Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

Not Far from the Tree

Cash biographer Michael Streissguth follows Rosanne as she records a cathartic album

In 1973, Johnny Cash gave his daughter Rosanne a list of 100 songs, many from the Southern tradition, that he thought a young musician was obligated to know. Always Been There tells the inside story of the album that, more than thirty-five years later, she finally made from “the list.” Based on interviews conducted in the studio, at home in New York City, and on tour in Europe, Always Been There chronicles the both the making of an iconic album and the remarkable career of one of popular music’s most gifted singer-songwriters.

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Skloot & Peelle, Plus Poetry

What’s new in Tennessee books—and at Chapter 16—on November 12, 2009

This week, Memphis writer Rebecca Skloot lands on the cover of Publisher’s Weekly, Nashville writer Lydia Peelle travels to Brooklyn to be honored at the National Book Association’s “5 Under 35” celebration, and Chapter 16 introduces its poetry collection.

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A Political Awakening

D’Army Bailey recounts his student days of protest and outrage

D’Army Bailey has embraced many roles in public life. He’s been an activist, a politician, and a distinguished jurist, serving on the Circuit Court bench in Memphis since 1990. He was instrumental in the founding of the National Civil Rights Museum, and he’s also done a few turns as an actor, appearing in films like How Stella Got Her Groove Back and The People v. Larry Flynt. No doubt he has many stories to tell, but in The Education of a Black Radical: A Southern Civil Rights Activist’s Journey 1959-1964, he confines his memoir to one narrow segment of history: his college years, when he evolved from a very bright, conventional young man to a civil-rights firebrand who was expelled from his all-black school for leading student protests.

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Country's First Elvis

Barry Mazor discusses the musical reach and influence of American icon Jimmie Rodgers

Jimmie Rodgers became known as “The Father of Country Music,” but as Barry Mazor illustrates in his new book, Meeting Jimmie Rodgers, Rodgers was much more than a musical ancestor of The Outlaws. Though his last recording took place over 80 years ago, his influence remains pervasive in popular music and culture. Mazor goes beyond Rodgers’s biography to explain how he changed not just country music but the landscape of popular music as a whole. For Mazor, Jimmie Rodgers isn’t a relic of music history; he’s a modern icon.

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To Justify the Ways of God to Man, 21st-Century Style

William Paul Young discusses the phenomenal success of his bestseller, The Shack

In 2005, William Paul Young was living in a tiny rented house with his wife and six children and working as a “general manager, janitor and inside sales guy” for a friend’s small business. Then he wrote a novel about a man who falls into despair after his young daughter disappears, only to meet God himself—or herself, actually—in the shack where the child was murdered. Life for Young has not been the same. The Shack is now a mega-bestseller, with over 10 million copies in print. On The New York Times list for seventy-six consecutive weeks—forty-nine of them in the number-one slot—the book has been translated into thirty-four languages, selling more than a million copies in Brazil alone. In advance of his Nashville appearance on November 14, Young recently answered a few questions from Chapter 16 about his book.

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Out of Carolina—But Always Of It

Once a working-class kid, always a working-class kid, according to novelist Dorothy Allison—which explains why she works so hard to make each word absolutely right

Dorothy Allison is an unrelenting realist, steeped in the working-class South. She began her career with the short-story collection Trash (1988), published by the feminist and lesbian press Firebrand Books. Her first novel, Bastard out of Carolina (1992), was a finalist for the National Book Award and continues to be widely read and championed today. Since then she has written a book of essays, Skin: Talking about Sex, Class and Literature (1994); a meditation on storytelling, Two or Three Things I Know for Sure (1995); and a second novel, Cavedweller (1998). Each has continued to attract critical success and a large cadre of fans who appreciate her craft and her willingness to write about characters on the margins.

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