November 25, 2022

Writers reveal South in “Graceland, at Last”, “Memphis”

The South cannot be captured with the clumsy strokes of a pencil. Instead, only fine, well-organized detail can vividly render the region in all its richness and depth. No one knows better than Margaret Renklauthor of “Graceland, at Last: Notes on the Hope and Sorrow of the American South”, which is a collection of essays pondering everything from a skink sunbathing in the wilderness of his Nashville backyard to a visit to the faded glamor of Elvis’ Graceland.

Renkl, a columnist for The New York Times, calls her book a “patchwork…made of mismatched pieces,” which is an apt description. Readers will meet teenagers organizing a Black Lives Matter march, parishioners who shelter the homeless, an urban shepherd whose sheep eat invasive plants, and many more. Reading Renkl’s essays is like tasting bites of a bountiful and diverse feast; each piece further illuminates the distinctive flavor of the South.

By the Book – March: Peach State authors offer a bushel of spring outings

By the Book – February: Journalists capture UGA’s winning season in books perfect for Bulldogs fans

THERE’S ONLY something about a house with a porch, especially one that smells of honeysuckle and sits under the shade of a plum tree, providing a cool place for sleeping cats.

"Memphis," by Tara M. Stringfellow

For Joan, 10 years old, the protagonist of the novel “Memphis” the porch of his mother’s ancestral home represents a refuge from his father’s wrath. It is also a house with a tragic history. Joan’s grandfather built the house in the historic black neighborhood of Douglass, only to be lynched days later.

But for Joan, the porch, the house, and the city of Memphis serve as a window into the history of the women in her family. The young girl is a budding painter and over the years, she not only captures the images of her subjects on canvas, but she also learns their secrets which nuance her evolution as an artist.

“Memphis” is Tara M. StringfellowThe first novel of which begins in 1995 but which oscillates over seventy years. Yet despite its ambitious time coverage, it still retains the intimacy of a summer conversation on a swing. It’s also a captivating exploration of the strengths of female bonds and a tender love letter to Memphis, the author’s hometown.

PRINCESS MARGARET threw risky beach shots at it. Raquel Welch scoured its sandy shores and Mick Jagger built a villa overlooking its cerulean waters. Now Winston Salem author Sarah McCoy wrote a novel about this exclusive celebrity enclave called “Musquito Island.”

"Mustique Island," by Sarah McCoy

It’s January 1972 and Willy May, a former beauty queen from Texas, seeks out Mustique for her estrangement and hopes the serene setting will help mend her fractured relationship with her two daughters. Unfortunately, Mustique’s perpetually sunny days mask its dark, decadent side, and Willy is trapped in non-stop partying with the island’s royal residents, rock stars, and other notables. It’s not the ideal environment for healing family bonds, but beyond the rhythm of calypso, skinny dips, and scalloped fruit libations, there’s hope for growth and reconciliation. If you’re looking forward to a summer of beach books, ‘Mustique Island’ is the perfect tropical treat to whet your appetite.

Local book news

Karen White, Beatriz Williams and Lauren Willig wrote

If, like me, you’re mourning the end of the HBO series ‘The Gilded Age’ season, I have good news: Atlanta author Karen White in the same way Beatrice Williams and Lauren Willig have written “The Lost Summers of Newport” a historical mystery spanning over a century of the once-wealthy Sprague family residing in an extravagant Golden Age home in Newport, Rhode Island. The authors will speak at Augusta Country Club on May 25 beginning at 11:30 a.m. The event is organized by The Book Tavern. Ticket information is available by calling the bookstore at (706) 826-1940.

"For those who dream" by Benjamin Carroll

“For Those Who Dream” is a picture book by the author of Augusta Benjamin Carroll. Carroll, a father of three, wrote the book in hopes of encouraging and challenging children to turn their dreams into reality.

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