Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

All Across the Wide State

What’s new in Tennessee books—and at Chapter 16—on January 21, 2010

The inexpressible tragedy in Haiti has turned Madison Smartt Bell into the most thoughtful, sought-after commentator in the media, Dolen Perkins-Valdez talks to NPR, Rebecca Skloot throws a wide net (and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks lands in the February issues of both O and Popular Science), reviews are pouring in for Morristown debut novelist Amy Greene, and a British television show just might turn Abraham Verghese into a millionaire.

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Casting a Southern Gothic Spell

Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl whip up a froth of teenage angst and love, topped with a tangy drizzle of dark and light magic

Ethan Wate, the sixteen-year-old scion of an old Southern family, feels as if complete stagnation is slowly destroying his soul. Then Lena Duchannes arrives. The mysterious new girl is the niece of the town’s reclusive—and unpopular—eccentric, who lives in a crumbling mansion on the outskirts of town. It’s only a matter of time before voodoo charms give way to graves in this debut YA novel. Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl will read from and sign copies of Beautiful Creatures at Davis-Kidd Booksellers in Memphis on January 27 at 6 p.m.

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Against Closure

In a new story collection, Lorraine López writes with nuance about loneliness and dislocation

In her newest story collection, Homicide Survivors Picnic, Lorraine M. López writes, “There are some things we just can’t help.” Things like dead birds. Ex-husbands. Poor choices. Bad cats. It’s no picnic for many of her finely drawn characters to clean up the messes others have fecklessly abandoned. López, who teaches creative writing and literature at Vanderbilt University, is the recipient of numerous Latino awards for her writing, but this collection defies boundaries of skin color, ancestry, and gender, elevating mundane events and predicaments to the scope of larger human dramas.

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The People's Court

Legal scholar Barry Friedman dissects the public’s power over the Supreme Court

Americans across the political spectrum like to complain about the unchecked power of the Supreme Court. In The Will of the People, former Vanderbilt law professor Barry Friedman offers a meticulously researched account of the Court’s most important decisions, from Marbury v. Madison to Bush v. Gore, and reveals that the public has always had the last word.

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Another View of Haiti

What’s new in Tennessee books—and at Chapter 16—on January 14, 2010

Madison Smartt Bell considers the tragedy in Haiti; Marshall Chapman’s musical is set to open Off-Broadway; debut novelist Dolen Perkins-Valdez is featured in Essence; Ann Patchett interviews Elizabeth Gilbert in The Wall Street Journal; and The Los Angeles Times really, really likes Rebecca Skloot’s face.

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Alan Lightman's Dreams

Alan Lightman—scientist, essayist, novelist, and poet—takes on the big questions

Scientists who write are no rarity, but Alan Lightman, author of Einstein’s Dreams, is virtually unique in combining a significant career as a research scientist with an equally significant career as a writer of literary fiction. Most people experience a certain tension between their logical and affective selves, between cold rationality and a more intuitive, artistic way of interpreting the world, but the Memphis native seems to have escaped that process, giving his intellect free rein in both realms. He is credited with discoveries that have wide application in astronomy and astrophysics, and he has published a dozen books, including several collections of his essays and four bestselling, highly regarded novels.

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