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.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Pearl Cleage's Seen It All And Done The Rest

Melissa Stiers steps up as part of the GPB Southern Lit Cadre this weekend, interviewing Atlanta-based essayist, poet, journalist and novelist Pearl Cleage. Cleage ventures into new territory as an artist and American in her latest novel Seen It All and Done the Rest—that of reclaiming her citizenship. On Sunday's edition of Cover To Cover, Cleage talks about how she’s been as much an activist in her life as an author. And the activist in her, fighting for civil rights as an African American in the 1960’s and 70’s and women’s rights after, dissociated herself from being American.
But on a recent journey out West, where her new novel began to bud, she saw herself in the beauty of the land and the kindness of the people. Coupled with two Democratic potentials for president that she can identify with as a black woman, she’s in new terrain, where, in her own words, she’s "putting down the sword and making ploughshares."
Cleage explores this idea with a new heroine, Josephine Evans, an actress of the international stage who returns stateside. Through Evans and the characters she encounters (some familiar— Abbie Browning’s back and Zora too), Cleage breathes life into current events and the issues of our age that read black and white in newspaper headlines. Josephine asks questions like "What is the free woman’s role in wartime," and with the full palette of human feelings, Cleage masterfully answers. Tune in Sunday night at 8pm for this fascinating conversation between two interesting women.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Herschel Walker's Breaking Free, This Week On Cover To Cover

Frank Reiss interviews Herschel Walker on this week's edition of Cover To Cover, Sunday at 8pm. Frank posts these comments about Herschel, himself, and the upcoming interview:

Having entered the University of Georgia in the Fall of 1980, just as Herschel Walker did--with every intention of pursuing a career in sports journalism--the Bulldog legend has figured prominently in my life for quite some time. I covered his entire college career for WGST Radio and for the campus paper, The Red & Black, and have vivid memories of interviewing Herschel at weekly press conferences, after games, even jogging around the track in the Spring of 1981 on the day we learned together that President Reagan had been shot.

Walker had always struck me as mysterious, or more probably disingenuous, with his talk about wanting to be an FBI agent, never working out, writing poetry... His answers to the constant onslaught of sports writers' questions were, even by the standards set in that world, repetitive, cliche-ridden, wholly impersonal. And unbelievable.

But, of course, as a Bulldog fan, I've always loved Herschel. There's simply never been anybody like him. To have witnessed his college career seems to me to be a privilege equal to having watched Babe Ruth. An entirely transcendent figure.

So when I learned that Herschel had written a memoir disclosing that he suffered from a rare psychological disorder, I was fascinated. "Maybe that explains his odd, distant demeanor that I remembered from a quarter of a century ago," I thought. In fact, in talking to Atlanta Journal -Constitution book editor Tom Sabulis, my fascination over the idea of the book boiled over, leaking word to the paper months in advance of when Herschel's publisher had intended to put the book out. Breaking Free was originally scheduled to come out in August, right before football season. When the AJC broke the story early this year, though, Simon & Schuster rushed it into production.

The book has obviously caused quite a stir in sports circles and in the psychological community. "Is this for real?" everybody seems to be asking. Having devoured the book as soon as I got my hands on an advanced copy, I'm convinced that it is. Anybody suggesting that Herschel made this up to sell books has got to have some sort of a psychological disorder themselves. "Herschel Walker, Football Hero" would have been a much easier sell to the Bulldog nation than this work.

Nobody could have a squeakier clean image than Herschel, so the idea that he is using this as an excuse for bad behavior doesn't make sense either, because he hasn't needed to be excused for anything. The only bad behavior anyone has ever heard about from Herschel is from him, in this book.

As Herschel said in our interview, nobody can really understand the mystery of the human mind. So whether anybody else wants to agree with his and his doctor's diagnosis of Dissociative Identity Disorder seems irrelevant. Something was clearly causing Herschel to behave in ways he was scared by, and ashamed of, and the treatment he has undergone, has helped him manage that behavior better. And since the treatment included writing about his life, it has resulted in this book.

