Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

Margaret Renkl

Tracing the Origins of Empathy for the Natural World

In a new essay for the Chronicle of Higher Education, Michael Sims recalls the books that first led him to nature

January 30, 2012 When Michael Sims walked into a used bookstore in his hometown of Crossville, he discovered a set of children’s encyclopedias from the 1950s and ’60s—books which first spoke to him in the hybrid language of knowledge, curiosity, and wonder—that made him want to be a writer:

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A Radical Act of Love

When his grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, memoirist Robert Leleux unexpectedly found his chance to have, at last, a happy family

January 27, 2012 The Living End: A Memoir of Forgetting and Forgiving is the story of the way Robert Leleux navigates the labyrinth of hospitals and specialists he is cast into when his beloved grandmother is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. To anyone unfamiliar with Leleux’s sense of humor and unerring ability to locate and memorialize absurdity in all its guises, this will no doubt sound like a dreary tale best avoided until life offers no way around it. In fact it is an absolute pleasure to read this gentle, funny, deeply wise memoir of how an encounter with incurable illness turns a boy into a man, and angry people into a family again. Leleux answered questions from Chapter 16 via email prior to his appearance at Parnassus Books in Nashville on January 30 at 6 p.m.

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American Library Association Honors McKissack Once Again

Children’s author Patricia McKissack takes home her ninth Coretta Scott King honor

January 24, 2012 Yesterday at a ceremony in Dallas, the American Library Association announced the winners of the Caldecott, Newbery, and Coretta Scott King awards for children’s literature. Nashville native Patricia C. McKissack has won a prestigious Corretta Scott King Honor Book Award for her children’s picture book, Never Forgotten,” illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon. The awards were announced here.

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An NBCC Nod for Sullivan

John Jeremiah Sullivan’s Pulphead in on the shortlist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in nonfiction

January 23, 2012 At a gala Saturday night, the National Book Critics Circle announced the names of finalists for the 2011 NBCC Awards. Representing Tennessee n the shortlist is John Jeremiah Sullivan, whose collection of essays, Pulphead, was published in November and continues to be reviewed in rhapsodic terms. Read the full list of finalists here. Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on March 8 at 6 p.m.

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Remembering Eleanor

Eleanor Ross Taylor is memorialized in a Washington Post obituary and in an essay in Shenandoah

January 12, 2012 There have been surprisingly few tributes to Eleanor Ross Taylor in the national media during the two weeks since her death: The New York Times, often considered the newspaper of record for books in the United States, still hasn’t published a single line about her loss, which would be a shocking omission but for the Gray Lady’s undeniable bias against poetry. So it’s all the more worth noting the coverage of Taylor’s life and literary significance in both The Washington Post and Shenandoah:

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Without a Literary Blueprint

Madison Smartt Bell remembers his early days in New York City

January 10, 2012 “I arrived in New York in 1979, without a literary blueprint,” writes Madison Smartt Bell in a new essay for The Millions. “I was a Southern boy, from rural Middle Tennessee (okay, by way of Princeton, I admit). My favorite writers at that time were Dostoevsky and Harry Crews. I didn’t know that a contemporary urban fiction existed.”

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