Art by Daniel Lai, to be auctioned at Authors in the Round dinner Fri. Oct. 14

Three days, eight food trucks, 288 authors, performance stages, downtown vibe, perfect fall weather:  BAM!  It’s the Southern Festival of Books.  Check out the schedule to see the host of terrific authors coming to Nashville October 14-16.  Today’s post features my quick guide to some of the Festival’s best offerings.


The Future of Nashville Media
Bruce Dobie, Ken Paulson, Kelly Gilfillan
Friday, October 14, 2016 – 12:00 – 1:30 pm, Nashville Public Library Commons Room

I’m crazy about Bruce Dobie, who sat down with my then 14-year-old and told her what it means to be a journalist and almost made me cry.  Dobie was editor and co-owner of The Scene for 15 years and in 2008 launched Dobie Media, Inc.  He has recently been involved in efforts to revitalize the Nashville Banner.  Ken Paulson – former editor-in-chief of USA Today – serves as the dean of the College of Media and Entertainment at Middle Tennessee State University and president of the Newseum Institute’s First Amendment Center.  Kelly Gilfillan is President and CEO of Home Page Media Group and a pioneer in hyperlocal media, an emerging trend.

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perfumeriverbyrobertolenbutler1Perfume River
Robert Olen Butler
Friday, October 14, 2016 – 1:30 – 2:30 pm, Nashville Public Library, Conference Room 1AB

I first heard Pulitzer-Prize winner Robert Olen Butler speak at Davis Kidd Bookstore 20 plus years ago (A Good Scent From a Strange Mountain), and I’m happy to hear him again, what feels like a lifetime later.




51jt6m8qmwlSoutheast Mystery Association presents Crimes, Cons, and Capers: The Many Faces of Crime Fiction
Clay Stafford, Jessie Powell, Erica Wright, Holly McClure
Friday, October 14, 2016 – 12:00 – 1:30 pm, Legislative Plaza Room 16

Nashvillian Erica Wright is a novelist and poet to keep an eye on.  USA Today calls her latest crime novel The Granite Moth “brisk, dark, slinky.”  Her debut, The Red Chameleon, was one of O, The Oprah Magazine’s Best Books of Summer 2014.  Clay Stafford is, among other things, editor of the collection Killer Nashville Noir and founder of Killer Nashville, one of the largest suspense and thriller writers’ conferences in the country.




static1-squarespacePit Bull: The Battle Over an American Icon
Bronwen Dickey
Friday, October 14, 2016 – 1:30 – 2:30 pm, Nashville Public Library Banner Room

Imagine heart emoticon followed by confetti.  See last week’s Bacon.





The Craving Brain: Science, Spirituality, and the Road to Recovery
Anderson Spickard, James B.
Friday, October 14, 2016 – 1:00 – 2:00 pm, Nashville Public Library Conference Room 3

Do you think you might have a drinking problem or know someone who does?  If you’re worried about it, the answer is probably yes – and this book will give you some ways to think about a path back to wellness.  My neighbor Dr. Spickard tells the story of his life’s work treating patients with alcoholism, and his co-author James B. tells the story of his recovery.  See Bacon.


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Enduring Legacies: The Best of Pulitzer Fiction
Alice Randall, Rebecca Wells, C. Michael Curtis
Friday, October 14, 2016 – 2:30 – 3:30 pm, Nashville Public Library Banner Room

What a lineup!

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The Most Exquisite Mayhem: New Novels by American Masters

Brad Watson, Donald Ray Pollock
Friday, October 14, 2016 – 3:00-4:00, Nashville Public Library Auditorium

I’m not sure there’s any “traditional” background for a novelist, but I’m pretty sure Watson and Pollock don’t have it.  Watson grew up in Meridian, Mississippi and left for Hollywood after high school graduation to become a movie star.  That didn’t work out, but he did find a job as a garbage man and much later as a journalist back in Mississippi.  Pollock has lived in Chillicothe, Ohio, his whole life, where he worked at the Mead Paper Mill as a laborer and truck driver until age 50.  They’ve both received national acclaim since they started writing fiction.  See last week’s Bacon on Watson.


