- Published on Monday, 28 April 2008 13:09
|The Lady Banks Commonplace Book|
March may be a time of lions and lambs, but for her ladyship it is the time when the mornings are at last warm enough to sit on her front porch steps with a cup of coffee and a stack of good books. At the top of the stack this month is A Miracle of Catfish, the novel by Larry Brown, posthumously published by Algonquin Books at Chapel Hill. Her ladyship has always found the writer’s work to be most vivid and moving, so the experience of reading this book is rather bittersweet. Sweet, because the author’s raw storytelling power is evident from the first sentence of the first page. Bitter, because the novel is unfinished—every included elipses, hints to parts missing or cut—seems a sign of all the stories the author will never get a chance to write.
Even in its unfinished state, A Miracle of Catfish may be the best novel published this month. Her ladyship is of thee opinion that Larry Brown was one of this country’s greatest writers, and we were sadly unaware of our good fortune until it was taken away. She encourages you, dear reader, to find all of his books and see if you don’t agree:
There are hundreds of author events at independent bookstores across the South every month. We have listed some of the highlights below, but you will want to see the entire list at Authors 'Round the South:
L. Shannon Andersen (The Magdalene Awakening) will be coming to Muse Book Shop (Deland, FL)
March 17, Saturday, 10:30-11:30
Kathy Wood will show her new spring collection of clothes for the American Girls dolls. Girls and their dolls (and parents) are invited to attend.
Writers’ Week 2007, March 12 – 16
The Department of Creative Writing at UNCW will host the Writers’ Week Symposium March 12 – 16, 2007, with keynote guest Susan Orlean reading from her work on Mon., March 12, at 8 p.m. in Kenan Auditorium on the UNCW campus. This event brings together visiting writers of local and national interest, UNCW students and members of the general public with interest in literature and writing. Activities throughout the week will include workshops, panels, readings and manuscript conferences.
Literary news and gossip of interest
Her ladyship was pleased to note two booksellers whose establishments merited some attention in the newspapers. Myra Meade, owner of Hall Book Exchange and Mt. Yonah Book Exchange is profiled in the White County News. Jerry Brown, owner of The Bookstore in Radcliffe, KY describes his store's evolution in an article in The News Enterprise.
She was also rather amused to hear that her friends at Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, carried away with enthusiasm for one of their upcoming releases, inadvertently alarmed both the police and fans of Edith Wharton by implying they had plans to burn down her house.
Also of note--her ladyship loves to read literary magazines, and often regrets the sad truth that such publications are frequently ignored or passed over in the market place. So she was naturally delighted to discover storySouth an online magazine with excellent editorial standards which features new works by many fine authors often to be found giving readings and workshops at independent bookstores. She was even more delighted when, upon a simple request from her ladyship, the editorial staff most obligingly adopted a policy of linking to Southern independent bookstores wherever appropriate. The winter issue has just been published.
(the books that booksellers tell other booksellers to read--from Book Sense and SIBA)
March may be the season for lions and lambs, but in SIBA territory it is the time when the nominees are announced for the SIBA Book of the Year. Her ladyship loves the long list of nominated titles; it is an eclectic collection of favorite books chosen by an eclectic and enthusiatic group of passionate readers. She highly recommends the nominees as a resource for book clubs and reading groups who are considering the choices for their next year's reading list.
HALSEY'S TYPHOON: The True Story of a Fighting Admiral, an Epic Storm, and an Untold Rescue
THE BUZZWORD DICTIONARY: 1,000 Phrases Translated from Pompous to English
IF YOU LIVED HERE: A Novel
YOU DON'T LOVE ME YET: A Novel
From the Bookseller Blogs**:
I am keeping myself submerged in the Fountain of Reading, as I’ve wanted to do since marrying a woman who read 268 books last year and 28 (we think) this January. But I’d been running a little dry on things that got me excited as a reader. Now I’ve struck gold. . . Thirteen Bullets is not a zombie novel. It’s a vampire novel. It’s also a very and hair-raising thriller. The vampires here are not of the sexy come-hither variety that’s so popular these days but vicious horrifying subhuman cannibals. They’re tall, pale, hairless, and red-eyed, and they carry an amazing array of teeth. They don’t care about crosses, and they’re nearly impossible to kill. Thirteen Bullets opens with U. S. Marshal Jameson Arkeley, his partner, and a full SWAT team taking on a single vampire. Only Arkeley survives. Twenty years later (during which it is thought vampires have become extinct), a Pennsylvania State Trooper named Laura Caxton makes a most unpleasant discovery at a DUI checkpoint. . .read more!
I spent my Sunday morning reading The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, which was just recently released. It's a moody, mysterious, and thoroughly wonderful story told in words and in marvelous pencil drawings about a boy named Hugo who lives inside the walls of a train station in Paris in the 1930s. He lives inside the walls because he takes care of all the station clocks. This unusual novel explores the early history of cinema in France and the United States. It's well worth the hour or two it takes to read the 544 pages (remember, there are illustrations--and plenty of white space). . .read more!
From A Reading Life by Nicki Leone, SIBA
Recipe for boiled peanuts:
From Lady Banks’ Commonplace Book
What I recognized first was the smell. Despite having been closed up for years, the house had the same rush of pine and cedar it always had, a fragrance I hanve never smelled anywhere else, ever—one of absolute belonging.
A light came on, then another.
Almost nothing had altered since I’d last been inside, nine or ten years before. Grandmama had been alive then, and one could think now that she wasn’t far awar. Her Belongings—vinyl sofa and chairs bought in the early ‘70s, pictures of her children’s families, gilded lamps, the same candy dishes—were a study in life interrupted. Whatnots, including a ceramic bluebird on a limb and an ashtray shaped in the form of a coiled snake, lined the low wall between the two living rooms. A life-size ceramic owl hung from the ceiling. Hushs of dead insects that had been trapped inside littered the rust-colored carpet. Every expposed surface was coated with a film of dust, including the lacy drapes, which would not survive a washing. When I reached for one of the plastic yellow roses on thhe end table, it disintigrated at the touch.
“The old house needs a lot of work,” Uncle Percy said then, affectionately. “Nobody’s even been in here in I don’t know how many years.”
From Wild Card Quilt by Janisse Ray (Milkweed Editions, 2003)
About Lady Banks' Commonplace Book
Lady Banks' Commonplace Book is a newsletter for people interested in Southern literature, sponsored by booksellers who are members of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) and featuring an overview of literary news and events as found on Authors 'Round the South.
Commonplace books first appeared during the Renaissance, where they were used as a way to deal the information overload of that era. They helped students select and organize tidbits of interest--medical recipes, quotes, letters, poems, proverbs, prayers, legal formulas. Commonplaces were used by readers, writers and students, and each commonplace book was unique to its owner.
The Lady Banks climbing rose (Rosa banksaie) is ubiquitous throughout the South. It is one of the first roses to bloom in the spring, with its abundant yellow blossoms weighing down its thornless canes. Lady Banks roses have a sweet fragrance and can be found both in the carefully attended gardens of restored antebellum houses and in the ditches along country roads.
To submit news or reviews, please email her ladyship, the editor