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, April 22, 2009

Voices From the Past

In his latest interview, Frank Reiss sits down with Kathryn Stockett to talk about her latest novel. He gives us this preview.

Kathryn Stockett's new book The Help was described in its New York Times review as a "soon to be wildly popular novel." Well, happily for the self-effacing, mild-mannered Atlanta resident, the paper of record knows what they're talking about. Earlier this year the debut work made it to Number 15 on the Times' bestseller list.

The book was a long time in the works, and as Stockett tells us in our Cover to Cover interview, it was rejected over 40 times before finding its way to the desk of Putnam's new star editor, Amy Einhorn.

The novel is the story of Skeeter Phelan, who, like Stockett is a native of Jackson, Mississippi. Skeeter, a white daughter of priviledge, sets out to tell the stories of the town's black domestic workers, whose lives, in 1960s Mississippi, were for the most part not even considered by the families who employed them.

Stockett's inspiration for writing the book was the very voice of the black woman who largely raised her, and in her book, she channels that voice as well as several others in creating not only the novel's dialogue, but also the "book within a book," which Skeeter manages to publish as a kind of a field study.

The Help is resonating with a lot of readers who probably recognize voices in their past in Stockett's work. In Stockett's own voice, I think listener's will her a private, shy and somewhat vulnerable young woman who has now exposed a bit of herself in this work of fiction. It is not autobiographical, but it reveals something very personal to her: a deep love for the woman who raised her.

Tune in this Sunday night at 8 to hear the interview.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

A Homecoming of Sorts for a Georgia Native

Myriam Farrero, the newest member of our Cover to Cover team, just sent in this preview of her upcoming show with author Leslie Walker Williams. Tune in this Sunday to hear the interview, about which Myriam writes:

In 2009, the debut novel of Savannah native Leslie Walker Williams received the Peter Taylor Prize and the Morris Hackney Literary Award.

The Prudent Mariner is set on the Georgia coast in the 1960’s.

It’s a story of a young girl’s journey into the past secrets of her family, or truths buried underground and the proximity of a distant, shameful past.

Nine year old Ridley Cross discovers disturbing photographs of a lynching among her family’s possession. The Prudent Mariner unfolds through Ridley’s eyes as she uncovers her grandmother’s connection to the horrific past events.

Leslie Walker Williams dives headfirst into the complexities of a southern town haunted by its violent and horrific past, and the complex relationships of a family that reflects this past.

Williams was raised in Savannah, Georgia and has done extensive archival research on lynchings. It was a visit to the Detroit Museum of African American History which inspired her to write The Prudent Mariner.

A resident of Vancouver, Canada, her short stories have been published in numerous publications including The Iowa Review, The Madison Review, Harvard Review and American Fiction.

Her collection, Taxidermy, was a finalist for the Flannery O’Connor Award.

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Happy Birthday, Eudora!

Some authors manage to exist on the periphery for all of us; I mean we know their name and know that they are important, but we haven’t quite gotten around to actually reading their work. For me, Eudora Welty has been one such author for quite a while now. Thankfully, that Dark Age is over.

Welty is a masterful writer perhaps best known for her short stories “A Worn Path” and Why I Live at the P.O.” She was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1973 for the short meditative novel, The Optimist’s Daughter, which came late in her career.

I mentioned Dr. Pearl McHaney in this blog before, but to refresh, she is a Welty scholar and professor at Georgia State University. Dr. McHaney recently gave a series of free public lectures at the Decatur Library, and she joins us this Sunday on Cover to Cover to talk about Welty. Dr. McHaney visited with Welty a few times at her home in Jackson, and has edited several volumes of Welty’s fiction, as well as public letters and literary criticism from the Belle of Belhaven.

Fresh of the presses at the University Press of Mississippi come two new edited volumes, Occasions: Selected Writings and Eudora Welty as Photographer. Both books are edited by Dr. McHaney, and the titles pretty well sum up the contents. Welty was not a WPA photographer (though she wanted to be), but her photographic work is very much identified with those proletariat pictures of the dusty south (and dusty New York). Occasions is a sizeable collection for Welty enthusiasts who want to delve deeper into the life of the woman who is perhaps as mysterious as she was charming.

We welcome Dr. McHaney to the show this Sunday, April 12 on the eve of what would be Welty’s 100th birthday. We talk about Dr. McHaney’s meetings with her beloved subject, the author’s strident support of the artists she loved, and of course, Welty’s inimitable writing.

And for those of you Welty fans near the Atlanta area, Dr. McHaney will dish the details on a birthday party downtown. It will be Monday evening at the Rialto on the campus of GSU and will feature dramatic readings from Tom Key and Brenda Bynum as well as champagne, coconut cake and the launch of The Eudora Welty Review, an annual publication that Dr. McHaney will edit. The event begins at 6 PM, but if you can make it down to GSU by 4:30, you can hear a free lecture by Dr. Daniele Pitavy-Souques, Profesor Emerita, at the University of Burgundy.

Hope to see you there!

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