Sides sets a high bar as the first guest of the immensely promising Salon @ 615 series, which offers high-profile author appearances throughout the summer, free and open to the public. (Upcoming authors include Erik Larson, Roy Blount Jr. and a pair of high-powered locals, Ann Patchett and Adam Ross.) He appears 2 p.m. Saturday at the downtown Nashville Public Library, and everyone who's worried about the fate of such events — given Nashville's recent spate of bookstore closings — should rally 'round.
You should also check out the long version of Risen's interview with Sides, who has great memories of the late, revered Civil War historian Shelby Foote:
Chapter 16: Second, as you talk about in the beginning of the book, you spent part of your childhood hanging out at Shelby Foote’s house, some of it (most of it? all?) while he was working on the Civil War trilogy. First of all, what was it like playing at the foot (no pun intended) of the master, and were you aware at the time of what he was doing? And, second, how did his work inform your own career, and in particular this book?
Sides: Shelby’s son Huger Foote (now a fine-art photographer) and I were in a rock band together. We’d be over at Shelby’s house, cranking up the Hendrix and Pink Floyd as loud as possible—doing everything we could to prevent Shelby from finishing his great Civil War trilogy. Shelby would rap on the door and, in a great cloud of pipe smoke, he’d shout, “Huggy, shut up with that racket, I’m workin’ on Appomattox!” And we’d be like, “Appomattox?”