Author Wiley Cash is currently on tour for the paperback release of his novel, A Land More Kind Than Home. Last night, he came through Nashville for an evening of bedazzled suits and good music.
The event was held at Manuel Couture, a rhinestone cowboy's paradise, filled with those studded, glittering suits that feel indicative of country music. Elvis’ signature gold lamé suit? That was from Manuel.
Despite all my efforts, Wiley Cash did not dress in any of the suits. (And I promise, I really tried.) But if he had, it would've looked something like this, approximately:
Musician Amanda McCoy, who wrote the song for the paperback book trailer, performed. And whew, that girl can sing. Here's the trailer:
Cash, a native North Carolinian, shared some great stories about moving to Louisiana and discovering the many "Souths." We interviewed Cash last spring for A Land More Kind Than Home, where he talked about discovering the literature of the South, publishing his first novel and crafting memorable characters. Read it here.
Chatting with Cash—and with the couturier himself—in this legendary store made for one of my favorite book events. Have you been to any great book parties at unique locations?
The Southern Festival of Books starts tomorrow in Nashville, and readers: If you live anywhere near our city, I recommend you come for a visit because this year's festival is going to be truly awesome. There will be more than 200 authors present, and the lineup is so impressive I can't quite believe our good fortune.
First order of business: I will be talking to three authors as part of a BookPage live interview series. These interviews take place on the Chapter 16 Stage, which is close to the entrance of the Legislative Plaza and the book sales tent. I would love to meet any BookPage readers in person, and I know you'll enjoy hearing from these three talented authors. (There will be time for questions from the audience, too—it won't just be me yammering away the whole time!)
Friday, October 12, 3-4 PM
I'll be talking to Bellwether Prize-winner Naomi Benaron about Running the Rift, a gorgeously written and heartbreaking coming-of-age story about an aspiring Olympic runner, set during the Rwandan Genocide. (Hint: The paperback of this novel comes out next week and it would be a great pick for book clubs.)
Saturday, October 13, 1-2 PM
Come hear me talk to Inman Majors, the author of the makes-you-want-to-cry-it's-so-funny Love's Winning Plays, a satire about SEC football. (If you're football-shy, never fear: This is really a story about an unlikely friendship. Football lingo and scenes are minimal. And really, football fanatics and people who roll their eyes at the sport will find plenty to appreciate in this book.)
Sunday, October 14, 2-2:30 PM
I can't wait to chat with local thriller author J.T. Ellison, whose first book in a series starring Tennessee Medical Examiner Samantha Owens—A Deeper Darkness—kept me up until 2 a.m. on a work night. Book #2 comes out in November, so jump on board with the series as it's being written. (Scarpetta fans will love it.)
I'm also moderating a YA panel on Sunday:
Sunday, October 14, 12-1 PM
The theme of the panel is "Creating Our Own Realities: Young People Making Sense of Their World" and the authors are John Corey Whaley and Loretta Ellsworth.
Whaley's Where Things Come Back might just be the most acclaimed YA novel that was published in 2011: It won the 2012 Printz Award, the 2012 William C. Morris Debut Fiction Award and Whaley was the first-ever YA author to be selected as a "Top 5 Under 35 Author" by the National Book Foundation. I loved this book. It's a story about growing up in a small town, hope, an obsession with a bird (!) and so much more.
Ellsworth's novel, Unforgettable, is fascinating—it's definitely one of those "what if" kinds of stories that makes you think. The main character, Baxter, has a photographic memory and suffers from synesthesia. He also testified against his mother's ex-boyfriend who is now out of jail, so there is an element of suspense that keeps you turning pages.
Frankly, there are far too many must-see authors speaking at the festival to highlight everybody, but here are a few that we're especially excited about:
• You know Junot Díaz? That guy who just won a MacArthur "Genius" Grant and is a National Book Award Finalist and is a past winner of the Pulitzer Prize? Well, he's speaking on Saturday at 4 P.M. at War Memorial Auditorium.
• Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl is the breakaway hit of 2012. Everybody I know is reading it—people who devour suspense, people who typically don't read "genre" novels, people who aren't usually aware of contemporary fiction. I adored this chilling, completely unpredictable story of a marriage and a police investigation. Flynn is speaking on Saturday at 11 A.M. at War Memorial Auditorium.
