Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

Cormac McCarthy Breaks His Silence

What’s new in Tennessee books—and at Chapter 16—on November 19, 2009

Cormac McCarthy is not a recluse, but from a reader’s point of view, he might as well be. He doesn’t go to book festivals or writers’ conferences, and he doesn’t give readings or sign books for fans. He almost never sits for an interview. News from the mind of Cormac McCarthy, who grew up in Knoxville, is therefore rarely available raw and unfiltered by art. If you want to know what new thing McCarthy is thinking about, you’ve got to read his latest novel.

There’s been no new novel since The Road, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2007, and that’s what makes John Jurgensen’s interview in The Wall Street Journal so welcome. In their far-ranging conversation, McCarthy discusses the new film version of The Road, the future of the human race, what God may or may not be doing, his reasons for writing about the West, and why he doesn’t take vacations: “I have no desire to go on a trip. My perfect day is sitting in a room with some blank paper. That’s heaven. That’s gold and anything else is just a waste of time.” Read the whole story at WSJ Online.

In other literary news from around the state:

  • Nashvillian Amanda Little, author of Power Trip: From Oil Wells to Solar Cells—Our Ride to the Renewable Future, has been tapped by Grist, an online news magazine about the environment, to cover the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen next month. Click on “Reviews” to see Chris Scott’s coverage of the book, first published in Chapter 16 on October 15.
  • Sam Venable, Knoxville News Sentinel columnist and author of several books, including Someday I May Find Honest Work: A Newspaper Humorist’s Life, has been inducted into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame.
  • The Nashville Library Foundation has announced a tally of proceeds from the Gala events featuring Doris Kearns Goodwin. The net is a tidy $365,000, a twelve percent increase from last year. To read Goodwin’s interview with Michael Ray Taylor for Chapter 16, first published on November 5, check out the Q&A section.

We’re taking Thanksgiving off, so look for an unusually large bounty of new material this week: Clay Risen’s profile of Richard Bausch, winner of the 2009 Dayton Literary Peace Prize; a poem by Bill Brown; an essay by Lyda Phillips about coming face-to-face with Stokely Carmichael during the 1966 March Against Fear in Memphis; Paul McCoy’s interview with Michael Streissguth, whose book, Always Been There, chronicles the making of Rosanne Cash’s new album, The List; Maria Browning’s review of Madison Smartt Bell’s new novel, Devil’s Dream, about famed Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest; and Lacey Galbraith’s review of Robert Hicks’s novel, A Separate Country, about another famed Confederate general, John Bell Hood. Both Hicks and Bell will be reading in Nashville this week; click on “Events” for details.

We’ll be back on December 3 with more great articles about the literary life of Tennessee. In the meantime, look around Chapter 16 for a new book to curl up with as the nights lengthen and the cold creeps in.