Today’s Bacon Blast features the faces, voices, and summer reading choices of thirteen terrific Chapter 16 writers. I’ve already chosen three new books from their recommendations and had a hard time stopping there! You won’t want to miss Chapter 16’s new website, just launched, for more great ideas about what to read next.
Humanities Tennessee founded Chapter 16 in 2009 to provide comprehensive coverage of literary news and events in Tennessee. (Humanities Tennessee also brings us the Southern Festival of Books each year in October.) At Chapter 16, you’ll find reviews of novels, nonfiction, young adult and children’s books, poetry collections, and even cookbooks, with an emphasis on Tennessee authors. The larger literary landscape is not ignored; if a book is hot, you’re likely to find it reviewed. Podcasts, book excerpts, original poems, and author interviews help keep the site lively.
Without further ado, here are the featured writers, sharing a few thoughts on Chapter 16 as well as their summer reading…
Chapter 16 is…
ESSENTIAL. With so much of the traditional media pretty much liquidating book coverage, authors depend on outlets like Chapter 16 to get reviews and publicity for events online as well as into print outlets like the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Nashville Scene, and Knoxville News Sentinel. Chapter 16 is a huge public service and a big part of keeping book culture alive and thriving in Tennessee!
Strong Inside, by Andrew Maraniss (Montgomery Bell Academy All-School Read, and a remarkable document of Nashville and Civil Rights Era history)
Imagine Me Gone, by Adam Haslett (I’m reviewing this for Chapter 16‘s coverage of the Southern Festival of Books; my pal Mary Laura Philpott has been raving about this book so I’m really looking forward to it)
The Portable Veblen, by Elizabeth McKenzie (I met Elizabeth when we were on Thacker Mountain Radio together at Square Books in Oxford, MS – I found her absolutely brilliant and charming and am loving her new novel, which is both poignant and hilarious)
My latest piece at Chapter 16: A Summons to Memphis, by Peter Taylor
How would you describe Chapter 16?
Symphonic: so many voices, such skilled instruments
Taken somewhat at random from reading pile:
The Dust that Falls From Dreams, by Louis de Bernieres (author of Corelli’s Mandolin)
Speak, by Louisa Hall
The Occupation Trilogy, by Patrick Modiano
I would describe Chapter 16 as…
At the moment I’m reading Pit Bull: The Battle Over an American Icon by Bronwen Dickey for an upcoming piece at Chapter 16. I’m also reading Tobias Wolff’s This Boy’s Life and Witter Bynner’s Grenstone Poems.
My most recent review for Chapter 16: Linda Parsons’s poetry collection This Shaky Earth
One word that describes Chapter 16 is…
Thorough! I love how comprehensive the site is, because editor Margaret Renkl is so wonderfully thorough.
I just this week finished Laura Ruby’s Bone Gap, which won the 2016 Printz Award, and I’m looking for a good, new read. I’m always reading aloud to my daughters, and right now we’re reading The Chronicles of Narnia (we’re going to try to read them all this summer), and we just started Jonathan Auxier’s new novel, Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard. It is a distinct pleasure to read Auxier’s prose aloud.
Latest piece at Chapter 16: Q&A with William Joyce, author of The Mischievians.
How would you describe Chapter 16?
A champion of writers. Or: “A rich source of staggeringly good writing about books and literary matters.”
I finally read Where’d You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple. It was, as promised, very funny and a perfect beach read, though I was disappointed by the final third or quarter.
The Animal Dialogues, by Craig Childs. I read a compelling interview with Childs in the latest issue of The Sun, and now he’s my latest obsession.
You May See a Stranger, the debut short story collection from Paula Whyman. I met Paula at Rivendell last winter, and couldn’t wait for this book to come out. Her work’s been described as a bit like Lorrie Moore, but with more sex. Um, yes please!
And if I may squeeze in just one more?…. Hard Lines: Rough South Poetry, which, if I may gently plug, we’re reading for the Porch’s Poetry Book Club that meets July 16!
One of your favorite Chapter 16 reviews? Lee Clay Johnson’s Nitro Mountain.
