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Week of August 26, 2019
The Commonplace Book | Read This! | {Book} Trailer Park | Okra Picks | Southern Indie Bestsellers | Events
{On the trickiness and thorniness of place.}
In which it is made clear that Parnassus Books is not Amazon, thank goodness; ten writers are in the running for 365 glasses of wine, and Ms. Sarah M. Groom discusses the trickiness and thorniness of place, and what it means to be "rooted."

2019 Conroy Legacy Award 

Dearest Readers


Crook's Corner LonglistLast week the Crook's Corner Book Prize Foundation announced its 2020 Longlist for best debut novel set in the American South. Readers will find many of the books on the list familiar -- they show up on the Okra Picks lists and recommended staff picks from Southern independent bookstores.

There are many book prizes and book awards out there, but this particular one is a special favorite of her ladyship, the editor: firstly, because it if for debut fiction and seeks to recognize emerging writers. "Nothing is more thrilling than to discover a bright new talent," says Ana Hayes, president of the Foundation. Last year's award went to one of her ladyship's favorite books: Margaret Wilkerson Sexton's A Kind of Freedom.

Secondly, the award is sponsored by the Crook's Corner restaurant in Chapel Hill, in emulation of other literary prizes gives by famous Parisian cafés. Crook's Corner was founded by the late and very great Bill Neal, and their recipe for shrimp and grits remains the gold standard for, well, everyone, everywhere.

And thirdly, the winning writer receives, aside from a cash prize, a free glass of wine at the restaurant every day for a year. It is a Book Prize with a solid grasp of the important things in life.


The Deeper Water the Uglier the FishHaph & HazardThe GulfConfessions of an Innocent ManTreeborne
The Atlas of Reds and Blues
Where the Crawdads SingWe Cast a ShadowSugar LandLot


Read independently, and shop local.

her ladyship, the editar
her ladyship, the editor
Lady Banks' Pick of the Week
Lady Banks' Commonplace Book
Excerpted noteworthy poetry and prose from her ladyship's bedside reading stack.

The Yellow HouseFrom high up, fifteen thousand feet above, where the aerial photographs are taken, 4121 Wilson Avenue, the address I know best, is a minuscule point, a scab of green. In satellite images shot from higher still, my former street dissolves into the toe of Louisiana’s boot. From this vantage point, our address, now mite size, would appear to sit in the Gulf of Mexico. Distance lends perspective, but it can also shade, misinterpret. From these great heights, my brother Carl would not be seen.

Carl, who is also my brother Rabbit, sits his days and nights away at 4121 Wilson Avenue at least five times a week after working his maintenance job at NASA or when he is not fishing or near to the water where he loves to be. Four thousand fifteen days past the Water, beyond all news cycles known to man, still sits a skinny man in shorts, white socks pulled up to his kneecaps, one gold picture frame around his front tooth.

Sometimes you can find Carl alone on our lot, poised on an ice chest, searching the view, as if for a sign, as if for a wonder. Or else, seated at a pecan-colored dining table with intricately carved legs, holding court. The table where Carl sometimes sits is on the spot where our living room used to be but where instead of floor there is green grass trying to grow.

See Carl gesturing with a long arm, if he feels like it, wearing dark shades even if it is night. See Rabbit with his legs crossed at the ankle, a long-legged man, knotted up.

I can see him there now, in my mind’s eye, silent and holding a beer. Babysitting ruins. But that is not his language or sentiment; he would never betray the Yellow House like that.



--Sarah M. Broom, The Yellow House (Grove Press, 2019)

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Read This! Books with Street Cred
Recommended reading from Southern Indie Booksellers

Stolen Things by R. H. Heron
A crazy thrill-ride from the first page, I was so absorbed that I read the entire book in a day. Every time I thought I had everything figured out Herron threw in another twist I was not expecting. Her detailed knowledge of 911 dispatch gave this book a layer of realism that a lot of thrillers don't have, and the mother/daughter relationship at its heart filled me to the brim with all the feels. In a crowded field, this is not a debut to miss!

Stolen Things by R. H. Heron ($26.00*, Dutton), recommended by Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC.


The Warlow Experiment by Alix Nathan
Terrific. Grade A-plus historical fiction. Customers who are champing at the bit for Mantel's next can be quietened for a bit with The Warlow Experiment. I love this mix of research and imagining, and I toast Nathan for taking that long-ago advertisement and fanning it out for us so well.

