Quietly I turned and went out of the room, my feet and hands marble. My very breath narrowed to a wheeze. My world had stopped, and I slid off. Until I could find another to climb onto, I would keep my life in its ice bucket. That night, I grew two hearts. There was the one, open as ever to whoever walked by. The other, darkly labeled, No Entry. This was where I carved out a sacred spot--where no one had a right to look into. I myself guarded it furiously. My holy of holies. At least this part of me could never be sold.
--Shelley Mickle, The Occupation of Eliza Goode (Koehler Books, 2014)
The teachers of my life saved my life and sent me out prepared for whatever life I was meant to lead. Like everyone else, I had some bad ones and mediocre ones, but I never had one that I thought was holding me back because of idleness or thoughtlessness. They spent their lives with the likes of me and I felt safe during the time they spent with me. The best of them made me want to be just like them. I wanted young kids to look at me the way I looked at the teachers who loved me. Loving them was not difficult for a boy like me. They lit a path for me and one that I followed with joy.
Ken Grossman, co-founder of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and author of “Beyond the Pale,” and novelist Cassandra King, author of “Moonrise,” will be the featured speakers at the sixth annual Blue Ridge Bookfest at Blue Ridge Community College on April 25 and 26. The theme for the 2014 festival is “Tell Us Your Story.”
Charleston cookbook author Brys Stephens has some intriguing ideas about what modern Southern cooking should be, and he's captured them in The New Southern Table: Classic Ingredients Revisited. "It's not a menu of what the new Southern classics are," he says. "It's more a comment on or a snapshot of where I think Southern cooking is heading." And where he sees it heading is quite different from where it was in the past.
In a lot of ways, Perry’s novel can be read as perhaps the strongest statement yet about the new middle-American “normal.” Sat alongside Tim McLaurin’s woefully under-read 1989 novel, Woodrow’s Trumpet, Kids These Days bookends the experience of suburban sprawl in the changing South of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. But Perry does even more than that with Kids. In a novel that is always serious without ever seeming austere, that is incredibly funny without ever once making me laugh, Perry explores the odd tensions at play in each of our everyday lives. He examines what it means to suddenly become aware of one’s duty to others, and how even this seemingly appropriate impulse can be perverted into something self-serving. This is a book full of uncertainties, and the way in which Perry plays with names and naming throughout the novel does an incredible job of looking at how we deal with uncertainty, how we attempt to create new presents and (hopefully!) new futures by changing what things are called. 9781616201715
Robin Young visited Jackson a few months ago, and during her trip went to the home of Southern writer Eudora Welty. Welty’s niece, Mary Alice Welty, took Young on a tour of the house, which Welty lived in from 1925 until her death in 2001. The home includes Welty’s substantial library, which Mary Alice Welty says is a major draw for visitors. “They want to read all the titles,” she said. “They want to see what Eudora enjoyed reading.” 9781617031199
What are "STARS" authors? These are authors listing in the Southern Traveling Authors Registration Service--a directory of authors who live in, or are traveling in the South and are interested in meeting with book clubs, civic groups, classrooms, and readers of all kinds. The STARS directory is brought to you by Southern Indie Booksellers, who want to connect readers with their favorite writers.
I love to play bridge or just about any card game, love to dance, love to sing and play piano. I have three sons and three grandchildren and when we are all together, we love to play charades. I write and publish poetry, short stories, memoir and novels. My first book, At Home in the Land of Oz: Autism, My Sister and Me (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London), has been called a "beautiful book about autism" by poet Stephen Smith and Fred Chappell says "Barnhill writes economically, cleanly and frankly and her words will go to the heart of every reader." My short story collection, What You Long For, is due out in Spring 09, from Main Street Publishing.
“AT HOME IN THE LAND OF OZ tells the story of a family striving to keep a perilous balance while nurturing an autistic member. It is first of all just that, a story filled with suspense, humor, empathy, frustration, triumph and heartbreak. Anne Barnhill writes economically, cleanly, and frankly and her words will go to the heart of every reader. From her pages I learned that endurance can be the most important component of courage. And I learned in a most entertaining way.” Fred Chappell, Bollingen Prize-winning author of I Am One of You Forever
“…a story that deserves a far brighter and higher billing than the kind of easy, happy, feel good non-fiction that often tops best-seller lists. This is because her story deals with those quiet heroics that many families and individuals face while they hide away in pain and misunderstanding. In facing autism full on, Ms. Barnhill has demonstrated how humans can love each other in unspeakable ways, learning languages as well as contours of certain rooms of the heart that some of us are never fortunate enough to know.” Clyde Edgerton, professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, and author of Walking Across Egypt
“In this book about crossing barriers and making connections, Anne Barnhill gives us a vivid and wrenching account of her sister’s struggle with autism. It is a story of kinship, intimacy and affection, and one of the barriers it breaks through is with the reader, connecting us with the pain and victories of a life, a family.” Robert Morgan, author of Gap Creek
See the full list of authors in the STARS Program online here and find the authors touring in your area here
Fiction Addiction owner Jill Hendrix had just finished “The Martian” by Andy Weir, a hilarious debut novel about an astronaut who gets stranded on Mars. “The idea is he gets left for dead on Mars, and then it becomes a survival/adventure story,” Hendrix says. “It’s kind of like MacGyver meets Apollo 13.”
