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May 24, 2020

There is a story in every one of these...
In which Ms. Lisa Wingate finds inspiration and heartbreak in classified ads seeking missing people, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi, recommends a not-your-average Beach Read, and Ms. Caroline B. Cooney talks about the strange way of life that is a Sun City Retirement Community.
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Dearest Readers
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Lost Friends

In 2107 Lisa Wingate published Before We Were Yours, a novel based on a true story about a Memphis-based adoption organization that kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families in 2017. One of the people who read the book was Diane Plauche, who found much of the story achingly familiar.

Lost Friends

Plauche is a volunteer with the Historic New Orleans Collection museum. In 2015, she began assisting the museum in creating a database of historical Lost Friends advertisements, through which formerly enslaved people desperately tried to find their lost families in the decades following emancipation. To date, Diane has entered over 2500 unique ads, and tens of thousands of names in the museum's database, preserving the histories of thousands of families. Plauche wrote to Wingate about the project, saying "There is a story in each one of these ads."

Wingate agreed. Her new novel, The Book of Lost Friends, was just released last month.

Lost Friends Lost FriendsLost Friends

On Thursday, May 28 at 7:00 pm the Reader Meet Writer Author Series will host a special online event with Lisa Wingate and Diane Plauche, in conversation with the author Kristy Woodson Harvey. They will be discussion Wingate's new novel, and the little-known facet of American life that inspired it.

Tickets are available at the following bookstores:


The Haunted Book Shop, Mobile, AL
The Snail on the Wall, Huntsville, AL

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Fort Smith, AR

Books and Books @ the Studios, ‎Key West, FL
Copperfish Books, Punta Gorda, FL
Oxford Exchange, Tampa, FL

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Douglasville, GA
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Savannah, GA
Righton Books, St. Simons Island, GA

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., St. Francisville, LA
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., New Orleans, LA
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., New Orleans, LA

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Morganton, NC
The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC
Duck's Cottage, Manteo, NC
Malaprops Bookstore, Asheville, NC
Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Elizabeth City, NC
Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Salisbury, NC
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., High Point, NC

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Charleston, SC
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Summerville, SC

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Memphis, TN

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Orange, VA
Read Books, Virginia Beach, VA

 

her ladyship, the editor

Lady Banks Pick of the Week

Lady Banks Commonplace Book

Lady Banks Commonplace Book

Excerpted noteworthy poetry and prose from her ladyship's bedside reading stack.

Boys of Alabama by Genevieve Hudson
Liveright, May, 2020
Buy it here

Through the eyes of a conflicted and deeply confused protagonist, Genevieve Hudson brings to life a brutal yet spellbinding exploration of teenage masculinity, and the horrors that it is capable of setting loose. In her haunting debut novel - part coming-of-age, part Southern gothic, part queer lit - she highlights the fear and excitement, the love and the loss, that inevitably accompanies being a new face in a new place. On the surface, it's a familiar story. But with layers of Hudson's compulsive and subtle prose, vivid characterizations of the American South, and bone-chilling imagery that will leave you clenching your jaw, this novel feels as new to the literary landscape as Max is to America. It's already one of my favorite books of 2020, and Genevieve Hudson has solidified a spot at the top of my list of favorite new writers.
--Gage Tarlton, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC

From the plane, Alabama unfurled in green fields and thick forests, wilder than Max had pictured. Trees went in all directions and houses were hidden among them. He touched his nose to the glass window. The aerial engines whirred. The plan banked against a shelf of sky. The landing gear slammed into place and his mother, the fearful flyer, gripped the hand rest between them. She slid her fingers over the back of Max's wrists. They descended over a neighborhood of slanted clapboard shacks that leaned toward one and other, strewn junk going rotten in the yards.

You've got the good seat, said his father. The plane lowered and lowered. Front row to the action.

In the airport Max's family bought sweet tea served in Styrofoam cups so big he had to hold his with both hands. He drank half of it and felt high. Sugar soared through him. He bought a disposable camera in the terminal kiosk from a man with marble eyes and a baseball cap with an Alabama A. Max had attended an exhibition in Berlin the previous month where an artist made collages out of pictures developed from a disposable camera and construction paper. The fuzzy low-res images had created a nostalgic quality out of dried toast and lonely mandarins. Max held the green plastic camera in his hand. Its picture quality would pale in comparison to the power of his phone. And that was the point. Max wanted to document the drive to his new home. He wanted the pictures he took to look sentimental and unsettled.

This Week on Reader Meet Writer

Reader Meet Writer

Visit your local bookstore for more information on future events. See past events below:

Caroline B. Cooney has been a beloved bestselling author since she first published The Face on the Milk Carton 20 years ago. Here she talks about her new novel, Before She Was Helen, about leaving a life behind, becoming someone new, and what happens when a carefully constructed lie finally falls apart.:

Reader Meet Writer: Caroline B. Cooney

Before She Was Helen is a Spring Okra Pick and was originally scheduled to be published in May. Like many things, the book's publication was delayed, and it will now be released in September. If you've watched the video, you're already dying to read the book RIGHT NOW, darn it! Click here to read the first chapter. And indulge yourself and pre-order the book. It will be a happy surprise when it lands on your door step in a couple months.

See more on the Reader Meet Writer playlist


Read This!