Chapter 16 is…
Necessary. The media is full of dumb articles about the death of the humanities, when in reality we are reading more than ever. Chapter 16 is a feast of interesting ideas, with a strong local flavor.
I’m researching a short book on the presidential election of 1968, so I’m reading a lot about politics and politician from that era. Michael Cohen’s new book about the election, American Maelstrom, is terrific. Another of my recent favorites is Jeremy Larner’s Nobody Knows, an insider’s take on the inspiring yet disastrous protest campaign of Eugene McCarthy. And I got to re-read one of my all-time favorite books, Rick Perlstein’s Nixonland, which entertainingly captures the forces behind the profound political shifts of the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Latest work for Chapter 16: Q&A with Timothy Huebner, author of Liberty and Union: The Civil War Era and American Constitutionalism
… combines unique traditions with an independent spirit – not unlike Tennessee!
I’m currently reading Laura Benedict’s Bliss House, a perfect gothic thriller for summer. I’ve also been savoring Sandra Meek’s brilliant poetry collection An Ecology of Elsewhere. I can’t get these lines out of my head: “There is no return / to a world without fire.” Next up is Look by Solmaz Sharif.
Link to Chapter 16 review: Galaxie Wagon by Darnell Arnoult
Chapter 16 is a…
Godsend. Chapter16.org is a godsend for readers and writers in Tennessee.
The Leopard, by Giuseppe di Lampedusa, from 1958, and The Dream Life of Astronauts, by Patrick Ryan, which I reviewed for Chapter 16 (Ryan is so talented!). I’m also reading The Genius of Birds, by Jennifer Ackerman.
Link to my latest review: The Dogs Buried Over the Bridge, by Rheta Grimsley Johnson
What is one word to describe Chapter 16?
Sharing (We’re able to share so much good writing and get the word out about unsung gems.)
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (A colleague recommended it to me. After I read it, I shared it with the Math and Sciences dean who loved it and ordered another book by the author. And my former boss, now retired in Texas, saw my recommendation on Facebook and she loved it.)
A Thousand Miles from Nowhere by John Gregory Brown (I just finished reading it for a Chapter 16 review. I have a soft spot for books about lost souls who are brought back into the world.)
Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson. (This is for my job in Learning Resources. I’m always looking for ways for students to master learning.)
Link to latest review: The Alliance, by Jolina Petersheim
Describe Chapter 16 in just a few words…
Smart and fun.
Smoky Jack by Paul J. Adams
House of the Rising Sun by James Lee Burke
The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye by Sonny Liew
Latest Chapter 16 review: Smoky Jack, by Paul J. Adams
Chapter 16 makes me feel…
LaRose by Louise Erdrich – Possibly my favorite of hers yet, and I’ve been a fan girl for a very long time. Masterful.
Nicotine by Nell Zink (out in October) – You have to experience the hilarious madcappery that is Nell Zink for yourself. Start with last year’s sleeper gem, Mislaid, and look forward to getting your hands on her latest in a few months.
The Book of Isaias by Daniel Connolly (out in October) – An incredibly engaging, if often disheartening, look at the realities of life for would-be DREAMers, or foreign-born children of undocumented immigrants, with a particular focus on the singularly thoughtful and intelligent Isaias Ramos. The author embedded in a Memphis high school for a year and kept up with the students for years after in researching this important book.
Latest review: The Nest, by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
Barkskins by Annie Proulx
The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks by Terry Tempest Williams
Bright, Precious Days by Jay McInerney
Link to my most recent review: Louise Erdrich’s LaRose
Why Chapter 16?
When Tennessee newspapers started cutting their books coverage, it looked like dark days were ahead for the state’s literary scene. In filling that hole – and then some – Chapter 16 has been an absolute lifesaver for Tennessee writers – and, more importantly, Tennessee readers.
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried
J.D. Vance, Hillbilly Elegy
Helen Oyeyemi, What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours
Latest Chapter 16 review: Interview with historian about the fiftieth anniversary of James Meredith’s March Against Fear
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image of fireworks from Travelandleisure.com