As book titles go, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City certainly catches the ear — vulgar and funny at the same time, kind of like its subject matter. And it says something about Nick Flynn that he chose this not as the title of some complaining, dystopian novel, but rather, as the title of his memoir.
Like the best writers, Flynn — whether telling the story of his father’s years as a homeless transient, or in sturdy, contemplative poems — can keep both the garish and the mundane in a constant dance with each other. Literate but unpretentious, well-crafted without being cumbersome or writerly, Flynn’s writing intensifies the things it describes, extracting meaning from even the simplest moments and making them indelible. At this event, sponsored by the Vandy creative writing program, Flynn will read from his poetry.
This makes a lot of sense. HarperCollins already owns Zondervan and has the HarperOne imprint. Speaking in very, very broad terms, Zondervan's focus is on religious books that go into Christian bookstores or are used as church curricula. HarperOne is aimed more at the secular bookstore market. And Thomas Nelson really hits that sweet spot right down the middle — doing some very successful titles that appeal to the secular bookstore model and being a mainstay of the Christian bookstore.
The other thing that Thomas Nelson has a reputation for is its engagement with the electronic realm — its embrace of blogging and digital communication as well as its ability to produce ebooks, without the whole press getting sucked into a vortex of painful ridiculousness where various staffers run around having increasingly public breakdowns where they give maudlin recitations of the good old days when a book was a book (which is how most other publishers are handling the arrival of the digital age). Just having that expertise is probably worth whatever the cost of acquiring them is.
When the festival kicks off today at noon, it does so with an embarrassment of literary riches. Here's Captain Ridley from our day-by-day reckoning of the festival's highlights:
Even though noon Friday is the SFB's first slot, it's already studded with tough choices — proof this year's fest doesn't plan to make it easy on local readers. Taylor Stevens arrives with the festival's most compelling backstory: From age 12 she spent her adolescence separated from her parents in the apocalypse cult the Children of God, pressed into service as a globe-trotting beggar and "worker bee child" until she escaped in her 20s. She's gunning for Stieg Larsson's readership with her new thriller The Informationist (noon, Room 12, Legislative Plaza).
• Scheduled opposite her are acclaimed Nashville historical novelist Brenda Rickman Vantrease, who re-creates intrigue in the time of Henry VIII in The Heretic's Wife (Room 16, Legislative Plaza); A Good Scent From a Strange Mountain Pulitzer Prize-winner Robert Olen Butler (House Chambers); the "Southern Light" panel of 12 contemporary Southern poets led by best-selling Gap Creek novelist and poet Robert Morgan (Old Supreme Court Room); and one of the city's best songwriters and live performers, David Olney (Chapter 16 Stage).
• Best of all at that time, though, may be the pairing of veteran lyricist turned novelist Joe Henry (Lime Creek) with National Book Award finalist Bonnie Jo Campbell, whose novel Once Upon a River received one of The New York Times Book Review's most glowing summer raves (Room 29, Legislative Plaza).
Before you head out to the festival, be sure to check back with the official festival site for any last-minute changes, as the lineup is subject to change. But most importantly, be sure to head out to the festival. It's free, and you know what happens when we don't support books, right?
UPDATE: Saturday's appearances by The Night Circus author Erin Morganstern have been canceled. According to the SFB's Twitter feed, she hopes to reschedule for a later event.
In addition to writing songs for Frank Sinatra, John Denver, Trisha Yearwood and Roberta Flack, to name a few, Henry has led a colorful life: He's worked as a rancher and a professional boxer, and he got an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where he studied under Kurt Vonnegut.
For years he's been writing poetry celebrating the natural splendor of the American West, and he's won awards from the National Wildlife Federation and others for his conservation efforts. He's just released his first novel, Lime Creek. According to the press release, it's "a lyrical series of pictures, verses about a family living on a horse farm in rural Wyoming."
Renowned Hollywood actor Anthony Zerbe (Omega Man, Cool Hand Luke, Papillon, Rooster Cogburn, The Matrix Reloaded ... the list goes on and on) is a friend of Henry's, and Zerbe has created a stage performance based on scenes from the book called A Lime Creek Christmas. Zerbe will join Henry at Nashville Public Library tonight, and will read from Henry's book. This should be one of the most exciting Salon@615 events of the year — and that says a lot.
The reading is at 6:30 p.m. tonight, Wednesday, Sept. 28, in the downtown library auditorium. The full press release, below:
So we're happy to pass along word that Bridges — matchless raconteur, Jedi master of the martini-making arts and one of the Scene's formative voices — will host a viewing party Thursday, Sept. 29, at The Belcourt. The occasion is the 7:30 p.m. premiere of the CBS sitcom adapted loosely (and we mean "loosely") from his book of the same title.
As you'll recall, the rights to Bridges' book were bought by It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia writer/executive producer David Hornsby. It has been refashioned into an ensemble comedy about a reserved etiquette columnist (Hornsby) who seeks a different set of life lessons from his macho-man trainer (Kevin Dillon). Dave Foley plays the columnist's editor; the supporting cast includes Mary Lynn Rajskub and The Flight of the Conchords' Rhys Darby.
