Literary Friday, Edition 69
Interview & Giveaway with Wilton Barnhardt
Our 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
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.
Haunted 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.
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.
The 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!
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.