Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

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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William Ferris at the 2009 Southern Festival of Books

In this session from the 2009 Southern Festival of Books, William Ferris discusses his new book, Give My Poor Heart Ease, and plays portions of historic audio recordings of blues music, following Highway 61 from Mississippi. This session was recorded live at the Senate Chambers of the State Capitol in Nashville, Tennessee on October 10, 2009. For more podcasts, visit our feed at

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What’s new in Tennessee books—and at Chapter 16—on November 5, 2009

This week, Richard Bausch brings the prestigious Dayton Literary Peace Prize home to Memphis, the Vanderbilt MFA Creative Writing program earns a Top 20 ranking, Chapter 16 launches a podcast, and that’s just for starters.

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Capturing Presidents

In Nashville to accept the Nashville Public Library Literary Award, the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian talks with Chapter 16 about the past, the present, and the World Series

Last year, when Barack Obama appointed his chief Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, the media widely reported that his decision had been influenced by reading Team of Rivals, a Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Abraham Lincoln, which emphasized the way Lincoln led by drawing together his opponents. But bestselling historian Doris Kearns Goodwin has been influencing political leaders with her knowledge of the past for years. She talks with Chapter 16 about her career—and her visit to Nashville.

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Another Mother's Day

John Carter Cash writes a new tribute—this time a picture book for children—to his mother June

John Carter Cash is Grammy-winning music producer. He has worked on albums by virtually everyone in the Nashville pantheon—stars like Loretta Lynn, George Jones, Kris Kristofferson, Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, Rosanne Cash, Vince Gill, and John Prine—but he’s still best known as the only child of Johnny Cash and June Carter. In 2007, Cash published a biography of his mother, Anchored in Love: An Intimate Portrait of June Carter Cash, and earlier this year he brought out a children’s book inspired by her, as well. He talks with Chapter 16 about his mother, his wife, his children—and his next book.

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