HomeArts & LitLiterary Friday, Edition 69

Literary Friday, Edition 69

Interview & Giveaway with Wilton Barnhardt

Lookaway-LookawayOur summer reading celebration comes to a close with the publication of “Lookaway, Lookaway” by North Carolina author Wilton Barnhardt this week. Set in Charlotte, the novel takes the reader character by character to reveal the dirty laundry of the Johnston family. If you’ve seen the “Jerenisms” we’ve been posting all week, then you know that matriarch Jerene Jarvis Johnston is very concerned with appearances. She’s got her hands full with four adult kids who act like children, a husband who hasn’t lived up to his political aspirations and brother who is a stereotype of the drunken Southern writer. Things come to a head during a Christmas dinner to rival all family dinners, during which family secrets are aired and one member ends up in the hospital. Read our interview with Barnhardt to find out more about the inspiration behind Jerene and why he won’t be able to get her, or any of the other characters for that matter, out of his head anytime soon.

We also have a copy of “Lookaway, Lookaway” to give away. To enter to win, you must comment on the interview or on this post with your best story of a family function gone awry. We’ll choose a winner on Monday.

Guide to the Decatur Book Festival 

As summer winds down and fall approaches, the Southern book festival calendar begins to fill up. Get your author fix over Labor Day weekend at the Decatur Book Festival in Georgia. With hundreds of bestselling authors, more than 50 book launches and 20 stages, planning who to see and what to do during the festival can be a challenge. Our guide for Southern lit fans will help you make the most of your DBF experience.

Literary News & Blogs 

ElmoreLeonardLargeCrime novelist Elmore Leonard, who was born in New Orleans, died on Tuesday. The Huffington Post has 10 Essential Elmore Leonard Reads in his memory.

The Atlantic has a piece this week on why comparing Lee Daniels’ “The Butler” to Forrest Gump isn’t fair.

Blogger Tamara Welch interviews Katherine Center, author of “The Lost Husband” about a woman who finds a new life on a farm in Texas after losing her husband.

Oprah recommends “Southern Cross the Dog” as one of her 18 Must-Read Books to Pick Up This August. About a family who barely survives the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, the book follows seemingly cursed son Robert as he wanders the broken land.

mysweetaudrina_coverHaunted Lafayette, Louisiana by writer Chere Coen is out this week. She visited Lafayette’s most haunted sites and traveled the countryside in search of ghostly legends found only in South Louisiana for what’s sure to be a spooky read.

Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple” is included in Flavorwire’s 50 Essential Works of LGBT Fiction. Flavorwire also has a list of 40 Trashy Novels You Must Read Before You Die that calls to mind late nights of raiding your parents’ bookshelves and includes some tantalizing tales by V.C. Andrews, Anne Rice, Erskine Caldwell and, of course, Margaret Mitchell.

Literary Events

The AJC Decatur Book Festival is scheduled for August 30-September 1, in Decatur Georgia. In addition to Friday night’s keynote address by Congressman John Lewis, other special guests this year include Clyde Edgerton, inaugural poet Richard Blanco and some of our summer reading authors like Karen White, Wendy Wax, Claire Cook and Mary Alice Monroe. The festival has also announced a wide range of programming for children and the largest and most diverse LGBT track lineup in the festival’s history. See our guide to the festival here.

The 12th annual Tennessee Williams Tribute and Tour of Victorian Homes will be held September 3-8 in Columbus, Mississippi. This year’s events include “Period of Adjustment” performed at Mississippi University for Women, the Moon Lake Party with Williams’ “Autumn Song,” the Stella Shouting Contest and a booksigning with author Michael Farris Smith of “Rivers” at his Victorian home.

SFOBThe Southern Festival of Books in Nashville will take place October 11-13 at War Memorial Plaza. This year’s authors include Ace Atkins, Rick Bragg, Wiley Cash, Therese Ann Fowler, Tom Franklin, Ann Hite, Jill McCorkle, Mary Alice Monroe, Susan Rebecca White and many more.

Save the date for the Louisiana Book Festival, scheduled for November 2 in Baton Rouge this year. More details coming soon!

Many of the authors on our Summer Reading List have booksigning events coming up. See our Summer Booksignings Calendar to find out if they’ll be in your town.

New in Southern Voice 

Shell Partners, a story about that moment in young love when a woman going steady with one man falls for another, by Jennifer Riley.


To find out more about Southern authors’ haunts and hangouts, download the Deep South Literary Trail App, available direct from iTunes and for Android

Wilton Barnhardt on
Shell Partners
  • Anita / August 23, 2013

    So many holiday meals gone awry with my family!! My favorite though is Christmas Morning 1970 and my 2nd sister ,21,arrives with a month old baby girl!! Wow, talk about a shock. I was 10, our whole family was in shock, nice words were said. Polite conversation in semi public places is the way of Southerners right? Later that night the conversation that went down between my parents and sister was heated and ugly. They loaded her up with baby clothes etc and sent her back to CA.

  • Tamara / August 23, 2013

    Family functions over the years tend to go awry far more than they go perfectly well: 1 year my cousin let her 4 year old carry the party mix out to the table (why I have no idea- hello, she was 4!) She spilled it everywhere! Another year, the shrimp that was supposed to be our appetizers was dropped and spilled in the yard as people were coming in (the dogs did not mind!) Food poisoning another year made for a holly jolly event. Me falling down the stairs at a 4th of July event. My cousin picking up his niece and her hand hitting the fan blade (it’s a low, low ceiling) resulted in a trip to the ER for our birthday party. One of the kids knocking over the Christmas tree in their zeal to get to a present. Do I have a favorite memory? Not really- because they all have something funny or memorable about them that we can laugh at later. Obviously, we should never get together for a family event again- as disaster seems to follow us everywhere we go- and yet we do.

  • Marie / August 24, 2013

    Growing up, our family always made the trip to my aunt’s lake house on Horseshoe Lake (in Arkansas) every Fourth of July. One year when I was very young, the adults were setting off the usual fireworks. I’m not exactly sure what happened, but the dock caught on fire. Luckily, there was plenty of lake water around, so the dock (and the evening) were saved.
    Oddly enough, ever since I was a child I’ve been a little skittish around firecrackers.

  • Anne / August 24, 2013

    Our son was getting married and the wedding was out of town which necessitated a great deal of travel and patience. Upon our arrival we were ignored, staying in a sub-par hotel and feeling that something was definitely not right. The next morning we found out that we had to pay for the entire wedding, the rehearsal dinner since the bride’s father had absconded with the money (which really never existed) and had also cancelled the wedding. Guests were arriving and we had to save the day. What a debacle it would have been had we not come to the rescue. A memory I prefer to forget, unfortunately I never will be able to since it was so memorable.

  • SweetTeainTN / August 25, 2013

    When I was in high school the famed Halley’s Comet was due to make an appearance and my dad though it would be a great idea to wake the whole family up in the middle of the night to drive out to a mountain top to best take in the experience. This would ensure that the street lights would not interfere with our viewing. So off we go – sometime in the early A.M. hours. My dad, my mom, me and my brother all in our p.j.s. . As we got to the top of this mountain my dad pulled the car over on the shoulder of the road. We had only been there a few minutes when a state trooper pulled up and wanted to know why we were on the side of the road at 2:00 a.m. in nothing but our pajamas. Needless to say, we were told to head home and we did!