Herschel's journey inward has also revealed to him, in addition to all of the difficulties D.I.D. has caused, that the way his mind works has also been instrumental in making him the remarkably accomplished person he is.

After reading the book, after spending time with him at his Atlanta book signing, and especially after interviewing him for Cover To Cover. I admire Herschel Walker as a man as much as I ever have as an athlete. His willingness to explore such a controversial topic strikes me as truly heroic.

Our conversation covered a lot of ground, most intriguingly for me his love of literature and his student experiences at UGA. Outside the studio, Herschel talked even more excitedly about his business ventures. This was not the robotic-sounding athlete with the canned answers I've heard for all these years--and whom you can still hear in most of his interviews; this is a deep-thinking, phenomenally-driven, complex man whose remarkable mind and spirit is likely to lead him down many more interesting paths in the future. I, for one, will be watching--and reading--with great interest.

-Frank Reiss

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Dr. Stan Deaton Interviews John Ferling About The American Revolution This Sunday on Cover To Cover

Dr. Stan Deaton, Vice-President for Programs and Scholarship for the Savannah-based Georgia Historical Society, takes on the rigors of the GPB Southern Lit Cadre, debuting Sunday night at 8pm with his interview of West Georgia University Professor Dr. John Ferling about his latest book Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence, published by Oxford University Press.

I visited with Stan about the book and why the American Revolution is still important for all of us to think about from time to time.

GPB: Why did you choose to talk with Ferling about this book?

Deaton: Almost A Miracle is the best single-volume military history of the war now available. Penetrating analysis and graceful prose make this must reading for anyone who seeks to understand that crucial event in American history.

Stan Deaton's Top 9 Reasons for Studying the American Revolution:

1. The American Revolution created a form of govt. that was unique on the world's stage--republicanism: representative government in which the people are sovereign and they in turn give limited powers to the govt., which are enumerated in written constitutions and not dependent on the arbitrary power of an individual; govt. is there to serve the people, not the other way around.

2. The American Revolution was led and secured by the most extraordinary group of Americans who ever lived: Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Franklin. They were smart, they were well-read, they were learned, and most importantly they were committed to Enlightenment principles of a secular society based on political and economic liberalism and humanitarian reform.

3. The American Revolution separated Church and State--again, this is unique. Religion in the U.S. would flourish because it would be pluralistic and voluntary, rather than state-supported & monolithic

4. The American Revolution ensured that American life is founded on civil liberties--committed to preserving basic freedoms, like freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of association, and freedom of worship

5. The Revolutionary Generation first grappled with many of the enduring problems we still deal with--race in American society (what is an "inalienable right"?); the proper role of govt. in our lives; the separation of church and state; the growth of party politics; issues of liberty vs. security; states rights v. centralized power; growth of the military in a free society.

6. The American Revolution set in motion the modern egalitarian social and political movements of the 19th and 20th centuries--the abolitionist movements, the women's movement, democratic revolutions, and the civil rights movement.

7. The American Revolution created both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution--two documents that were and are unique in the world and are worth studying all by themselves.

8. The American Revolution established the precedent that Americans have peaceful elections and that they give up power peacefully, exemplified most dramatically by Washington's voluntarily stepping down after two terms and the shift in power from one party to another in the Election of 1800.

9. Finally, the American Revolution established the U.S. as a nation founded on ideas, not ethnicity, not culture, or religion, as so many European, Middle Eastern, and Asian countries would be and are.

Tune in Sunday night at 8pm on Cover To Cover for the conversation between Deaton and John Ferling.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Jesse Freeman Interviews David Fulmer

Join us on Sunday, May 11 at 8:00pm as Cover To Cover introduces a new member of our Southern Lit Cadre, Jesse Freeman. Jesse will be chatting with Atlanta-based noir-culture writer David Fulmer about his most recent novels The Dying Crapshooter's Blues and The Blue Door. The first of these takes place in Atlanta in the 1920's and includes blues legend Blind Willie McTell. Cover To Cover will feature McTell's song of the same name as part of Sunday's show.