• I've heard Ron Rash speak twice at past Southern Festivals, and he is wonderful—funny, interesting, entertaining. Go hear him speak on Saturday at 10 A.M. in Room 12 of the Legislative Plaza.
• As a reader of his own work, Adam Ross gives the best performances I've ever heard from an author (seriously). Claire Vaye Watkins' collection Battleborn is one of the most haunting and exciting debuts of the year. Adam Prince has recently been named one of the 20 best new writers by Narrative magazine. Hear all three of them together on Saturday at 3 P.M. in the Nashville Public Library Auditorium.
• Damien Echols, one of the "West Memphis Three" who served 18 years on death row (for murders he did not commit), will speak about his memoir, Life After Death, on Sunday at 1 P.M. in War Memorial Auditorium.
And friends: That is only the tip of the iceberg.
Other authors you can see live and in person: Chris Pavone, author of The Expats; Padgett Powell, author of You & Me; Jay Jennings, editor of Escape Velocity: A Charles Portis Miscellany; Amy Franklin-Willis, author of The Lost Saints of Tennessee; Lauren Groff, author of Arcadia; Margot Livesey, author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy; Katherine Paterson, the former National Ambassador for Young People's Literature who is beloved for her novel Bridge to Terabithia; David Maraniss, author of Barack Obama: The Story; Dan Chaon, author of Stay Awake: Stories; Alice Randall, author of Ada's Rules: A Sexy, Skinny Novel; Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and the Unlikely Road to Manhood (and a contributor to The Atlantic); Sharon Creech, author of The Great Unexpected (and Walk Two Moons!); Courtney Miller Santo, author of The Roots of the Olive Tree; R.L Stine, author of GOOSEBUMPS(!!); Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk; Karen Thompson Walker, author of The Age of Miracles . . . and more!
Can you see why we're so excited?
Browse the Southern Festival of Books schedule; make a game plan for which sessions you're going to attend; and come prepared to ask questions and buy books. Visit the festival's mobile website to plan on the go.
Which events are you planning to attend? See you this weekend! (I'll be the dork carrying a stack of 15 autographed books.)
Here at BookPage we are getting very excited about this weekend's Southern Festival of Books, held right here in Nashville.
It would be impossible to see everyone at the SFoB, but I am going to do my best to hear:
If you can't make it, follow the action live on Twitter with the #SoFest hashtag. Visit The Book Case next week for a report on all the festivities.
Mr. Peanut came out yesterday, and the BookPage staff rang in the publication at a packed reading/signing at Davis-Kidd Booksellers and a party at a local restaurant. Author Adam Ross is originally from New York, though he said Mr. Peanut is his "Nashville book" since he started working on it about 15 years ago after he moved to town with his wife.
In BookPage, reviewer Jillian Quint gave a perfect description of the novel: "Through three men’s interlocking though asymmetrical narratives, Mr. Peanut tells the story of all marital strife—with an emphasis on the ugly side, replete with violence, pain, inertia, manipulation, sexual longing and destruction." As you might imagine, the story is complex, and I won't describe it other than to say it's got one of the most interesting and unique structures I've seen in a book all year. (I finished it two nights ago and stayed up until 2 a.m. reading. Ross told me he thinks the book is best read in "chunks," and I agree—you won't want to put it down, anyway.)
If you have the opportunity to see Ross on tour, I would go for it, as Ross (a child actor—and you could tell from his expressive voice) was an entertaining reader and very engaged with the audience. See the cities he's visiting here.
Notoriously harsh Michiko Kakutani called Ross "an enormously talented writer" in the New York Times and Mr. Peanut "induced nightmares" in Stephen King. Last night, people who had either started or finished Mr. Peanut were noticeably excited about the book, and here at BookPage editors have been fighting over review copies. I think it's safe to say that Ross's debut novel is already a hit, and there will be many readers eagerly waiting for his next project: story collection Ladies & Gentlemen.
Have you read Mr. Peanut? Is it on your TBR list? What authors have you enjoyed meeting?