Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

John Egerton

Finding Her Literary Voice in the South

Bestselling novelist Cathie Pelletier reflects on her move from Maine to Tennessee

FROM THE CHAPTER 16 ARCHIVE: Cathie Pelletier, a native of Maine, fell in love with Tennessee when she and a friend hitch-hiked down South over thirty years ago. After moving to Nashville in 1976, Pelletier found inspiration in almost everything, from the bars frequented by songwriters to the smell of springtime wisteria. Today, she talks about her time in Tennessee and the way it has shaped her writing. 

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Be Reconciled

Remembering Will D. Campbell, author, preacher, and civil-rights activist

June 28, 2013 Two of Tennessee’s most senior nonfiction authors, Will D. Campbell and John Egerton, reached the close of a half-century of companionship this month when Campbell died from complications of a stroke on June 3, 2013. At a memorial service on June 22 at St. Stephen Catholic Community in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, Egerton eulogized his friend and “fellow writer of rare books” with this remembrance.

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De-Fictionalizing the South

Twenty-five years after the publication of his memoir about Southern politics, journalist James D. Squires talks with Chapter 16 about The Secrets of the Hopewell Box

June 6, 2013 When it first appeared in 1986, The Secrets of the Hopewell Box by James D. Squires was a Tennessee sensation, dealing with the seldom-exposed underbelly of ward politics in a Southern city on the cusp of social change. The book got good regional and national exposure for a couple of years, but inexplicably the publisher let it go out of print. Now, Vanderbilt University Press has reissued it in paperback, giving readers a second chance to be entertained by and instructed about a period of local history that had national implications in politics, civil rights, reapportionment, and the sensational federal trial of labor boss Jimmy Hoffa.

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How They Played the Game

Fred Russell may have entered the clubhouse on the coattails of legendary sportswriter Grantland Rice, but once he got there, he was home

November 14, 2012 Two of the most celebrated sportswriters in American history were born a generation apart and attended the same university: Grantland Rice graduated from Vanderbilt in 1901, and Fred Russell followed in 1927. Russell idolized his predecessor and emulated him in some ways, but their differences were significant, and most of them bend in Russell’s favor. Andrew Derr’s new biography, Life of Dreams: The Good Times of Sportswriter Fred Russell, brings some needed balance to a comparison of the illustrious careers of these two Vanderbilt icons.

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Are We Nearing the End of the Print Age?

Nashville author John Egerton contemplates the future of the written word

In 1942, when I was a rambunctious lad of seven, I was diagnosed with tuberculosis. The prescription for my recovery called for naps at ten and two, bedtime at seven—and plenty of rest in between. Bad news for a kid, but my mother was as resourceful as she was wise. “Let’s publish a newspaper,” she said. “I’ll teach you how to make stories that we can type up and print on the mimeo.” Thus began my introduction to reading and writing as self-generated pleasures, to the painful necessities of editing and rewriting, to the messy fun of putting ink to paper, and to the intoxicating thrill of seeing front-page news under my byline. The awe and wonder eventually turned to pride of craft, then drudgery, then boredom—but I have never forgotten the sense of empowerment I got from that first opportunity to learn adult skills.

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Seeing in the Dark

John Egerton considers a new memoir by a blind man—and the whole future of book publishing

March 17, 2011 The book business is in serious trouble. In Nashville alone, Zibart’s and Mills are so long-gone that most shoppers in their Hillsboro Village and Green Hills neighborhoods have never heard of them. Now Davis-Kidd is also gone, and OutLoud too, and Borders on West End is tiptoeing under a corporate-bankruptcy cloud. In Knoxville, Carpe Librum is shuttered. In Memphis, BookStar is gone, too, and the only remaining Davis-Kidd outlet in the state is in limbo because its Ohio-based corporate owners have filed for bankruptcy protection. Author John Egerton considers this blighted landscape and finds a ray of hope in the persistence of self-published authors like David Meador, who are helping to keep the literary embers warm in these distressing times. David Meador will discuss and autograph Broken Eyes, Unbroken Spirit at BookMan/BookWoman in Nashville on March 22 at 5 p.m.

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