A number of notable authors have emerged out of the blue mist of the Appalachian mountains: Ron Rash, Sharyn McCrumb and Charles Fraizer. This year’s Sand Hills Writers Series celebrates the work of two other authors from that storied region:
Darnell Arnoult, a poet and novelist, gained recognition for her debut novel, Sufficient Grace, which is about a small-town Southern woman’s descent into schizophrenia. Gracie Hollaman listens to the voices in her head telling her to paint Jesus on three walls of her house. Then she tosses her wedding ring, gets in her car and drives away, leaving behind her husband and daughter to wonder what has become of her. Eventually she crosses paths with Mama Toot, an elderly black woman who helps her find redemption.
Arnoult’s most recent work is the poetry collection, Galaxie Wagon, which trains a shrewd eye on the aging process. She writes in her poem Harmonic Mean, “Time still feels like a tool in your hand to shape the world. You don’t admit time is shaping you.”
Crystal Wilkinson knows Appalachia. The author hails from the hollers of rural Kentucky and spent her childhood roaming its bramble-choked knobs and hills. She first came to prominence with her poetry collection Blackberries, Blackberries. Her latest work is the novel, Birds of Opulence, in which she chronicles the memories, illegitimate children and mental illnesses of several generations of women living in a black township in Kentucky.
Wilkinson brings the town of Opulence to life, conjuring a lush sensory world of cooling caramel cakes, whip-poor-will serenades and the weight of a newborn in a mother’s arms.
Both of these authors will be reading and discussing their work at 2:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 3, on the Summerville campus of Augusta University in the Jaguar Student Activity Center. Admission is free and open to all.
MAYBE YOU’VE NODDED with recognition at his irreverent musings on the back page of Southern Living, or maybe your bookshelf contains a dog-eared copy of his beloved memoir, All Over But the Shouting. But you really haven’t experienced writer Rick Bragg until you’ve seen him in person. The University of South Carolina Aiken will invite the accomplished author and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist as part of the James and Mary Oswald Distinguished Writers Series. The event takes place at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 18, at the Etherredge Center. It’s free and open to the public.
LAST YEAR IN November, Augusta was treated to a traveling book festival called the Georgia Literary Festival, which brought more than 50 authors to town. The event was so successful that the local organizers decided Augusta deserved its own annual book festival, and Berry Fleming Book Festival was born.
The literary festival will take place the fourth week of September of each year, starting in 2017, and is named after one of Augusta’s most successful authors, Berry Fleming, who wrote a number of novels including Colonel Effingham’s Raid, which was made into a major motion picture. The festival is already considering authors and vendors, so if you’re interested in participating or donating, visit the website at berryflemingbookfestival.com or the Facebook page: facebook.com/Berry-Fleming-Book-Festival.
WARREN BINGHAM, author of George Washington’s 1791 Southern Tour, which reveals the history and lore of a beloved American president, will be in Waynesboro at the Burke County Museum for a special book signing event at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 28.
DO YOU HAVE LOCAL LITERARY NEWS? EMAIL IT TO KARIN.GILLESPIE@GMAIL.COM. BY THE BOOK IS PUBLISHED MONTHY ON LAST SUNDAYS.