We see Robert Woodruff, thin cigar dangling from his lips, alongside a quick note from Randy Gue. Jelani Cobb waxes poetic on a portrait of the Reverend Hosea Williams in mid-explanation. The cartoonist Ed Dodd grips a big pipe with his grin next to a little remembrance from Candice Dyer. Bill Arnett, whose collection is featured in this week's issue, gets a particularly poetic treatment from Kevin Sipp. The cumulative affect has the tone of a sentimental token, but also a focused, eloquent reminder of people whose lives continue to be felt in Atlanta today.
Constance Lewis and Jerry Cullum collaborated to make the book as companion to Lucinda Bunnen: Georgia Portraits, now on exhibition at the Atlanta Preservation Center's Drawing Room Gallery.
Lewis wrote me this week to explain a little more about the project, saying, "We wanted it to be a poetic little keepsake - something that served as an alternative to the traditional galley catalogue/guide - that reminded us both of the "chapbook" from the old Nexus days; and, we wanted to bring the vintage photographs into a contemporary dialogue by asking a handful of local, knowledgeable curators and writers to select a photograph from the series and give a short, spontaneous response (within a tight framework of 250 words only and a two-week deadline). It was a very 'spontaneous' undertaking that is very likely to become a larger volume in the future."
The book, which is available in a limited edition of 150 copies, is available at the Atlanta Preservation Center for $20.
Meltzer is the host of Decoded, a History network show that seriously explores wing nut conspiracy theories. The book is very much a companion piece to that breezy yet oddly straight-faced treatment of crackpot theorizing. The intent is never to actually prove or disprove, say, the existence of UFOs at Area 51 or who killed JFK, but rather to give just enough consideration to theories of "The Babuska Lady" or large-eyed ETs to render them "unanswered."
I caught Meltzer on the phone this afternoon and asked him, "How it is possible to ever know anything?" He almost balked at trudging through some epistemology 101 philosophizing and then conceded, "Everything is perspective ... One writer will take a document and say a thing about it and another writer will take the exact same object and say that it proves the exact opposite thing." Thus, the fun with the fascimile documents folded into each chapter of History Decoded. They can mean whatever you want them to mean.
Brad Meltzer discusses History Decoded at the Morris and Rae Frank Theatre at the MJCCA tonight Thurs., Oct. 24 at 6:45 p.m.
This book has everything your friend probably loves: an awkward, bumbling protagonist with a street smart, comic relief sidekick, scheming lawyers, a love interest subplot, strippers, the CIA and the mob.
All these factions come together as the main character, Eben Burnham - a young lawyer working at his family's firm - aims to develop, with the help of his physics professor friend, technology that constructs computers to run on the laws of quantum physics. Quantum physics plays a big role in the novel, as Eben is an amateur physics buff. The references to physics and how Eben integrates their principles into understanding his daily life starts out interesting, but is overdone and, adding little to the development of the character or the plot, makes the story drag.
As per a press release sent out this afternoon, the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library, host to many authors including recently Colum McCann and George Packer, is "closed pending a resolution." This means that events, like next week's lecture by Deni Bechard about Empty Hands, Open Arms are scrambling for new locations. In the case of Bechard, the Decatur Library has stepped up to host the event on Mon., Oct. 7 at 7:15 p.m.
With the resolution of the shutdown uncertain, the fate and location of other upcoming events now seems unclear. Former Poet Laureate Billy Collins is scheduled to speak at the Presidential Library on Wed., Oct. 23 in support of his new collection, Aimless Love. We'll keep you update as to the status of these events as they change.
McCord tells INtown that owning the store while working for the State of Georgia's communications department has begun to take too much of a toll on his life. He plans to keep the store open until he can find the right buyer. Perhaps James Patterson, who recently pledged to give a million dollars to independent bookstores, is interested?
In this week's issue, Laura Relyea tells the story of the long road to Charles McNair's second novel, Pickett's Charge. As with more stories about McNair, who happens to be one of Atlanta's most idiosyncratic literary characters, it's a pretty interesting read.
In the event that story whets your appetite for more McNair, you might turn your attention to a new Atlanta-based web publication called Bitter Southerner. Each week, they're publishing a single essay or story of Southern concern. This week, McNair tells the story of escaping his father's prejudices in an essay titled "Denise McNair and Me." He writes:
My conversion started when four little girls died in the Birmingham church bombing in 1963. I felt troubled especially that one of the children bore my own family name. Denise McNair was 11 years old, just about my age. Were we ... kin? Family matters more than anything, I'd been taught. Was this my blood cousin they lowered down into the red dirt of Alabama? What did a little girl named Denise do to deserve such a death?
As a bonus, they're also running a recording of McNair reading a selection from Pickett's Charge, titled "The Crying Place."
When the independent film Snow On Tha Bluff premiered in Atlanta a couple of years ago (and later on DVD), Curtis Snow's day-in-the-life depiction of a street-hard D-boy was so realistic that viewers couldn't tell if his on-screen portrayal was exaggerated role play or a crime-ridden close-up on his everyday struggle.
In his newly released autobiography, "My Name is Curtis Snow and I'm a G," readers will find out where the man and the movie delineate, if at all. Just as the film was set in the notorious neighborhood known as "the Bluff" on Atlanta's Westside (just blocks from the Georgia Dome), Snow's book finds him navigating those same streets.
In what could be the most menacing video trailer for a book spawned from a movie ever, Snow narrates his plain-spoken intro over an eerie track titled "Letters" (with production credited to VFresh). (See trailer above.)