Hendrix loved the book. It was hard not to as a science fiction fan. So she coerced her friends, her husband, brother and mother, who doesn’t normally read science fiction, into reading it. Then she thought about her customers and how many would never buy it just because of the title or cover. She decided to propose a deal. In an email to customers, Hendrix laid out her quandary, asking, “What I want to know is whether you’ll agree to pre-order this book, sight unseen, just based on our love for it.” 9780804139021
Jolie Hoyt is a good Southern girl living in Hendrix, a small Florida Panhandle town. All too aware of her family’s closet full of secrets and long-held distrust of outsiders, Jolie throws caution to the wind when she meets Sam Lense, a Jewish anthropology student from Miami, who is in town to study the ethnic makeup of the region. Jolie and Sam fall recklessly in love, but their affair ends abruptly when Sam is discovered to have pried too deeply into Hendrix’s dark racial history and he becomes the latest victim in a long tradition of small-town violence. Twelve years later, Jolie and Sam are forced to revisit the unresolved issues of their young love and finally shed light on the ugly history of Jolie’s hometown. A complex and compulsively readable Southern saga, American Ghost is a richly woven exploration of how the events of our past haunt our present.
In 1946, a young female attorney from New York City attempts the impossible: attaining justice for a black man in the Deep South.
Regina Robichard works for Thurgood Marshall, who receives an unusual letter asking the NAACP to investigate the murder of a returning black war hero. It is signed by M. P. Calhoun, the most reclusive author in the country.
As a child, Regina was captivated by Calhoun's "The Secret of Magic," a novel in which white and black children played together in a magical forest.
Once down in Mississippi, Regina finds that nothing in the South is as it seems. She must navigate the muddy waters of racism, relationships, and her own tragic past. "The Secret of Magic" brilliantly explores the power of stories and those who tell them.
Moore is a master of the short story and it has been sixteen years since her last short story collection (Birds of America) was published. A lot can happen in sixteen years. In 1998, no one had heard of Barack Obama or Facebook, the economic downturn had not yet taken its toll, and the events of September 11, 2001 could hardly have been imagined.
The stories in Bark, which have appeared individually in various magazines and are now collected into a whole, show just how much the world has changed. In “Subject to Search,” you will find allusions to the Abu Ghraib torture scandal. “Foes” revolves around the polarizing politics of 21st century America. In “Thank You for Having Me,” a character, saddened by the death of Michael Jackson says, “I tried to think positively. ‘Well, at least Whitney Houston didn’t die,’ I said to someone on the the phone.” And yet, those concrete examples of the date and time, or the passage of time as it were, are only part of the issue. Lorrie Moore’s wonderfully-written dialogue simply wouldn’t sound right in a story from another time. There is something intangible yet undeniably effective in the way Moore portrays us.
It is us, after all, that she’s writing about. We’re there, in her words. Her characters struggle through dating after divorce, marriage before divorce, and parenting alone. 9780307594136
I wonder how many of you remember the person who taught you how to read?
For me, it was my grandmother, whom I called Chate. Her real name was Kate, but I couldn’t pronounce that. She entered our house calling “Yoohoo!” and swept me up in a hug and measured me against her waist. On a good day, she came in at five feet. I thought that clearly she was circus material and wondered why she’d settled for an everyday life.
She tinted her permed gray hair pine-needle red and fixed it in a style similar to a pot scrubber. Often I tied her up to a chair to practice my cowboy skills. And since she talked of snakes and cats in the same breath, I put my tom cat in the bed with her to watch her come “whooping” out in her nightgown. Each afternoon, when I was five, my grandmother and I lay on the double bed in my room with a book propped up.
As she read, I’d study the black squiggles on the page and wonder who decided which word should mean what? Was there someone in the sky, alongside the God who made us, who decided what we would call things? Was there an appointed Communications Bureau Chief who said a rope should be a rope and not a tire? Or a tire a tire and not be known as a chicken? My parents had named me, so was there someone who named all things? Who was in charge of these stories on pages that came to me on my grandmother’s voice?
My grandmother didn’t need to search around for an answer. “God,” she said. “God made the words. All the words. God made everything.”
