Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

Disappointed Idealist

Madison Smartt Bell discusses the life and work of novelist Robert Stone

In the preface to Child of Light, his biography of novelist Robert Stone, Madison Smartt Bell describes Stone as a man who “confronted the world with the bright, acidic irony of an extraordinarily perceptive, bitterly disappointed idealist.” It’s a vivid and precise summary of the complex artist who emerges in this comprehensive book. 

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Maybe Nothing, Maybe Wolves

YA author Court Stevens ratchets up the suspense in The June Boys

“Someone is stealing Tennessee’s boys. Report suspicious behavior.” Ominous messages on local billboards set the scene in Court Stevens’ latest young adult mystery, The June Boys. 

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Light in Their Darkest Hour

Erik Larson brings Churchill and the Blitz to life

In The Splendid and the Vile, bestselling author Erik Larson explains how Winston Churchill inspired the British people to keep fighting through the dark days when Britain stood alone against the Nazis. 

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Down From the Mountain

How Hancock County embraced its Melungeon secret

In Beyond the Sunset: The Melungeon Outdoor Drama, 1969-1976, Wayne Winkler explores how Tennessee’s poorest county turned to an unlikely source for economic revival: an outdoor drama about the region’s Melungeon heritage. The play ran for just five seasons but changed the county’s view of its mixed-race neighbors forever.

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The Nation’s Oldest Student

Rita Lorraine Hubbard shares the remarkable life of Mary Walker, who learned to read at age 116

Author Rita Lorraine Hubbard reminds young readers that they’re “never too old to learn” by telling the extraordinary life story of Chattanooga’s beloved Mary Walker in The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read, illustrated by Oge Mora.

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