The show's got a strong lead-in Thursday nights from multiple Emmy nominee The Big Bang Theory, and it has turned up on numerous online lists of the fall's most anticipated TV shows. It can only boost the sales and visibility of the "Gentlemanners" series, which Bridges and Bryan Curtis (who co-authored the subsequent books) have built into a gift-for-all-seasons franchise. (There's even a spin-off series for young ladies by Scene contributor Kay West.)
The Sept. 29 event features cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and a silent auction. Proceeds from the auction and the $30 tickets ($100 for patrons) go to The Brooks Fund at The Community Foundation. Tickets may be purchased by clicking here, with any remaining seats available at the door.
Below: the show's trailer.
Collins is also hosting a presentation on fashion trends. But if I were she, I would walk right out of there if I spied a model holding a Dooney and Bourke purse or wearing jeans that have been ass-bedazzled. The tyranny must end, and I call on Jackie Collins to set an example for great-aunts everywhere.
I was working the night shift on the literary beat when a voice purred from the darkness: “Hey, lover man, know where a girl could find a little ... action? Between covers?”
Out stepped a swell-looking babe with a figure like John Grisham’s last advance and a Lisa Scottoline paperback tucked under her arm. One look at her roadmap of curves, and the soymilk in my mochaccino turned to foam.
“You’re in luck, sugar puss,” I said, releasing the spell-check on my Office 2.0. “The mystery lovers’ conference is bringing in muscle from out of town. You know Donald Bain, the guy who writes the Murder, She Wrote whodunits? And Robert Dugoni, who penned those David Sloane courtroom thrillers? And Bill Bass, that forensics guy who knows where the skeletons are buried at the Body Farm? They’re over at the Hutton Hotel, waiting for others to show up. That mug Steve Womack’s gonna be packing local heat any second.
"But it could get ugly, crumbcake. There’ll be a crime scene to examine. Parties. Book signings. Trivia contests. Plus they’re going to be talking character development, and pitches, and … agents. It’s no place for a lady.”
Her voice was a prostate exam with a glove full of feathers. “I’m not a lady,” she cooed. “I’m a mystery fan.”
Full three-day registration is $170; for more info, see killernashville.com.
Lawrence Wright caused a sensation earlier this year with his epic New Yorker investigative piece "The Apostate," a nervy inquest into the secrets of Scientology and Oscar-winning writer-director Paul Haggis' split from the fold. (Bet the New Yorker's legendarily rigorous fact-checking department had fun with that one.)
But if you've never read The Looming Tower, Wright's exploration of the roots of Islamic radicalism that led to the Sept. 11 attacks, you haven't just missed one of the most gripping nonfiction books of the decade. You've missed a work that makes sense of a world that seemed to have come unhinged. Wright honed his chops in Nashville in 1971 at the now-defunct Race Relations Reporter before moving on to a distinguished career as a journalist and nonfiction author.
Wright returns to Nashville, appropriately enough, on Sept. 11 for a two-night reflection at Vanderbilt on the 10th anniversary of the attacks. On the 11th, he'll deliver a talk on The Looming Tower and the changes wrought over the past 10 years. The next night, he will host the first Nashville screening of My Trip to al-Qaeda, the 2010 film version of his one-man show about the conflicts he faced researching and writing the book. The HBO production is directed by acclaimed documentarian Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Darkside).
Both events are free and open to the public.
Where: Portland Brew East, 1921 Eastland Ave.
When: 7:30 p.m. Fri., Aug. 19
In a video recently posted to YouTube, writer Patrick Wensink makes an apology, of sorts, to a certain noted Gambler. “I’m sorry I made you the villain of my novel, Black Hole Blues,” Wensink intones, in a voice that’s every bit as snotty as menwholooklikekennyrogers.com is full of men who look like Kenny Rogers. “I assumed you’d never been the villain of a novel before and would be flattered,” he continues, before finally cutting the deck: “I’m sorry I got so mad I started a website called ‘Death to Kenny Rogers.’ I’m sorry I said you were the Unabomber. I’m sorry I said you eat babies. ... I’m sorry that I created a game called ‘Death to Kenny Rogers,’ and I’m sorry I held it around the country on my book tour this year.” Wensink’s so sorry, in fact, he’ll be hosting that very game — and reading from his book, of course — in Rogers’ old stomping grounds. Hope he knows when to run.
Patchett and her team seem to understand the necessity of bridging the gap between digital and printed literature, and the press release shows a marked focus on features in both mediums. The store will be stocked with fiction, nonfiction, children's books, local interest books and books on the arts — all in both printed and digital formats. There will be magazines, journals and greeting cards, and the store will also enable customers to buy e-books through its website and its affiliation with Google eBooks.
They've already set up a Facebook page, where there will be frequent updates on new releases and special events — such as meetings for the Parnassus First Edition Club, which sounds like a hybrid between a book club and a book-collecting class — and there will also be a corresponding website with monthly blog posts penned by Patchett.
Store hours will be 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon-5 p.m. on Sunday. Look for more updates on Parnassus Books as we receive them.
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