1. The Goldfinch Donna Tartt, Little Brown, $30, 9780316055437 2. The Invention of Wings Sue Monk Kidd, Viking, $27.95, 9780670024780 3. Sycamore Row John Grisham, Doubleday, $28.95, 9780385537131 4. Bark: Stories Lorrie Moore, Knopf, $24.95, 9780307594136 5. This Dark Road to Mercy Wiley Cash, Morrow, $25.99, 9780062088253 6. The Husband's Secret Liane Moriarty, Amy Einhorn Books, $25.95, 9780399159343 7. Still Life With Bread Crumbs Anna Quindlen, Random House, $26, 9781400065752 8. The Museum of Extraordinary Things Alice Hoffman, Scribner, $27.99, 9781451693560 9. Tiger Shrimp Tango Tim Dorsey, Morrow, $25.99, 9780062092816 10. Under the Wide and Starry Sky Nancy Horan, Ballantine, $26, 9780345516534 11. One More Thing B.J. Novak, Knopf, $24.95, 9780385351836 12. Ripper Isabel Allende, Harper, $28.99, 9780062291400 13. An Officer and a Spy Robert Harris, Knopf, $27.95, 9780385349581 14. The Circle Dave Eggers, Knopf, $27.95, 9780385351393 15. The Kept James Scott, Harper, $25.99, 9780062236739
1. Things That Matter Charles Krauthammer, Crown Forum, $28, 9780385349178 2. Everything I Need to Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book Diane Muldrow, Golden Books, $9.99, 9780307977618 3. The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind Michio Kaku, Doubleday, $28.95, 9780385530828 4. The Southerner's Handbook: A Guide to Living the Good Life Garden & Gun Magazine, HarperWave, $27.99, 9780062242389 5. The Boys in the Boat Daniel James Brown, Viking, $28.95, 9780670025817 6. The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet Mark Hyman, Little Brown, $28, 9780316230025 7. Unbroken Laura Hillenbrand, Random House, $28, 9781400064168 8. Glitter and Glue Kelly Corrigan, Ballantine, $26, 9780345532831 9. I Am Malala Malala Yousafzai, Little Brown, $26, 9780316322409 10. The Virgin Diet Cookbook: 150 Easy and Delicious Recipes to Lose Weight and Feel Better Fast J.J. Virgin, Grand Central, $28, 9781455577798 11. My Promised Land Ari Shavit, Spiegel & Grau, $28, 9780385521703 12. Stitches Anne Lamott, Riverhead, $17.95, 9781594632587 13. HRC Jonathan Allen, Amie Parnes, Crown, $26, 9780804136754 14. Duty Robert M. Gates, Knopf, $35, 9780307959478 15. Where Nobody Knows Your Name: Life in the Minor Leagues of Baseball John Feinstein, Doubleday, $26.95, 9780385535939
TRADE PAPERBACK FICTION
1. Life After Life Kate Atkinson, Back Bay, $18, 9780316176491 2. A Land More Kind Than Home Wiley Cash, Morrow, $14.99, 9780062088239 3. Where'd You Go, Bernadette Maria Semple, Back Bay, $14.99, 9780316204262 4. Dear Life Alice Munro, Vintage, $15.95, 9780307743725 5. Cockroaches Jo Nesbo, Vintage, $14.95, 9780345807151 6. Me Before You Jojo Moyes, Penguin, $16, 9780143124542 7. The Aviator's Wife Melanie Benjamin, Bantam, $15, 9780345528681 8. The Light Between Oceans M.L. Stedman, Scribner, $16, 9781451681758 9. Orphan Train Christina Baker Kline, Morrow, $14.99, 9780061950728 10. Beautiful Ruins Jess Walter, Harper Perennial, $15.99, 9780061928178 11. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena Anthony Marra, Hogarth, $15, 9780770436421 12. Tenth of December George Saunders, Random House, $15, 9780812984255 13. The Son Philipp Meyer, Ecco, $16.99, 9780062120403 14. A Tale for the Time Being Ruth L. Ozeki, Penguin, $16, 9780143124870 15. Life After Life Jill McCorkle, Shannon Ravenel Books, $14.95, 9781616203221
TRADE PAPERBACK NONFICTION
