Cover To Cover is the anchor program for GPB’s literary coverage. Cover To Cover features a collection of distinctive Southern voices interviewing Georgia writers, Southern writers, and writers dealing with the South. The GPB Southern Lit Cadre will provide you with a varied, weekly glimpse at fiction, non-fiction, history, poetry, and even the occasional ‘old school’ nod to Flannery O’Connor or William Faulkner.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Voice for the Voiceless

On assignment in China with her husband and family in 2003, Kay Bratt took up the cause of China’s forgotten children. Kay spent four years volunteering in a Chinese orphanage. Her memoir: Silent Tears – A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage is based on the diary she kept while there. It offers a painful and often bleak account of her daily struggle to care for the children she came to love and the fight to change their conditions.

Now back in America, Kay Bratt continues her work with China’s orphans, raising awareness wherever she goes. She was honored with the Chinese 2006 Pride of the City award for her humanitarian work. She is the founder of the Mifan Mommy Club – an online organization that supplies rice to children in Chinese orphanages, and she is an active volunteer with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates.)

Kay Bratt joins us for Cover to Cover this Sunday at 8pm on GPB.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The South's Own Gangster

George "Machine Gun" Kelly is a name from the heyday of the American gangster era as familiar as "Baby Face" Nelson, Bonnie & Clyde, "Ma" Barker and many other colorful outlaws, but the details of his life and crimes are far less well-known.

Mississippi author Ace Atkins, who has carved out a distinctive niche for himself with a number of historical crime novels, decided it was time to change that fact. Thus, Kelly's exploits are the subject of Atkins latest: Infamous.

As Atkins explains in his Cover to Cover interview, the story of "Machine Gun" Kelly can't be told without focusing equally on his wife, Katherine. Kelly, unique among the famous gangters, was a native of the South and raised in relative priviledge. He was a good looking, somewhat lazy character, content being a minor player in various criminal endeavors until the beautiful, ambitious Katherine came into his life.

Together they pulled off the kidnapping of one of the wealthiest oilmen in the country. The crime gave Katherine the kind of notoriety she sought but ultimately led to the couple's capture, all of which Atkins describes in Infamous with flourish and detail.

As unlikely a figure for a famed outlaw as Kelly was, Atkins has taken an equally distinctive path into the world of popular fiction. He starred on Auburn University's undefeated football team of 1993 before beginning a career as an award-winning newspaper reporter in Florida. Eventually, his fascination with crime led to the popular series of mystery novels featuring former football star/blues historian Nick Travers.

is Atkins' fourth historically based crime novel. Altogether his work has led no less an expert than bestselling novelist Michael Connelly to call Atkins “one of the best crime writers at work today."

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Professor Tells His Story

It’s quite possible we’ve never had a guest on Cover to Cover quite as comfortable in the talk studio as this week’s guest, longtime Atlanta Braves broadcaster Pete Van Wieren. In 2008, Pete retired from a distinguished career of 33 years with Atlanta’s Major League Baseball club. His new memoir, Of Mikes and Men, is chock full of anecdotes about the club and insights into the mind of the team’s scholarly voice.

Obviously, the natural appeal here is to Braves’ fans, of which there should be no shortage. The team’s radio network is reportedly the largest radio network of any sports franchise in the United States, and Van Wieren and his longtime broadcast partner, Skip Carey, hold a special place in the hearts of many of those fans.

Van Wieren talks about Caray’s declining health and how it affected his work in his final broadcasts before he passed away suddenly in 2008. He also talks about his early days knocking around with a rock band at Cornell University, the lean years broadcasting minor league games, the elation when he got the call to Atlanta, the sudden death of baseball’s first African-American general manager, hustling out of downtown Los Angeles during the Rodney King riots, Ted Turner’s one-game stint in the dugout as manager, and much more.

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Poetry Reading in the Decatur Cemetary this Wednesday

The Dead Poets Society of America and Georgia plan to have a poetry reading in the Decatur Cemetery on Wednesday, May 12 at 2 p.m. The reading is part of a nationwide 2010 tour and will be the 1st historic Georgia Dead Poets event. The event will take place at the gravesite of Thomas Holley Chivers in the old historic section off Commerce Avenue. Thomas Holley Chivers, October 18, 1809 – December 18, 1858, was an American doctor-turned-poet from Georgia. He is best known for his friendship with Edgar Allan Poe and his controversial defense of the poet after his death. The event includes readings, poets, musicians and actors. On hand will be SC Poet Laureate Marjorie Wentworth, local actor Rob Constantine and others. Freeport, Maine amateur poet Walter Skold founded the Dead Poets Society of America, and he is on a 20-event 2010 Dead Poets Grand Tour with stops at graves of American bards. For more information go here.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Will Jesus Buy Me a Double Wide?

A title that was originally intended as a joke sold the book before it was even written. Karen Spears Zacharias recently published this book - her fourth - titled: Will Jesus Buy Me a Double Wide. She is a journalist and author of 3 other non-fiction books and has won dozens of writing awards.

Karen traveled the country collecting stories of ordinary and not so ordinary folk. Each chapter anonymously titled: The Preacher, The Evangelist, The Sister, The Marine. Karen investigates what role God and money play in people's lives. The book is filled with humor and also asks some incredibly tough questions like: What does it mean to be blessed by God? And Karen isn't afraid to give the answers.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Hold Up the Sky

In Patricia Sprinkle’s latest novel, Hold Up the Sky, she takes a temporary hiatus from crime fiction to tell the story of four women, devastated but ultimately strengthened and united by the hardships that beset them.

Mamie is facing an overwhelming secret. Margaret has lost her home. Billie can no longer care for her disabled daughter alone. And Maria is living with an untenable choice. When these four women come together to live on a drought-stricken Georgia farm, they must open their hearts, and share their burdens, before they can find the bounty that lies hidden in tough times, and once again see the glorious pattern of meaning in their lives.

Lisa Wingate, author of The Summer Kitchen calls this "A heartfelt story of the women who catch us when we fall-the sisters and friends who hold up the sky and show us who we were meant to be," and Patti Callahan Henry, national bestselling author of Driftwood Summer says, "Patricia Sprinkle takes us deep into the thoughts and feelings of four women who realize the only way to true strength is to share their faith, their hearts and each other's lives.”

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Fireworks Over Toccoa

After a successful career writing for television ("Dawson's Creek", et al) in Hollywood, Atlanta native Jeffrey Stepakoff is back home and embarking on a second career as a novelist. His previous work prepared him well, for his debut, Fireworks Over Toccoa, has all the earmarks of a popular novel but also seems destined to be a big or small screen drama.

The novel is the story of a young bride, Lily, whose husband leaves almost immediately after they're wed, to fight in World War II. On the eve of his return, she meets an alluring young man, a manufacturer of of fireworks (indeed), and thus Lily is forced to choose between her prior commitment and unmistakable passions of the heart. Setting his novel in the North Georgia town of Toccoa, which Stepakoff knows well, the one-time screen writer proves to be a master not just of creating characters and a dramatic story but also at evoking a strong sense of place. 1940s Toccoa comes alive as fully as any character in the book, and the present-day town, not surprisingly, is fully embracing the novel, anticipating a response from readers to Toccoa like Savannah experienced with Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

In addition to his multi-faceted writing talents, Stepakoff is a professor at Kennesaw State University, and our interview reveals him to be fully immersed in and an enthusiastic instructor on the craft of story telling. Though he already has two decades of professional recognition and accomplishment under his belt, with the new direction his writing career is taking, Jeffrey Stepakoff seems primed, with Fireworks Over Toccoa, to emerge as a major author of popular Southern fiction.

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