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Hemphill's return 

Atlanta author Paul Hemphill calls on a kindred country spirit in his comeback bid

Page 5 of 5

Lord has all the right things happening with the book. He's sold the rights to Lovesick Blues in the United Kingdom, for a large-type edition and for an audio book. Booklist called it "The finest work of literature about Williams yet written." The AJC review said Hemphill's book is as "exhilarating" as Williams' music.

The hoopla has led Atlanta's Everthemore Books, an imprint of A Capella Books in Little Five Points, to publish a new edition of The Nashville Sound. For Hemphill, the heightened interest is like the good old days.

"He's very hopeful and optimistic," Percy says, "but in the back of his mind, he's thinking, 'Oh, man, is this all not going to turn out as wonderfully well as I want it to?' He's been writing really well for a long time and I think he would like some outside validation, from somebody besides his wife and good friends, that he writes wonderfully."

Hemphill is struggling to recover from the stroke that felled him on St. Patrick's Day. He's dragging two fingers on his left hand when he types and having trouble with balance when he walks.

The worst thing is that the stroke took his spirit.

"I have the fear that the Hank book is the last serious book I'll ever write," he says. "But I don't know. You never know. I don't get pissed off at anything anymore and part of that is age, I guess. I don't know. The spirit is just not there."

But he's already working on his next book, a history of Auburn football.

"He's a writer," Percy says. "That's what he does."

Click here to read an excerpt from the epilogue of Lovesick Blues: The Life of Hank Williams by Paul Hemphill.

Senior Editor Doug Monroe started reading Paul Hemphill in the Journal in 1965. He can be reached at doug.monroe@creativeloafing.com. For more about Hemphill, see www.paulhemphill.net.

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