1. The Monuments Men Robert M. Edsel, Back Bay, $17, 9780316240055 2. Dance of the Reptiles Carl Hiaasen, Vintage, $15.95, 9780345807021 3. Quiet Susan Cain, Broadway, $16, 9780307352156 4. Wild Cheryl Strayed, Vintage, $15.95, 9780307476074 5. Hyperbole and a Half Allie Brosh, Touchstone, $17.99, 9781451666175 6. Philomena Martin Sixsmith, Penguin, $16, 9780143124726 7. Proof of Heaven Eben Alexander, M.D., S&S, $15.99, 9781451695199 8. Lone Survivor Marcus Luttrell, Back Bay, $17, 9780316324106 9. The 5 Love Languages Gary Chapman, Northfield, $14.99, 9780802473158 10. The Wolf of Wall Street Jordan Belfort, Bantam, $16, 9780345549334 11. 12 Years a Slave Solomon Northup, Penguin, $16, 9780143125419 12. Orange Is the New Black Piper Kerman, Spiegel & Grau, $16, 9780812986181 13. Detroit: An American Autopsy Charlie LeDuff, Penguin, $17, 9780143124467 14. My Beloved World Sonia Sotomayor, Vintage, $15.95, 9780345804839 15. Outliers Malcolm Gladwell, Back Bay, $16.99, 9780316017930
1. The Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger, Little Brown, $6.99, 9780316769488 2. The Monuments Men Robert M. Edsel, Little Brown, $10, 9780316240079 3. Six Years Harlan Coben, Signet, $9.99, 9780451414113 4. Ender's Game Orson Scott Card, Tor, $7.99, 9780765370624 5. To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee, Grand Central, $7.99, 9780446310789 6. Lord of the Flies William Golding, Berkley, $9.99, 9780399501487 7. All Quiet on the Western Front Erich Maria Remarque, Ballantine, $6.99, 9780449213940 8. Seven Grams of Lead Keith Thomson, Anchor, $7.99, 9780307949905 9. 1984 George Orwell, Signet, $9.99, 9780451524935 10. Unintended Consequences Stuart Woods, Signet, $9.99, 9780451414397
1. Goodnight Moon Margaret Wise Brown, Clement Hurd (Illus.), Harper, $8.99, 9780694003617 2. The Day the Crayons Quit Drew Daywalt, Oliver Jeffers (Illus.), Philomel, $17.99, 9780399255373 3. Green Eggs and Ham Dr. Seuss, Random House, $8.99, 9780394800165 4. Where the Wild Things Are Maurice Sendak, Harper, $18.99, 9780060254926 5. Frozen Victoria Saxon, Grace Lee (Illus.), Random House/Disney, $3.99, 9780736430517 6. The Cat in the Hat Dr. Seuss, Random House, $8.99, 9780394800011 7. The Lorax Dr.Seuss, Random House, $14.95, 9780394823379 8. Pete the Cat: Big Easter Adventure Kimberly Dean, James Dean, Harper, $9.99, 9780062198679 9. Oh, the Places You'll Go! Dr. Seuss, Random House, $17.99, 9780679805274 10. Love You Forever Robert Munsch, Sheila McGraw (Illus.), Firefly, $5.95, 9780920668375
1. The Fault in Our Stars John Green, Dutton, $17.99, 9780525478812 2. The Book Thief Markus Zusak, Knopf, $12.99, 9780385754729 3. Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures Kate DiCamillo, K.G. Campbell (Illus.), Candlewick, $17.99, 9780763660406 4. Looking for Alaska John Green, Speak, $9.99, 9780142402511 5. Wonder R.J. Palacio, Knopf, $15.99, 9780375869020 6. The Giver Lois Lowry, Laurel-Leaf, $6.99, 9780440237686 7. An Abundance of Katherines John Green, Speak, $9.99, 9780142410707 8. Three Times Lucky Sheila Turnage, Puffin, $7.99, 9780142426050 9. The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing Sheila Turnage, Kathy Dawson Books, $16.99, 9780803736719 10. The Phantom Tollbooth Norton Juster, Jules Feiffer (Illus.), Yearling, $6.99, 9780394820378
CHILDREN'S FICTION SERIES TITLES
1. Divergent Veronica Roth, Katherine Tegen Books, $9.99, 9780062289858 2. Insurgent (Divergent, #2) Veronica Roth, Katherine Tegen Books, $17.99, 9780062024046 3. Allegiant (Divergent, #3) Veronica Roth, Katherine Tegen Books, $19.99, 9780062024060 4. Hollow City (The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children) Ransom Riggs, Quirk, $17.99, 9781594746123 5. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck Jeff Kinney, Amulet, $13.95, 9781419711329 6. Pete the Cat: Cool for School (My First I Can Read Series) James Dean, Harper, $3.99, 9780062110756 7. Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games) Suzanne Collins, Scholastic, $12.99, 9780545586177 8. Timmy Failure: Now Look What You've Done Stephan Pastis, Candlewick, $14.99, 9780763660512 9. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Ransom Riggs, Quirk, $10.99, 9781594746031 10. Dinosaurs Before Dark (Magic Tree House #1) Mary Pope Osborne, Sal Murdocca (Illus.), Random House, $4.99, 9780679824114