Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

Marshall Chapman wraps a movie

What’s new in Tennessee books—and at Chapter 16—on March 18, 2010

If there’s a living American author more highly—and justly—praised than Memphis writer Richard Bausch for the art of the short story, Chapter 16 can’t imagine who it might be. Consider the opening words to Donna Seaman’s review in the Los Angeles Times of Bausch’s new collection, Something Is Out There: “We surrender our attention to a well-told tale with a particular anticipation, opening ourselves to its rhythms of disclosure, its promise of resolution. And then, because we can hold a story whole in our mind, we replay it and marvel over the subtle clues that point to its inevitable or wildly unexpected conclusion. Such stories become even more intriguing with repeated readings: They are the kind of short stories that Richard Bausch has been creating with artistry and compassion since the early 1980s.” And those are just the opening lines of the piece, which concludes, “[O]ne can imagine a writer of Bausch’s sensitivity as the psyche’s seismologist, taking the measure of every fault, stress, shift, tremor and collision, and reminding us that stability and love are often as much a matter of choice as of fate, a perpetual work-in-progress, a hard-won and forever besieged state of grace.” Read more superlatives—and the full review—here.

In Nashville, meanwhile, Marshall Chapman has wrapped her first film. Chapman plays Gwyneth Paltrow’s road manager in Love Don’t Let Me Down, which was filmed in Music City. Produced by Tobey Maguire, the film also stars Garrett Hedlund as a rising country artist who falls for Paltrow’s character, an older singer. Chapman tells Chapter 16 she loved acting: “Making this movie, for me, was like going to this wonderful day camp for talented misfits,” she says. “Now that it’s over, I’m thinking, ‘Where’d everybody go?!'” Read the Nashville Scene‘s article on the movie here and see Chapman’s photos from the wrap party here.

Chapman is taking a multi-art approach to 2010. In addition to her first outing as an actor, she’s also publishing a new book, launching a new album, and watching the production of her first Off-Broadway musical, Good Ol’ Girls, which was reviewed this week in The New York Times. Don’t miss anything this talented writer/singer/musician/actor is up to; register for your very own copy of Chapman’s monthly newsletter, “The Tall Girl Skinny,” by clicking here.

Ann Patchett makes the leap from page to stage this week herself—albeit in an unusual way. As The Boston Globe reports, composer Elena Ruehr has adapted Patchett’s novel Bel Canto, which won the PEN/Faulkner award in 2002, for string quartet. The novel, whose protagonist is an internationally known soprano, seems ideally suited for an opera or a film and has indeed been optioned for both, though neither has come to fruition yet: “My joke about Bel Canto is that I’ve had everything except a finger-puppet review proposed to me,” Patchett told Globe reporter David Weininger. “So many things have almost happened and dismally failed before they got off the ground.” The Cypress String Quartet sent the Nashville novelist a recording of Ruehr’s quartet, and Patchett loved it: “I’m just really grateful for the gorgeousness of it,” Patchett says. “It’s new, it’s completely fresh and completely hers, but it brings in so many—not even influences but genuine nods to the things she loves. And I love that about it.”

Other links to Tennessee writers in the news:

~an interview in the San Francisco Chronicle with Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone;

~a review in The Dallas Morning News of Molly Caldwell Crosby‘s nonfiction book, Asleep;

~Stephen Colbert’s interview with Rebecca Skloot on The Colbert Report;

~a CBS News segment on Skloot’s book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks;

~a lovely, and provocative, essay by Margaret Lazarus Dean, author of The Time It Takes To Fall, on Lolita;

~an interview by Harrogate novelist Silas House in the New Southerner on protest music for a cause dear to his heart.

Here at Chapter 16, thanks to a confluence of author events around the state, murder most foul is on the menu this week: we’ve got Chris Scott’s interview with east Tennessee authors Jon Jefferson and Bill Bass, who jointly write the Body Farm series of suspense novels, as well as reviews of new books by mystery writers Lisa Lutz, Sharyn McCrumb, and Linda Fairstein. And if government-sanctioned mayhem is more to your taste, don’t miss Serenity Gerbman’s review of Walking to Gatlinburg, the gorgeous new Civil War novel by Howard Frank Mosher: “Corpses clad in gray and corpses clad in blue, mortal enemies in life, boon companions in death, tumbled down the slope in moribund embrace only to be swept away by the freshet at the foot of the hill. … The bones danced a macabre supine dance and clicked together like handheld spoons at a hoedown.” Somehow, we’re betting Dr. Bass would approve of this novel.