Jesse Freeman grew up in Madison, Georgia, where he wrote for the hometown weekly, The Madisonian. He received a B. A. in English from Georgia State University. Jesse is a freelance journalist and video producer in the Atlanta area. He is a GPB TV correspondent for Lawmakers and Prep Sports Plus. His documentary work on the late author Raymond Andrews landed him a speaking appearance at the 19th Annual Southern Writers’ Symposium in Fayetteville, North Carolina. He has also been nominated for a Magazine Association of the Southeast’s GAMMA Award for an article he authored on Andrews.

I interviewed Jesse for the Cover To Cover Blog so that you could get a better idea of where he is coming from

CTC: What is it you like about Southern Literature?

Jesse Freeman: I love the attention to character. That's the hallmark of Southern literature, I think...that it is character-driven. Bocaccio begins his Decameron, "Human, it is..." and I think Southern writers write that way, with a rich understanding of what it is to be human.

As far as contemporary Southern writers, I really like Richard Bausch. His debut novel, Real Presence, which I think was published in 1981, is a wonderful novel and it encapsulates the best of what I just mentioned about Southern writing. He has some personal shortcomings that have been talked about lately, but he has done as much as anyone to promote young Southern writers. I interviewed Bausch once and he told me a story about how thrilled he was to be on a flight with Bob Dylan. I thought to myself how thrilled I was to be having a conversation with Richard Bausch.

My favorite Southern writer of all time is Faulkner. That doesn't put me out on a limb, but what are you gonna do? His writing is without parallel. Henry James, James Joyce, Naqib Mahfooz--they're all great, but Faulkner resonates like no other. He demands a tremendous investment from the reader, but pays back in great dividends.

CTC: What do you like about David Fulmer, who you are talking with on Sunday about his two most recent novels?

Jesse Freeman: What I like about Fulmer's writing is partly due to the fact that it is in contrast to the Southern tradition. His characters are good enough, but they're not subtle and masterful. Rather, it is the plot that drives his novels. This sets him apart. Plot is often lost on Southern writers. It's not lost with Fulmer. Also, I love that he seems to take great joy in writing. He loves music and cars and drinking and it seems he loves to write about things. He takes it upon himself to mention these things, though it is sometimes unnecessary and sometimes redundant. He is a guy's guy. He has a lot of female fans, but so does Springsteen. Fulmer loves to write about the blues and jazz and big cars and drinking liquor. I enjoy reading someone who seems to enjoy writing.

We hope you enjoy Jesse's interview with David Fulmer on Sunday's edition of Cover To Cover. Questions or comments to

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Cover To Cover Off May 4, Great Lineup Coming

Cover To Cover is taking Sunday, May 4 off to make room for the live Big Band Jump Jubilee, which pushes The Infinite Mind into the 8pm hour. But don't fret, GPB literature fans, the Southern Lit Cadre will be back starting next Sunday with a series of entertaining and informative conversations with writers we know you will enjoy.

On May 11, Jesse Freeman interviews novelist David Fulmer about his most recent two novels, including The Dying Crapshooter's Blues, which takes place in Atlanta in the 1920's and features legendary bluesman Blind Willie McTell as a character. Upcoming interviews will include Dr. Stan Deaton's debut as a member of the cadre with his interview with historian John Ferling and his book about the American Revolution, Almost A Miracle. Jeff Calder will be talking with Milledgeville-born poet Sean Hill about his new collection Blood Ties and Brown Liquor.

Melissa Stiers will be talking with Pearl Cleage about her new novel Seen It All And Done The Rest, and Frank Reiss will be talking with Georgia Bulldog legend Herschel Walker about his new memoir Breaking Free.

So enjoy The Infinite Mind Sunday night, but know that Cover To Cover will return at 8pm on Sunday, May 11. If you have questions or comments for Cover To Cover, just email us at