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, June 27, 2008

Melissa Stiers Digs Into Her Story Sunday at 8pm on Cover To Cover

We hear from the Southern Lit Cadre's distaff side on this week's show. Here's what Melissa Stiers offers about her interview airing Sunday:

Millions of women have paved the way for the reality of media mogul Oprah Winfrey or even the possibility that Hillary Clinton could have been president. On this weekend's Cover To Cover we feature a new book called Her Story that gathers nearly a thousand of American women and puts them on an illustrative timeline. Host Melissa Stiers speaks to the authors Jill Tietjen and Charlotte Waisman to discuss how and who they decided to highlight for the contributions American women have made to the country and to the world.

Listen to Abigail Adam’s saucy letter to her husband as he helped form the American government, remember the peaceful mission of Sacagawea and her child, and hear how Madam C. J. Walker uplifted the lives of thousands of African-American women. Tune in for inspiring stories of many women obscured in the annals of history ‘til now. That's Sunday night at 8pm on Cover To Cover, to be followed by What's The Word from the Modern Language Association.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Prioleau Alexander's You Want Fries With That?: A White-Collar Burnout Experiences Life at Minimum Wage

Southern Cadre Member Frank Reiss checks in with his thoughts on this week's edition of Cover To Cover--

I meet a lot of first-time authors in my line of work. Few of them give me a greater sense of confidence about their imminent success than Prioleau (pronounced Pray-Lo) Alexander. The former marine and former advertising executive carries himself with unmistakable good humor and self-assurance. His book, You Want Fries With That?: A White-Collar Burnout Experiences Life at Minimum Wage conveys that good humor in abundance. Each chapter details his experiences working such jobs as delivering pizzas, scooping ice cream and serving fast food.

The book shows the author's true understanding not just of finding humor in common situations but, more impressively, conveying it deftly in well-wrought prose. Alexander is an Auburn grad and a native of Charleston, S.C.--where he went to high school with a pretty fair humorist named Stephen Colbert--and he is already at work on another humorous book recounting the process of getting published. The working title: They Don't Call It Submission for Nothing.

Our conversation on Cover To Cover Sunday night at 8pm treads the dangerous ground of trying to examine just how he writes such hilarious sentences, and he revealed himself to be very serious about the craft of being funny. Talking to Prioleau Alexander was a pleasure. Reading his book was a hoot. Here's betting that he'll soon be a well-enough-known southern humorist that his name won't seem so hard to pronounce.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Jim Braziel's Birmingham, 35 Miles On Cover To Cover Sunday at 8pm

Jesse Freeman talks with Wilcox, County Georgia-born writer Jim Braziel on Sunday about Braziel's debut novel Birmingham, 35 Miles. The dystopian novel is set in the future, in an Alabama beset by the collapse of the environment. Here's what Jesse had to say about Braziel and the book--

Jim Braziel has dedicated his debut novel, Birmingham, 35 Miles, to his childhood friend, Ray Wiggins. It’s no coincidence that the novel’s central character, Mathew Harrison, also has a best friend named Ray, but I was a little taken aback when I asked Braziel about the connection. You see, Ray Wiggins committed suicide as a young adult and Braziel is still palpably unsettled by the loss some twenty years later. For whatever solace it may have given him, Jim Braziel has wrought a particularly animate character in the fictional Ray.

In fact, Jim Braziel breathes a good measure of life into most of his characters, almost as if they’re golems shaped from the red clay soil middle and lower Alabama, where this novel is set.

But, though the place may be familiar, readers may not recognize the society that inhabits it. Birmingham, 35 Miles, is set between the years 2014 and 2044 in the Southeastern Desert, a waste-land left in the wake of an ecological disaster. The remnants of the United States government rides rough-shot over the nomadic survivors with tyrannical resolve and licensing processes for almost every aspect of life. But the real conflict of this novel is not between rebels and enforcers, it is between the conflicted impulses of Mathew, who seems to be a prisoner of his own inertia more than anything else. This is real, character driven-fiction. It’s science fictional but it isn’t Science Fiction.

This is Jim Braziel’s first interview and I think you’ll enjoy his fresh perspective on being published. Some writers never stop complaining about the publishing process (especially promotions!) but Braziel is not one of these. He’s enjoying the ride, and I think you’ll enjoy, Birmingham, 35 Miles.--Jesse Freeman

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Georgia Poet Sean Hill's Blood Ties & Brown Liquor, Sunday on Cover To Cover

GPB Southern Lit Cadre Poetry Major Domo Jeff Calder reports in on this week's program---

The poet Sean Hill grew up in Milledgeville, Georgia, the setting for his impressive debut collection Blood Ties & Brown Liquor. In forty or so poems he makes up a history of the Wright family who lived in the small town’s African-American community over several generations. It is a dusty narrative dominated by the color red. Titles like “A Negro Teacher’s Bible”, “Joe Chappel’s Foot Long Bottom Blues 1952”, and “The State House Aflame” give a feel for the action stirring on the ground. The seam of “Lineaments Through the Line of Seasons” bursts open with the unexpected moment:

…bare blind nestlings gape and caterpillars
condense, clouding where plum branches fork
and pollen gilds puddles in ribbons after rain
and the dirt dauber shapes her nest from wet clay—
Deep red before it dries, this dirt sunsets distill.

Sean Hill's method is painstaking and artful, as though he were using his fingers to bend shafts of genealogy around a trellis of time and memory. It took three years to put together a construction so authentic one might assume it to be a straightforward rendering of his long family story. There may be some slight resemblance to his Milledgeville relatives, who secretly leaf through the book to find themselves, but the soft-spoken Georgia native is quick to assure me that Blood Ties is largely the work of his imagination.
The book’s cover is a detail from McIntosh Street, a painting by Frank Stanley Herring (1894-1966) that Sean first noticed in a Milledgeville funeral home when his father sent him there on an errand.

In the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on June 1, 2008, Amber Dermont wrote that Blood Ties & Brown Liquor “is certain to mark Hill's emergence as a major new voice in American poetry."

--Jeff Calder

You can hear Jeff and Sean Hill's conversation Sunday at 8:00pm on Cover To Cover, right after The Infinite Mind on GPB Radio.