Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

The $254,500 Typewriter

What’s new in Tennessee books—and at Chapter 16—on December 10, 2009

After Cormac McCarthy’s trusty Olivetti manual portable typewriter—on which he had written, by his own estimate, some five million words—stopped being quite so trusty after fifty years, he put it up for auction. Expected by Christie’s to bring in between $15,000 and $20,000 to benefit the Santa Fe institute, a nonprofit interdisciplinary scientific research organization where McCarthy keeps an office, the typewriter actually sold last Friday for more than ten times that amount. An anonymous patron bought the machine for $254,500.

Don’t expect to find McCarthy blogging now that his Olivetti is gone, however. John Miller, a friend and colleague at the Institute, found McCarthy an exact duplicate of the typewriter online, and it was in pristine working condition. He paid eleven dollars for it.

Columbia’s Nancy French, whose memoir, A Red State of Mind: How a Catfish Queen Reject Became a Liberty Belle, was published in 2006, is considerably more digital-friendly. She’s the editor of a new e-zine, SixSeeds, which offers a “family-focused look at culture, sports and politics” in the form of both smart original content (including, in this week’s issue, a review of the film version of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road) and links to other stories around the web that might appeal to parents. French is writing her own next book jointly with her husband, David, a Harvard-educated attorney who recently returned from Iraq, where he served with the U.S. Army Reserve. It is tentatively titled Home and Away: A Story of Love in a Time of War, and will be published next fall by Hachette.

Lest it seem that Chapter 16 has become the “All McCarthy All the Time” channel, we’re running a nice range of non-apocalyptic offerings this week, too. Look for interviews with mega-bestselling novelists Sherrilyn Kenyon, whom Publisher’s Weekly calls “the reigning queen of the wildly successful paranormal scene,” and Donna VanLiere, author The Christmas Secret, among other Christmas-themed novels that Lifetime Television has turned into movies. Don’t miss our reviews of Brian Pera’s Life As We Show It, a collection of essays about film, and When Autumn Leaves, a charming debut novel by hit songwriter Amy S. Foster. And be sure to open our poetry section to read “Mole,” a poem by Wyatt Prunty that’s perfect for this time of year, when we’re all waiting for color to return.