Snow On Tha Bluff's hood-film-meets-Blair Witch aesthetic - which also endured pointed criticism over whether it was exposing the harsh reality of life in the hood or further exploiting it - gets some necessary contextualization in the book, according to the press release:
"The book shows the progression of Curtis Snow as a man and how he dealt with life including the death of his brother, mother and cousin all in one week. It's a true reality check of the shocking events he lived through that most people will never experience in their lifetime," explains Snow's manager David Kwon Kim.
Local bookseller A Cappella Books has come into possession of a very rare copy of Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. The book is a signed first edition with the inscription, "To Mrs. Robert Field, With a World of Love, Margaret Mitchell." Why is that significant? Owner Frank Reiss sent out an email earlier this week explaining exactly why:
I just came back from South Carolina with a signed first edition I just know you'll want to know about.
It's a first edition, first printing, in the original dust jacket, from May, 1936, of Gone With the Wind. And it's not simply signed by Margaret Mitchell; it's inscribed: "To Mrs. Robert Field, With a World of Love, Margaret Mitchell."
To understand how special this copy is, you need to know who Mrs. Robert Field was. She was the mother of Medora Field Perkerson, who was Margaret Mitchell's best friend, the maid-of-honor in her wedding.
It was Medora who, in 1935, introduced Mitchell to the Atlanta representative for the Macmillan Company, who first alerted Macmillan's Editor-in-Chief Harold Latham about the book Mitchell was working on. When Latham came to Atlanta, it was Medora who hosted a luncheon at Rich's for him and who made sure he and Mitchell sat next to one another.
Once Gone With the Wind came out, the publicity-shy Mitchell didn't do a lot of interviews, but she did one on local Atlanta radio....with Medora Field Perkerson.
When the movie premiered in Atlanta in 1939, it was Medora again who hosted a cocktail party for the occasion at the Piedmont Driving Club.
Medora Field Perkerson went on to write two best-selling novels herself, both made into major motion pictures, and she also authored a book still very much in demand among Southern history enthusiasts, White Columns in Georgia.
Ellen Brown, a fellow rare book dealer and journalist and author of Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind: A Bestseller's Odyssey from Atlanta to Hollywood, saw many signed and inscribed copies of the book while doing her research. She told me that she had never seen one with the word "love." This is truly an amazing association copy. Medora was childless. She left this book to her niece, from whom we purchased it.
Now, a bit about how scarce this actual printing is: Gone With the Wind was originally supposed to be published in May, 1936. Ten thousand copies of the debut novel were printed with that date on the copyright page. However, before it came out, Macmillan made a deal with The Book-of-the-Month Club for the release of the book to be delayed until June of that year. By the time the copyright page was reset, removing any indication of the May printing, early reviews and pre-orders from bookstores around the country were so exceptional that the publisher went through several more printings totalling 50,000 copies before the release date. By the end of the year, there were many more printings, as the book was on its ways to selling millions. Only those first 10,000 had the date of "May, 1936" printed in them. Seventy-seven years later, there are far fewer than that, and very few as well-preserved as this one (We've seen a lot of very-well-loved copies of the book in our day). There are even fewer still that remain in the original dust jacket.
The original dust jacket is an interesting story in itself. As a debut novel, and with the unpredictability of the publishing business, Gone With the Wind was one of 17 novels Macmillan was publishing that season, and on the back of the dust jacket, the titles are listed in two columns with Gone With the Wind listed as the second title in the second column. Nothing special.
By the time the book was actually published, one month later, it was clear it was going to be the book of the season (and, eventually, the year - winning the Pulitzer Prize - and arguably of the century!), and the dust jacket was reprinted to have Gone With the Wind in its rightful place at the top of the first column. One thing didn't change about the later dust jacket: the $3.00 price.
Mrs. Field's $3.00 investment in the May printing, with the May dust jacket, personalized with such a genuine, warm inscription, turned out pretty well. This unique copy of one of the most popular books of all time is now valued at $25,000.
You can contact A Cappella Books for more information.
A few writers, including Atlanta's Edward Austin Hall, have organized a new anthology of Afrofuturism and other science fiction writing. Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism & Beyond is an anthology of 40 writers making work that doesn't much resemble the science fiction that dominates the mainstream.
Their pitch hits the nail on the head, so, here it is:
When watching a work of science fiction on the big or small screen, people of color often find themselves asking:
"Where did we go?"
"Did some melanin-devouring plague attack all humanity?"
"Do zombies only like the dark meat?"
But that's Hollywood. While studio executives continue to show the world's multi-hued population through its monochromatic lens, the literary field of speculative fiction has become more diverse than ever. Whether it's horror, science fiction, or fantasy, steampunk or steamfunk (and let's not forget sword and soul), writers of color are producing quality works and accumulating accolades and awards every day.
Author Bill Campbell (Koontown Killing Kaper, Sunshine Patriots), poet/journalist Edward Austin Hall (the forthcoming Chimera Island), and artist Professor John Jennings (Black Comix, Black Kirby Project) have assembled 40 extraordinarily talented writers who represent just a part of the changing face of speculative fiction.
Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism is the dynamic, genre-expanding end result.
They're holding a fundraiser on Indiegogo that looks to be on track to be fully funded just in time for the deadline, but you might want to throw a few bucks their way, just in case.
Max Currie's fine illustrations are used sparingly - at the beginning of each chapter - and complement the narrative well. The illustrations, along with a number of articles from "Star-Gazer.com" about Kent, result in an innovative format that brings the reader into Kent's world and Japanese celebrity obsession.
Bundy's novel, filled with violence, drugs, lust and illuminating flashbacks, gives the reader no time to get comfortable, leaving no choice but to press on and hope for the best for the protagonist that does so much to trip himself up.
Bundy took the time to discuss the book via email.
Kent Richman is a very interesting character, from his looks to his career to his problematic habits. Where did the Kent Richman character come from? Is he part of you, a person you know or does he embody a known celebrity?
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