Ronald Everett Capps has created a difficult duo of despicable and -- damn it all, but it's true -- endearing antiheroes in Off Magazine Street, the story of two lifelong friends and the daughter of their personal big easy: Lorraine, a recently deceased, morbidly obese, mental patient roommate and always-willing fuck.
Byron Burns is a former high school football star and English teacher from a wealthy family, now disgraced, unemployed and unable to finish writing a novel that is, though he often denies it, based on the life of his friend. Bobby Long is a former college professor and veteran with a rotting toe and a gift for gab.
When barely-legal dropout Hanna, daughter of Lorraine, shows up at their rundown one-room apartment to collect her mother's nonexistent effects, Bobby and Byron plot to prevent her from returning to her abusive boyfriend in South Florida. Out of love and loyalty to Lorraine? Because their inebriated educator instincts sense Hanna's formidable untapped intelligence? Or because, during perhaps their most unforgivable violation of Hanna, they've seen how good she looks naked and, implausibly, believe they can seduce her?
Capps offers no final answers, and he won't let us settle down into a comfortable love or loathing of Bobby and Byron. They are brilliant fools, noble cads, corrupt and the best thing that ever happened to Hanna. Capps is at times a bit too obvious in his exposition of the character conflicts, as though compelled to spell it all out for Hollywood. (Following the trend of film adaptations rushed into production even before a book is released, a film based on the book, A Love Song for Bobby Long, starring John Travolta and Scarlett Johansson, opens in limited release Dec. 29.) But the trials and triumphs (and then more trials) of this trio of misfits is compelling and improbably moving.Off Magazine Street, Ronald Everett Capps. $24. MacAdam/Cage. 412 pages.
Readings & SigningsThe ADODI Muse: A Gay Negro Ensemble The men of ADODI Muse sign and perform selections from their new CD of spoken word and music, Ain't Got Sense Enuf to be 'Shamed. Thu., Dec. 16, 7:30 p.m. Charis Books & More, 1189 Euclid Ave. 404-524-0304.
Bernard Kearse Author signs Bethany: Adventures of the Mustard Seed. Sat., Dec. 11, 11 a.m. Chapter 11, 3975 Holcomb Bridge Road, Norcross. 770-448-7539.
Carol Gee Author signs Diary of a Flygirl wannabe: Life Lessons of a Cool Girl in Training. Thu., Dec. 9, 7:30 p.m. Charis Books & More, 1189 Euclid Ave. 404-524-0304.
Deana Martin Author signs Memories Are Made of This. Thu., Dec. 9, 7 p.m. Chapter 11, 2345-A Peachtree Road. 404-237-7199.
Jack Morton Author signs Salon Dish: Award-Winning Recipes from the Celeb Salon. Wed., Dec. 15, 8 p.m. Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse, 991 Piedmont Ave. 404-607-0082.
John Brackin Author signs Stealth Patrol. Sat., Dec. 11, 2-4 p.m. Books-a-Million- Discover Mills, 5900 Sugarloaf Parkway, #321, Lawrenceville. 678-847-5115.
Lee Harper Author signs Dancing Without Walls. Sat., Dec. 11, 2 p.m. Chapter 11, 1544 Piedmont Ave. 404-872-7986.
Maseyree Author signs It Just Gets Better with Time. Sat., Dec. 11, 1-3 p.m. B's Books and More, 2926A Evans Mill Road, Lithonia. 770-484-6222.
Michelle Bailey Webster Author signs The Christmas of Miracles. Fri., Dec. 10, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. The Chandlery, 950 Canton St., Roswell. 770-993-5962.
Philip Lee Williams Author signs A Distant Flame. Sat., Dec. 11, 2 p.m. Chapter 11, 1210 Thompson Bridge Road NE, Gainesville. 770-535-6699.
Poetry Workshop Led by Michelle Walker. Second Tuesday of every month, 7 p.m. Continues through June 14. Jake's Ice Creams and Sorbets, 676 Highland Ave. 404-523-1830.
Poets Cafe Third Thursday of every month, 6 p.m. Continues through Jan. 1. Atlanta-Fulton County Public Library - Downtown, 1 Margaret Mitchell Square. 404-730-1700.
Princess Marie Sol de La Tour d'Auvergne Author signs and discusses French America: A Visual Architectual History. Thu., Dec. 9, 10 a.m. Spalding Nix Fine Art Gallery, The Galleries of Peachtree Hills, 425 Peachtree Hills Ave.
Robert Greer Author signs The Devil's Hatband. Fri., Dec. 10, 6 p.m. Chapter 11, 3975 Holcomb Bridge Road, Norcross. 770-448-7539.
Stuart Dybek Author reads from and signs I Sailed With Magellan. Fri., Dec. 10, 7 p.m. Jimmy Carter Library & Museum, 441 Freedom Parkway. 404-865-7100.
Tina Brooks McKinney Author signs All That Drama. Sun., Dec. 12, 2-4 p.m. Books-a-Million- Discover Mills, 5900 Sugarloaf Parkway, #321, Lawrenceville. 678-847-5115.
Zell Miller Author signs A National Party No More. Sat., Dec. 11, 2 p.m. Chapter 11, 3975 Holcomb Bridge Road, Norcross. 770-448-7539.
When will you be accepting applicants for the 2014 competition?
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