Waking up on someone else’s sofa can be the loneliest feeling—or the perfect emblem of hope
by Joe Pagetta
January 7, 2013 In 2005, I released a record with some of Nashville’s finest musicians and a few guest singers. It was the closest thing I had to a breakthrough. There was critical acclaim, in the states and overseas, healthy airplay on college radio throughout the country, and I hit the road for some gigs that actually paid. Then I woke up one morning on another musician’s couch, and I realized I couldn’t do it. After working so hard to make something of myself, I just couldn’t spend any more time sleeping on other people’s couches.
Published Monday, 7 January 2013
Once I figured out what a sordid and confused battle my attackers were waging, I was no longer afraid
December 5, 2012 “People can be incredulous, at times even critical, when I tell them that I always treated these bad actors with civility. They assume I was weak, naïve, or simply just too nice. People actually used to urge me to go into the stands at basketball games in the Deep South and accost the racist cat-callers. The reality is that I always had a specific plan of action, and it was based on a tough-minded assessment of the circumstances, as well as a respect for certain important values.” In an essay for Chapter 16, law professor Perry E. Wallace recalls the lessons he learned at Vanderbilt as the first African-American basketball player in the Southeastern Conference.
Published Wednesday, 5 December 2012
To learn to soar, sometimes all it takes is a hero
by Sean Kinch
November 5, 2012 While my friends played Nerf football in the street or debated Big Ten versus Southwest Conference defenses, I’d bike over to Gullett Elementary with my junior-sized basketballs and spend afternoons on the school’s asphalt courts accompanied only by the imaginative projections of my heroes. No one witnessed the games, but I never felt alone—not with the Phoenix Suns’ Walter Davis on my wing and Alvan Adams on the block, not playing defense against Havlicek’s Celtics or trying to match the ball-handling panache of the Knicks’ Walt Frazier. I’d check the box scores for my heroes—guys like David Thompson or Rick Barry—and then re-create their statistics, making the same number of field goals and free throws, high-fiving teammates when the game was complete.
Published Monday, 5 November 2012
A Nashville native celebrates the arrival of the twenty-fourth annual Southern Festival of Books
by Emily Choate
October 12, 2012 Beginning at noon today, Humanities Tennessee kicks off the literary event of the Nashville year. At the Southern Festival of Books, running through Sunday on Legislative Plaza, you’ll find readings, panel discussions, author signings, children’s programs, music, food, and a huge array of literary wares. With seven Pulitzer Prize-winners and thirty-six authors who have appeared on The New York Times bestseller list, this year’s slate of talent encompasses a lively mix of Southern and non-Southern writers alike. Before it all begins, Nashville native Emily Choate reflects on the literary high-wire act she has loved since high school.
Published Friday, 12 October 2012
Novelist Christopher Hebert went to Haiti hoping to help—and he left the country realizing how complicated helping can be
June 29, 2012 There is no Home Depot in Bouli, Haiti. That fact is obvious, of course, but the significance of it is substantial. It means, for instance, that virtually every material for building must be found nearby. In such a remote place, even cinder blocks are out of the question; they’re too heavy for donkeys to carry in any significant number. To build a wall you need rocks and cement. Rocks come from wherever you can find them: fields, paths, riverbeds. And the cement is not the pre-mixed kind; it requires sand, lots of it. To get the sand, you dig a hole and then you sift the dirt to remove the stones and gravel, a slow, laborious process. Making cement also requires water. Since there’s no garden hose, every bucket must be carried up from the spring, which dribbles out of a pipe a hundred yards away.
Published Friday, 29 June 2012
In the aftermath of tragedy, what can a friend really say?
June 27, 2012 Two years ago, at 9:30 on Thanksgiving morning, my best friend’s husband was shot to death in his home. My friend had spent the previous evening watching classic movies late into the night and was still sleeping when she heard two shots. She remembers praying, as she wrapped a robe around her, slid into her slippers, and ran down the hallway, that she had heard only the sound of slamming doors.
Published Wednesday, 27 June 2012
As Richard Bausch prepares to leave Memphis, Chapter 16 pays tribute to the generosity of a beloved author and teacher
April 24, 2012 Acclaimed writer Richard Bausch has taught at the University of Memphis since 2005. Over the years, he’s also given great time and energy to mentoring writers in the wider community. As he prepares to leave for a new job in California, Chapter 16 considers his legacy of inspiration and support. Richard Bausch will give his farewell reading at the University of Memphis on April 25 at 8 p.m. in the University Center Theater, Room 145.
Published Tuesday, 24 April 2012
Why novelist Kevin Wilson waited for more than a decade to use a single line
by Kevin Wilson
April 19, 2012 In my book The Family Fang, one of the main characters listens to a tape recording of his father saying this line: “We live on the edge…a shantytown filled with gold-seekers. We are fugitives, and the law is skinny with hunger for us.” It serves as inspiration for the character, Buster, a writer, to begin a new novel. It’s a weird line, a wonderful line, and it’s a line I did not write.
Published Thursday, 19 April 2012
With National Library Week beginning on Sunday, a volunteer reflects on the stories she finds in the stacks
by Judy Loest
April 6, 2012 For a book lover, working in the downtown library’s used-book shop, surrounded by books and other book lovers, is the ultimate volunteer gig. Working there is always fun, and not just because of the books but also because of the people who drop in, because of the snippets of stories they tease us with. As a writer, I find it as rich as a candy store.
Published Friday, 6 April 2012
William Gay did not climb down from his ladder and, having never read a book, decide he was going to write one
by Tony Earley
March 2, 2012 Based solely on the many thousands of words written about William’s pre-writing career as a carpenter one might come to believe that he was some kind of working-class savant, a Rain Man of Letters; that an infinite number of drywall hangers had banged on an infinite number of typewriters until one of them accidentally typed The Long Home.
Published Friday, 2 March 2012
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