The Warlow Experiment by Alix Nathan ($26.95*, Doubleday), recommended by Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
In the follow up to his essential Stamped from the Beginning, Ibram X. Kendi has given us another indispensable book in How to Be an Antiracist. Blending personal memoir with history, social science, law, and social justice, Kendi continues to reframe and redefine what it means to be “antiracist” in the world today. Accessibly written and constantly engaging, How to Be an Antiracist is a perfect book for our historical moment and one that I hope will continue to reshape my own and others’ thinking.

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi ($27.00*, One World), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.


More bookseller recommendations


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News of a literary nature

The Yellow House"I feel like I started writing this book when I left the house for college"

keep reading: Sarah Broom on writing The Yellow House




"independent bookstores don’t operate according to the normal rules of capitalism. They aren’t trying to beat each other. They aren’t even trying to beat Amazon. They’re creating communities — cozy places to beat the heat or come in from the cold. "

keep reading: Parnassus Books cares about us, does Amazon?


Dopesick"I believe that this is going to be the number one challenge the United States faces. There are rural areas where the jobs have gone away. The pharmaceutical companies purposely targeted those areas when OxyContin came out. "

keep reading: Beth Macy on the reality of life in Dopesick country

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The Okra Picks: The Summer Season


Southern Independent booksellers have chosen the 2019 Summer Okra Picks – a collection of the best forthcoming Southern books of the season. Add a bit of tasty reading to your literary diet. Serve yourself a helping of Okra Picks.


"Sarah M. Broom grew up in New Orleans, New Orleans East to be exact, an area that tourists don't go to. Often neglected by the city administration, the area suffered even greater during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. This is a memoir of family history, the city's history, class and racism through the lens of the house Sarah grew up in, which was lost to "The Water." As she continues to get pulled back to the city despite her attempts at distance, she struggles with the meaning of "home" when it seems like home is always working against you. Exceptional and moving, this is the kind of memoir against which other memoirs get judged. " —Carl Kranz, Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA

The Yellow House by Sarah M. BroomIn 1961, Sarah M. Broom's mother Ivory Mae bought a shotgun house in the then-promising neighborhood of New Orleans East and built her world inside of it. It was the height of the Space Race and the neighborhood was home to a major NASA plant--the postwar optimism seemed assured. Widowed, Ivory Mae remarried Sarah's father Simon Broom; their combined family would eventually number twelve children. But after Simon died, six months after Sarah's birth, the Yellow House would become Ivory Mae's thirteenth and most unruly child.

A book of great ambition, Sarah M. Broom's The Yellow House tells a hundred years of her family and their relationship to home in a neglected area of one of America's most mythologized cities. This is the story of a mother's struggle against a house's entropy, and that of a prodigal daughter who left home only to reckon with the pull that home exerts, even after the Yellow House was wiped off the map after Hurricane Katrina. The Yellow House expands the map of New Orleans to include the stories of its lesser known natives, guided deftly by one of its native daughters, to demonstrate how enduring drives of clan, pride, and familial love resist and defy erasure. Located in the gap between the "Big Easy" of tourist guides and the New Orleans in which Broom was raised, The Yellow House is a brilliant memoir of place, class, race, the seeping rot of inequality, and the internalized shame that often follows. It is a transformative, deeply moving story from an unparalleled new voice of startling clarity, authority, and power."

Grove Press | 9780802125088 | 8/13/2019


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Southern Indie Bestsellers

For the week ending August 11. Books on the Southern Indie Bestseller List that are southern in nature or have been recently recommended by southern indie booksellers.


Southern Indie Bestsellers

See the full list here.
The Southern Book Prize | A SIBA Okra Pick
Special to the Southern List | Read This Next!
Printable versions (PDF): Hardcover | Paperback | Children's

1. Where the Crawdads Sing
Delia Owens, Putnam, $26, 9780735219090
2. The Nickel Boys
Colson Whitehead, Doubleday, $24.95, 9780385537070
3. Chances Are . . .
Richard Russo, Knopf, $26.95, 9781101947746
4. City of Girls
Elizabeth Gilbert, Riverhead Books, $28, 9781594634734
5. Inland
Téa Obreht, Random House, $27, 9780812992861

1. Educated
Tara Westover, Random House, $28, 9780399590504
2. How to Be an Antiracist
Ibram X. Kendi, One World, $27, 9780525509288
3. The Source of Self-Regard
Toni Morrison, Knopf, $28.95, 9780525521037
4. Becoming
Michelle Obama, Crown, $32.50, 9781524763138
5. Three Women
Lisa Taddeo, Avid Reader Press/S&S, $27, 9781451642292
Special to the Southern List

Never Have I Ever Joshilyn Jackson, Morrow, $26.99,Pachinko Min Jin Lee, Grand Central, $15.99,Sula Toni Morrison, Vintage, $15,The Soul of America Jon Meacham, Random House, $20,The Last Castle Denise Kiernan, Touchstone, $17,

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What's happening at Southern Indies across the South?
See the full calendar | Find a Southern Indie Bookstore near you.

