‘Is this too dressy? is Southern Lady code for: I look fabulous and it would be in your best interest to tell me so.” That’s the playful spirit behind Helen Ellis’s story collection, American Housewife (Penguin, $24), which chronicles the adventures of females who wear lipstick and pearls and take the pumping of their salad spinners very seriously.
Women of a certain age and sensibility will identify with the author’s hilarious observations on back fat, book clubs and Molly Ringwald movies. As Alabama-raised Ellis writes, “Sixteen Candles is my Star Wars.”
Another humorous release is Michael M. Dewitt’s humorous collection, Saying Grace Over Edible Underwear & Other Southern Dilemmas (Create Space, $12.99). DeWitt’s book touches on the concept of living on Southern time, the dangers of skipping church to go hunting on the Sabbath and the scandalous embarrassment of the Southern, small-town liquor store transaction.
Rounding out the selection of light-hearted books is two-time Georgia Author of the Year recipient Raymond L. Atkins, whose latest release is South of the Etowah: The View From the Wrong Side of the River (Mercer University, $18). The Rome, Ga., author writes a series of essays exploring topics as diverse as owning an old house and hound dog to pontificating on the brilliance of William Faulkner and Elvis Presley.
AN ABUNDANCE OF AUTHOR EVENTS: If you’re looking to schmooze with writers, March is your month. The biggest author event this spring is Augusta University’s annual Writers’ Weekend, which will feature a reading and reception with four authors from Pat Conroy’s Story River Books. The lineup includes Eric Morris, the author of Jacob Jump ($19.95), which is about a ill-fated boating trip down the Savannah River from Augusta to the lighthouse at Tybee Island.
Two authors of story collections will also appear: Carla Damron, author of The Stone Necklace, ($19.99) writes about four Columbia natives, whose lives intersect through tragedy. Beaufort, S.C., resident, Maggie Schein, author of Lost Cantos of the Ouroboros Caves, ($19.99) pens stories about medicine men, monks, immortals, witches, seekers and souls.
Last is Michele Moore, author of Cigar Factory: A Novel of Charleston ($27.99), which tells the story of two entwined families in Charleston, S.C., during the World Wars. The multi-author event will be held Friday, March 11, with a reception at 6:30 p.m. and a reading at 7:30 p.m. in the Jaguar Student Activity Center Ballroom at Augusta University.
Jim Minick, the newest member of Augusta University’s Creative Writing faculty, will also be a part of the Writers’ Weekend. Minick, a poet and creative nonfiction writer, is best known for The Blueberry Years: A Memoir of Farm and Family (Thomas Dunne, $22.99). The book chronicles his triumphs and hardships as an organic blueberry farmer and was the winner of the Southern Independent Bookseller Alliance’s award for best nonfiction book in 2010. Minick’s reading will be at 4 p.m. March 12, at the Book Tavern.
ANOTHER UPCOMING LITERARY: event includes the Augusta Literary Festival from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. March 5, at the Augusta-Richmond County Public Library. The event features workshops for aspiring writers and New York Times-bestselling author C.J. Lyons will appear at 1 p.m. Visit augustaliteraryfestival.org for the full schedule.
OTHER AUTHOR EVENTS: this month in include Augusta Chronicle cartoonist Rick McKee signing copies of his book, Painting With a Broad Brush (Pediment, $39.95) at First Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. March 3 at Midtown Market, and Tom Poland, author of Georgialina (University of South Carolina Press, $18.95), who will appear at the Book Tavern at 1:30 p.m. on March 6. All of these author events are free.