Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

Hamilton Cain

Life of Two

Margaret Verble weaves the real and imagined in When Two Feathers Fell from the Sky

In her beguiling When Two Feathers Fell from the Sky, novelist Margaret Verble, a 2016 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation, reimagines, for her own wily aims, the Nashville of a century ago, with allusions to Jim Crow, W.E.B. Du Bois’ Talented Tenth, and the city’s white gentry.

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The Whole of a Life

Bobbie Ann Mason gives her heroine a second life in Dear Ann

In her vibrant new novel, Dear Ann, Bobbie Ann Mason imagines the life that might have been for Ann Workman, a graduate student who pursues love and English literature against the turbulent backdrop of the 1960s. Bobbie Ann Mason will appear at the online 2021 Southern Festival of Books on October 9.

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Limning the Condition of Loneliness

Kristen Radtke’s Seek You considers our solitary era

Kristen Radtke’s Seek You explores the pain and pleasure of solitude in a time of isolation. Radtke will appear at the online 2021 Southern Festival of Books.

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A Brief Life

Motherhood is the beating heart of Maggie O’Farrell’s Hamnet

Maggie O’Farrell’s award-winning novel Hamnet follows the brief life of William Shakespeare’s son and offers a backstory for his wife, Agnes, as woman, mother, and muse. O’Farrell will discuss the book at a virtual event hosted by Parnassus Books in Nashville on May 22.

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My Three Smiths

Reading in a plague year

On New Year’s Day 2020, 24 hours after an initial cluster of COVID-19 cases had been diagnosed in Wuhan, China, I was nose-deep in The Mirror & the Light, the magnificent doorstop conclusion to Dame Hilary Mantel’s Cromwell trilogy, soaking up the pageantry and intrigue of Henry VIII’s court. Mantel cast a spell, and I was blissfully unaware of reports radiating outward from East Asia and then from Italy. Doomscrolling was future tense.

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Roaming Internal Landscapes

M. Randal O’Wain’s stories limn the South’s inequities and anguished history

In his story collection Hallelujah Station, Memphis native M. Randal O’Wain explores lives we’ve pushed to the margins. There’s suffering aplenty, but there are also dashes of art — poets, Dutch Masters, David Lynch — to leaven the pain.

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