Patti Callahan Henry - Shining a Light on Memory Loss  (author appearance)
Patti Callahan Henry | 08/27/2019, 05:30 pm | Alabama Booksmith | Homewood, AL

Jenna Blum Book Signing  (author appearance)
Jenna Blum | 08/27/2019, 06:30 pm | Writers Block Bookstore | Winter Park, FL

Susan Cushman signs Friends of the Library  (author appearance)
Susan Cushman | 08/27/2019, 05:30 pm | Lemuria Books | Jackson, MS

Karen Abbott presents The Ghosts of Eden Park, in conversation with Denise Kiernan at Little Jumbo  (author appearance)
Karen Abbott | 08/27/2019, 06:30 pm | Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe | Asheville, NC

Martin Clark - The Substitution Order  (author appearance)
Martin Clark | 08/27/2019, 07:00 pm | Quail Ridge Books | Raleigh, NC

Does Crime Pay? Authors Howard Owen and Jon Sealy in Conversation   (author appearance)
Howard Owen | 08/27/2019, 06:30 pm | Fountain Bookstore | Richmond, VA

Hank Phillippi Ryan presents The Murder List - A Novel  (author appearance)
Hank Phillippi Ryan | 08/28/2019, 06:00 pm | Vero Beach Book Center | Vero Beach, FL

Karen Abbott  (author appearance)
Karen Abbott | 08/28/2019, 07:00 pm | Atlanta History Center | Atlanta, GA

Rea Frey presents Because You're Mine  (author appearance)
Rea Frey | 08/28/2019, 06:00 pm | Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe | Asheville, NC

Timothy McNulty & Brendan McNulty present The Meanest Man in Congress  (author appearance)
Timothy and Brendan McNulty | 08/28/2019, 07:00 pm | Park Road Books | Charlotte, NC

Book Discussion & Signing: Kate Lacour  (author appearance)
Kate Lacour | 08/29/2019, 06:00 pm | Blue Cypress Books | New Orleans, LA

Brock Clarke with WHO ARE YOU, CALVIN BLEDSOE?   (author appearance)
Brock Clarke | 08/29/2019, 05:30 pm | Square Books | Oxford, MS

UNC Press presents E. Patrick Johnson, PhD, author of Black. Queer. Southern. Women.  (author appearance)
E. Patrick | 08/29/2019, 06:00 pm | Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe | Asheville, NC

Patricia Colleen Murphy in conversation w/ Jacinta V. White  (author appearance)
Patricia Colleen | 08/29/2019, 07:00 pm | Park Road Books | Charlotte, NC

Publication Party for GERTIE with Kathryn Smith  (author appearance)
Kathryn Smith | 08/29/2019, 05:30 pm | Buxton Books | Charleston, SC

Author event with Jennifer Pastiloff, author of On Being Human, in conversation with Mary Laura Philpott  (author appearance)
Jennifer Pastiloff | 08/29/2019, 06:30 pm | Parnassus Books | Nashville, TN

Courtney Pace with Freedom Faith: The Womanist Vision of Prathia Hall   (author appearance)
Courtney Pace | 08/29/2019, 06:00 pm | novel. | Memphis, TN

An Evening With Author/Activist Andy Parker   (author appearance)
Andy Parker | 08/29/2019, 06:30 pm | Fountain Bookstore | Richmond, VA

Lars Anderson - Chasing the Bear  (author appearance)
Lars Anderson | 08/30/2019, 05:00 pm | Alabama Booksmith | Homewood, AL

Kathryn Smith Author of Gertie: The Fabulous Life of Gertrude Sanford Legendre, Heiress, Explorer, Socialite, Spy  (author appearance)
Kathryn Smith | 08/30/2019, 11:00 am | Litchfield Books | Pawleys Island, SC

Big Orange Coloring Book by Charlie Daniel  (author appearance)
Charlie Daniel | 08/31/2019, 11:00 am | Union Avenue Books | Knoxville, TN

Sarah Broom in Conversation with Maurice Carlos Ruffin  (author appearance)
Sarah Broom | 8/28/2019, 6:00 PM | Garden District Book Shop | New Orleans, LA

Authors Round the South |
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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 Dr.| Asheville, NC 28805
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