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Literary Friday

Book Review & Giveaway

If Jack’s in Love …

Winner of the 2011 Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction, first-time novelist Stephen Wetta’s book, “If Jack’s in Love,” is about coming of age and falling in love in the 1960s. Wetta’s main character, 12-year-old Jack Witcher, is from the wrong family and falls in love with the wrong girl, but does it all with dignity and courage. The youngest member of a “white trash” family in Richmond, Virginia, Jack desperately wants to escape his family’s status.

“What was so bad about the Witchers? We didn’t listen to country music. We didn’t eat chitterlings; we didn’t wear overalls. My mother read books by Charles Dickens, Jane Austen. She could play show tunes on piano. It was Pop, he was the one who made the trouble.” 

With the help of a local jeweler, Jack is able to make some headway in the love department, but there are still many obstacles for him to overcome. His dad won’t stop fighting with the other dads in the neighborhood and plays guitar music with a black man in their front yard every night, his pot-smoking older brother Stan is getting more violent by the day and his love interest, Myra, is locked up in her house. When her older brother disappears, everyone suspects Stan, even Jack.

Wetter’s novel is inspired by his own memories of a socially ostracized family from his boyhood neighborhood in Richmond. “Much of what I wrote is invented, but could have happened, and some of it did happen, in different settings and contexts. Yet the book isn’t haunted only by sad memories. It’s set in 1967, a magical year for me that suggested social possibilities far beyond the limited scope of the neighborhood where I grew up.”

“If Jack’s In Love” became available in paperback this week, and we’ve got two copies of the book to give away. To be entered to win, comment on a topic in this post. We’ll choose two winners at random and announce them next Friday.

The deadline to enter our Summer Book Giveaway has passed, but books from our Summer Reading List are still arriving for those who did enter. This week, we’re finding homes for Wiley Cash’s “A Land More Kind Than Home,” Ron Rash’s “The Cove” and James Lee Burke’s “Creole Belle.” If you commented on the list before the August 1 deadline, keep an eye on your inbox for an email from us.

News & Blogs

The big news in lit this week is that the movie version of “The Great Gatsby” has been pushed back from Christmas Day to next summer. We were looking forward to a Christmas evening with Gatsby, Daisy and Nick, but rumor says the movie still has some kinks to work out. Or, it could be because Leonardo DiCaprio, who plays Jay Gatsby, also stars in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained on December 25. According to The Los Angeles Times, the movie was moved so Director Baz Luhrmann could complete its 3D effects. This prompted film critic David Ehrlich to tweet:

of course THE GREAT GATSBY was delayed. i mean, *you* try rendering “boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past” in CG.

The New Yorker posted his tweet in its August 7 analysis of Movies From Books and discusses how movie adaptations of books often fail to capture the language. We still have high hopes for the new version of Gatsby and hope it’s those parties that Luhrmann is struggling to capture in 3D.

The Daily Mail reported that Elvis’s forgotten library card, signed by him at age 13, will be up for auction next week. The King’s signature is for checking out a copy of “The Courageous Heart: A Life of Andrew Jackson For Young Readers” from Humes High School in Memphis. The auction will be held at The Peabody Hotel August 14.

Publisher’s Weekly‘s series of Can You Guess These Books From Their Phantom Covers? is now in round three, which includes a Southern blockbuster.

Deep South friend and reader Tamara Welch’s recap of her visit to Faulkner’s home at Rowan Oak in Oxford as part of the Southern Creatives series on Melinda McGuire’s blog.

Literary Fashion: 10 Dresses Inspired By High School Required Reading in The Huffington Post. What would Scout be wearing today?

(Non)required Reading 

Atlanta-based food writer Kim Severson’s piece about Chick-fil-A in The New York Times. Are you choosing chicken over equality?


Writer and book collector Larry McMurtry (“Lonesome Dove”) is holding The Last Book Sale in Archer City, Texas, today and tomorrow. Owner of Booked Up bookstore (pictured on the right), McMurtry is selling 400,000 books from his collection at the largest book sale in Texas history. The auction is going on now and continues through 7 p.m. tonight and from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. tomorrow.

Join Deep South in Mississippi next week at booksignings for “River Witch” author Kimberly Brock, featuring Anna Kline and the Grits & Soul Band. We’ll be traveling to Jackson on August 13 for a 5 p.m. reading, signing and music at Lemuria Books and Greenwood on August 14 for a 5:30 p.m. event at Turnrow Book Co.

The Decatur Book Festival will take place in and around the Decatur, Georgia, square August 31-September 2, presenting authors Mary Kay Andrews, Meg Cabot, Mark Childress, John T. Edge, Joshilyn Jackson, Karen White and many more.

The 11th annual Tennessee Williams Tribute and Tour of Victorian Homes will be held in Columbus, Mississippi, September 4-9. Special guests include Dr. Kenneth Holditch and Tony Award nominees Alison Fraser and Allison Leyton Brown, in addition to a performance of “The Rose Tattoo” and a Stella Shouting Contest. See the ad on the top right for more info.

Birmingham Public Library’s Eat Drink Read Write Festival will be held September 8-15, a series of free programs bringing food, culinary arts and literature to the table.

Scheduled for October 12-14, the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville announced its lineup last week, which includes Gillian Flynn, Lauren Groff, Kimberly Brock, Lydia Netzer, Ron Rash and Bobbie Ann Mason.

The Louisiana Book Festival will be held October 27 in Baton Rouge at the State Capitol. This festival hasn’t announced their lineup yet, but we’ve heard Cory MacLauchlin, Rick Bragg, Ron Rash and Wiley Cash will be there.

Flannery O’Connor Symposium, co-sponsored by Deep South, is scheduled for November 9-10 in Lafayette, Louisiana, on the UL Lafayette campus. We’ll be releasing more details as it gets closer to the event.

Also that weekend is the Georgia Literary Festival at the new Jekyll Island Convention Center, which will include Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey, Chef Hugh Acheson, Mary Kay Andrews and Steve Berry.

New in Southern Voice 

Frinemies, a story about dating and name calling in a small town by Alabama native Julie Respress.

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  • Jill W. / August 10, 2012

    I want to read that book!

  • Conrad Deitrick / August 10, 2012

    It sounds like a great read; sign me up!

  • Kelley Tackett / August 11, 2012

    I can’t wait to read If Jack’s in Love by Stephen Wetta. I marked it some time ago on Goodreads and I’m glad it’s out in paperback. Can’t wait to read this book! Love the picture of Elvis’ library card. Too cool. Keep up the great work!

  • Madelyn / August 13, 2012

    I am putting this on myTBR list. I just won the James Lee Burke book from the Summer Reading contest!

  • Brenda Caradine / August 15, 2012

    So glad we have found Deep South–thank you for all you have done to let your readers know about The Tennessee Williams Tribute Sept 4-9 in Columbus–our brochure of events can be found at http://www.muw.edu/tennesseewilliams.

    – Brenda Caradine, Columbus, Mississippi Birthplace of America’s greatest playwright, March 26, 1911