Friday, October 4, 2013

Federal shutdown causing disarray in literary events

Posted By on Fri, Oct 4, 2013 at 2:20 PM

Maybe you're sitting at home thinking, "I'm just a quiet person who likes to read books and occasionally attend book signings to hear an author speak about their work. How could the federal shutdown possibly affect me?" Today we were alerted to the fact that government gridlock in Washington D.C. has now put an ugly boot down on the neck of literary events in Atlanta.

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.

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Bound to Be Read Books for sale in EAV

Posted By on Tue, Sep 17, 2013 at 1:07 PM

Atlanta INtown is reporting that Bound to Be Read Books in East Atlanta Village is for sale. The store opened in 2005 and, according to the bookstore's website, "was most likely founded as a result of owner Jeff McCord's midlife crisis." Since then, the store has been one of very few independents to survive in recent years, as stalwarts like the Atlanta Book Exchange and Outwrite Books have closed.

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?

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Friday, September 13, 2013

Charles McNair, Bitter Southerner

Posted By on Fri, Sep 13, 2013 at 11:47 AM

Charles McNair

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."

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Curtis Snow of 'Snow On tha Bluff' is a 'G'

Posted By on Wed, Sep 11, 2013 at 5:06 PM

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.

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Monday, August 19, 2013

A Cappella Books scores rare copy of Gone With the Wind

Posted By on Mon, Aug 19, 2013 at 11:44 AM

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.

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

'Mothership' is beaming up diverse science fiction

Posted By on Wed, Aug 7, 2013 at 2:42 PM

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.

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Chris Bundy on 'Baby, You're a Rich Man'

Posted By on Tue, Aug 6, 2013 at 10:34 AM

  • C&R Press
Chris Bundy's debut novel, Baby, You're a Rich Man, follows a fallen celebrity, Kent Richman, as he tries to revive his career after a tragic incident that costs him his wife and his starring role on a popular Japanese show. The plot moves quickly and Kent travels through Japan, toward a Buddhist retreat where his manager has hired a film crew to document Kent's "recovery." In the grips of a secret meth addiction and an obstinate need to find himself back in the limelight, Kent follies and declines further into self-induced mire, all the while imagining how everything can work out for the better in spite of all the problems he faces.

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 "" 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?

In Japan I watched television in an effort to learn the language. Japanese game and panel shows make up a substantial percentage of TV. They are noteworthy for their amplified sets, extravagant celebrities, and pretty vacuous content. Comedians and other celebrities, most of whom make a living on these shows and do little else, host them. The content often revolves around comic banter (most of which is scripted), a bizarre activity or challenge put to the panel regulars and guests.

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Schedule for 2013 Decatur Book Festival announced

Posted By on Tue, Jul 23, 2013 at 12:33 PM

The Decatur Book Festival announced the schedule for the annual literary Labor Day weekend event this morning. As previously announced, the festival will kick off with a keynote address from Congressman John Lewis on Friday, Aug. 30 at 8 p.m. at the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts at Emory University. Lewis will discuss March: Book One, the forthcoming graphic novel autobiography that he co-wrote with Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell. The festival will continue through Sept. 1.

Other highlights include events on Saturday and Sunday with Richard Blanco, the inaugural poet for President Obama's second inauguration, two events with novelist Clyde Edgerton, a conversation between local masters of suspense Kathy Reichs and Karin Slaughter on Saturday, and an appearance from Naomi Wolf on Sunday. The full schedule includes hundreds of authors.

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Vouched Books celebrates two years

Posted By on Wed, Jul 17, 2013 at 3:41 PM

Local mobile-bookstore and literary booster Vouched Books is celebrating two years of operating in Atlanta with a massive reading party at the Goat Farm tomorrow night.

Michigan-based novelist Matt Bell will be on hand to read from his latest, In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods, along with local novelist Blake Butler, author of There is No Year and Nothing, who will read some recent unpublished work. Aside from Bell and Butler, a massive group of local scribes (including but not limited to: Rachael Maddux, Lain Shakespeare, Jamie Allen, Brooke Hatfield, Amy McDaniel, Myke Johns,Terra McVoy, Johnny Drago, and our own Thomas Wheatley) will be reading selected work written by students in the Wren's Nest KIPP Scribes tutoring program. Many, many things will be read and the party will benefit the aforementioned tutoring program.

The party begins at 7 p.m. at the Goat Farm on Thurs., July 18. More details at Vouched Books.

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Monday, July 15, 2013

David Bottoms talks James Dickey and 'Complete Poems'

Posted By on Mon, Jul 15, 2013 at 2:26 PM

  • University of South Carolina Press
Before James Dickey became a widely acclaimed poet he worked as a copy writer for an advertising agency. In regards to that time he once famously said, "I was selling my soul to the devil all day and trying to buy it back at night." Evidently he did the right thing, as he later went on to win a National Book Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and an appointment as the Poet Laureate Consultant to the Library of Congress. Many people have debated his personal life and have made claims against his character, but his poetic legacy is inarguable. On July 15, there will be a celebration of Dickey's career and the publication of The Complete Poems of James Dickey, including 331 poems.

CL spoke with David Bottoms - former Poet Laureate of Georgia - about James Dickey's career and legacy.

What was your relationship with James Dickey?

David Bottoms: We were friends for about 16 years. I admired Dickey a long time and sent him a copy of my first book when it was published in 1980. He invited me up to Columbia and we shot some bow and arrows and played a little guitar. He was an incredibly intelligent man. He was probably the smartest man I ever met which was intimidating. He had a photographic memory. We talked a lot about sports, and then he would be talking Heraclitus and he'd expect you to keep up which made me very nervous.

He was very kind to me and very generous. I know there are some stories about him being rude to people, but I never saw that side of him.

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$20 Dinner with Virginia Willis
$20 Dinner with Virginia Willis

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