Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

Sarah Norris

Right Before Your Very Eyes

Erin Morgenstern’s debut novel, The Night Circus, is a spellbinding read

October 11, 2011 Erin Morgenstern, the debut author of one of this fall’s most anticipated novels, is drawing widespread comparisons to both J.K. Rowling and Stephanie Meyer. With The Night Circus, the thirty-three-year-old multimedia artist has not only crafted a story of epic proportions but also turned her own life into a fairy tale, replete with what looks to be a very happy ending.

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In Diana Abu-Jaber’s new novel, a teen leaves home for no reason—and upends her family’s future

September 13, 2011 Birds of Paradise by Diana Abu-Jaber is structured like literary Chinese handcuffs: no character in this book can be free without first moving closer to the others, and no reader can finish it without looping backwards, too, through her own history. Abu-Jaber will discuss and sign copies of Birds of Paradise at the Booksellers at Laurelwood in Memphis on September 21 at 6 p.m.

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Bam, Bam, Bam, Bam

James Whorton Jr.’s third novel, Angela Sloan, unfolds at breakneck speed

August 24, 2011 With a derelict, fourteen-year-old narrator whose voice is a cross between Holden Caulfield and Ramona Quimby, James Whorton Jr.’s Angela Sloan is structured like an essay on how the eponymous protagonist spent her summer vacation. But instead of a school report, it’s a 200-page letter addressed to the CIA. And instead of recounting Angela’s adventures at sleep-away camp or pedaling a Schwinn ten-speed around the block, it tracks her father’s recent ensnarement in the Watergate burglaries and their decision to hit the road with fake IDs. In fact, it’s more or less the furious story of one crazy-making event after another.

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Seeing Sparks

Minton Sparks brings to life the South of strained relations and small-town sirens

July 21, 2011 Fresh from sold-out shows in New York City and an unprecedented award from the Fellowship of Southern Writers, Minton Sparks continues to pursue a literary art form she invented from scratch. Now this genre-defying performance poet, songwriter, and novelist—whose fans and collaborators include Dorothy Allison, Marshall Chapman, and John Prine—is back home in Nashville, but already she’s got her eye on Broadway.

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Every year the Mountain Heritage Literary Festival in Harrogate attracts dozens of people who are crazy about writing

July 7, 2011 Founded six years ago by author Silas House, then Lincoln Memorial University’s writer-in-residence, the Mountain Heritage Literary Festival is packed with lectures; workshops in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry; readings by teachers as well as students; a play; and multiple concerts. This year, Chapter 16’s Sarah Norris was there, and sends this report from Harrogate.

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An Opry Home Companion

With A Guitar and a Pen Old Time Radio Hour, novelist Robert Hicks has created a live broadcast that just might save the printed word

May 25, 2011 When Garrison Keillor got the idea for his long-running radio show, A Prairie Home Companion, he was sitting in the Confederate Gallery of the Ryman Auditorium, watching the Opry. Now novelist Robert Hicks has created his own home-grown radio variety show, A Guitar and a Pen Old Time Radio Hour, a combination of the Opry and A Prairie Home Companion, with a dash of Thacker Mountain Radio thrown in. Chapter 16 checked in on last week’s show, which featured readings by novelist William Gay and musical performances by Holly Williams, daughter of Hank Jr. Another edition of “A Guitar and a Pen Old Time Radio Hour” will be taped at Puckett’s Grocery and Restaurant in Franklin on May 26 and will feature Eric Brace, Peter Cooper, Fayssoux Starling McLean, and Rodney Crowell. The show starts at 6 p.m. Cost is $15, and seating is limited. To make reservations, call 615-794-5527.

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