Reviewed by Booksellers

Books with Street Cred, Reviewed by Southern Booksellers

The Summer of Km NovakBeach Read by Emily Henry
June, 2020

Reviewed by Sami Thomason, Square Books, Oxford, MS
Buy

Crack open your cold drink of choice and settle in-once you start Beach Read, you'll be powerless to stop. Equal parts poignant and romantic, Henry pulls together two flawed writers and has them challenge each other into being their best selves by taking a chance on a new style of writing (and each other). Although not as breezy as the name suggests, this book deals with grief, love, and second chances in a really cathartic way. Add in the whip-smart banter of two English majors and you have essentially a book made to provoke laughter, tears, and heartfelt sighs.


A BurningA Burning by Megha Majumdar, June, 2020
Reviewed by Stuart McCommon, novel, Nashville, TN
Buy

A Burning is a thrilling read. Set in modern-day India and told from the perspective of three different characters, this book plunged me into the deepest areas of contemplation. A young girl wrongfully convicted of terrorism, a transgender aspiring actress, and a gym-teacher-turned-politician all struggle to work their way out of abject poverty by straddling the blurry line between innocence and guilt. Their decisions of self-preservation and supposed need test the boundaries of love as well as class inequality. I found this book to be nothing short of extraordinary. Though distressing at times, seeing each character’s moral development change through the chapters made the storyline incredibly engaging.


The Only Good IndiansThe Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones, May, 2020
Reviewed by Caleb Masters, Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC
Buy

Jones’ masterful horror novel tells the story of four Blackfeet Indians who are relentlessly pursued by the spirit of a death they all had a hand in ten years ago. The Only Good Indians takes form methodically with the reader slowly gaining a wider understanding of the threat that hunts our characters; every passage builds on the last until the novel’s ferocious finale. Beautifully written and full of impactful scares, The Only Good Indians is a wonderful piece of horror fiction about the past and the ways it can, sometimes literally, come back to haunt us.


The Okra Picks

Okra Picks

Great new Southern books, picked by Southern booksellers.

Boys of Alabama by Genevieve Hudson
Liveright, May, 2020
Buy it here

"Max moves to Alabama from Germany with his parents and quickly takes a liking to his new home. He joins the football team, where he learns to play the game and is quickly brought into the social fold. He also meets Pan, a cross-dressing, self-proclaimed witch and the two begin a close relationship on the fringes of the social order in town. Max has a magical secret that could be dangerous for him if it's found out and is torn between two ways of thought as they pull him in opposite directions. Genevieve Hudson has created something really great, which holds onto the literary traditions of Southern Gothic, while expanding the genre to become relevant to our times. A beautiful and exquisite book."
~ Carl Kranz, Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA


In this bewitching debut novel, a sensitive teen, newly arrived in Alabama, falls in love, questions his faith, and navigates a strange power. While his German parents don't know what to make of a South pining for the past, shy Max thrives in the thick heat. Taken in by the football team, he learns how to catch a spiraling ball, how to point a gun, and how to hide his innermost secrets.

Max already expects some of the raucous behavior of his new, American friends—like their insatiable hunger for the fried and cheesy, and their locker room talk about girls. But he doesn't expect the comradery—or how quickly he would be welcomed into their world of basement beer drinking. In his new canvas pants and thickening muscles, Max feels like he's "playing dress-up." That is until he meets Pan, the school "witch," in Physics class: "Pan in his all black. Pan with his goth choker and the gel that made his hair go straight up." Suddenly, Max feels seen, and the pair embarks on a consuming relationship: Max tells Pan about his supernatural powers, and Pan tells Max about the snake poison initiations of the local church. The boys, however, aren't sure whose past is darker, and what is more frightening—their true selves, or staying true in Alabama.

Writing in verdant and visceral prose that builds to a shocking conclusion, Genevieve Hudson "brilliantly reinvents the Southern Gothic, mapping queer love in a land where God, guns, and football are king" (Leni Zumas, author of Red Clocks). Boys of Alabama becomes a nuanced portrait of masculinity, religion, immigration, and the adolescent pressures that require total conformity.

More Okra Picks


The Southern Independent Bestseller List

southern bestseller list

For the week ending May 17, 2020

HARDCOVER FICTION

1. Camino Winds John Grisham, Doubleday, $28.95, 9780385545938
2. The Book of Longings Sue Monk Kidd, Viking, $28, 9780525429760
3. Hello, Summer Mary Kay Andrews, St. Martin's Press, $28.99, 9781250256928
4. The Glass Hotel Emily St.John Mandel, Knopf, $26.95, 9780525521143
5. All Adults Here Emma Straub, Riverhead Books, $27, 9781594634697

HARDCOVER NONFICTION

1. Untamed Glennon Doyle, The Dial Press, $28, 9781984801258
2. The Splendid and the Vile Erik Larson, Crown, $32, 9780385348713
3. Hidden Valley Road Robert Kolker, Doubleday, $29.95, 9780385543767
4. Educated Tara Westover, Random House, $28, 9780399590504
5. Mosquito Supper Club: Cajun Recipes from a Disappearing Bayou Melissa M. Martin, Artisan, $35, 9781579658472

See what's special to the Southern List!

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Lady Banks is sponsored by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, in support of independent bookstores in the South | SIBA | 51 Pleasant Ridge Drive | Asheville, NC 28805

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