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FRIDAY NIGHT, October 14, 2016 – 6:30 pm  Authors in the Round dinner at War Memorial Auditoriumauthors-203-downsized

There are still a few seats left at this headliner event, one of the highlights of the Southern Festival.  Come mix and mingle with forty authors and several hundred other book lovers, then enjoy dinner with an author at a table “in the round.”  This year’s co-chairs, Dianne Neal and Paul Ney, promise a delicious dinner by Kristen Winston and a dazzling array of authors, including Curtis Sittenfeld, J.D. Vance, Brad Watson, Donald Ray Pollock, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Gayle Forman, Yaa Gyasi, and many more.  Local luminary Andrew Maraniss will provide smart, funny commentary as emcee.  The evening concludes with drinks under the stars in the courtyard.  Tickets are $200 per person and you will not regret one penny of it.  Click here for more information or to buy a ticket.  Funds raised support the Southern Festival of Books.



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Women’s National Book Association Presents Coffee with Authors
Danielle Dutton, Curtis Sittenfeld, Yaa Gyasi, Adam Haslett
Saturday, October 15, 2016, 9:30 – 11:00 am, Nashville Public Library Auditorium

You’ll also need a ticket in advance for this wonderful mix and mingle event.  Tickets are free, you just need to reserve your spot among the enthusiastic gathering of readers for these high profile authors.

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91epx6odutlHillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
J.D. Vance
Saturday, October 15, 2016 – 10:00 – 11:00am, War Memorial Auditorium

Hillbilly Elegy is a New York Times bestseller and part of the cultural conversation right now.  See Bacon.






Nashville’s Literary Lights: New Voices

Odie Lindsey, Ed Tarkington
Saturday, October 15, 2016 – 10:00 – 11:00 am, Nashville Public Library Commons Room


Lindsey and Tarkington are Nashville-based authors whose debut novels are hot – hot – hot.  See Bacon on Ed Tarkington.



617hjma2zilIn Conversation: Ann Patchett and Beverly Lowry
Who Killed These Girls? Cold Case: The Yogurt Shop Murders

Saturday, October 15, 2016 – 11:00am – 12:00pm, Nashville Public Library, Conference Room 1AB

From Kirkus Review:

“An exhaustive examination of an unsolved 1991 murder of four teenage girls at a frozen yogurt shop in Austin, Texas.

The girls had all been shot, their bodies were incinerated at the back of the shop, and one or more of them was raped.  For years, Austin police and prosecutors investigated relentlessly without arrests, while the families of the four victims (two of them sisters) mourned, journalists broadcast and published multiple new twists as well as speculation, and four teenage boys feared they would become defendants because one of them had stupidly talked aloud, implicating himself and three acquaintances—maybe truthfully or maybe falsely… A grisly primer on criminal justice in the byzantine American system…”.

This isn’t the first book I’d pick up in a stack, but I’m going for the conversation.



51g9dtdpndl-_sx329_bo1204203200_The Orphan Mother: A Novel
Robert Hicks
Saturday, October 15, 2016 – 11:00 – 12:00 noon, Legislative Plaza, Room 12

Saralee Woods, co-owner of BookMan, BookWoman, says it’s his best yet.  “I read it in one sitting – it is fabulous!” she says in September’s Talk of the Town.  Hicks (who lives in Franklin, Tennessee) is well known for his novels of the Civil War, The Widow of the South and A Separate Country.



6136sclenslMiss Jane
Brad Watson
Saturday, October 15, 2016 – 12:00 – 1:00 pm, Nashville Public Library Auditorium

If you didn’t get enough of him Friday.





51xpc52-1-l-_sx341_bo1204203200_Bright, Precious Days: A Novel
Jay McInerney
Saturday, October 15, 2016 – 1:00 – 2:00 pm, Nashville Public Library, Conference Room 1AB

The New Yorker ran a profile in August that caught my attention.  One nugget:  “That an author famous for slick, stylish evocation of drug-addled youth has evolved into a restrained, almost sombre chronicler of professional-class ennui may seem surprising. “Bright, Precious Days” is a far cry from “Bright Lights, Big City,” the novel that made McInerney an instant celebrity in 1984, at the age of twenty-nine. But, underneath the glamour and flash of his subject matter, he has always been a more committed psychological novelist than his reputation suggests.”




61ap7t1abslSmoky Jack: The Adventures of a Dog and His Master on Mount LeConte
Anne Bridges, Ken Wise
Saturday, October 15, 2016 – 1:30pm – 2:30pm
Nashville Public Library, Conference Room 2

You know why I’m going to this. #DOG LOVE.



imgres-1American Housewife: Stories
Helen Ellis
Saturday, October 15, 2016 – 2:00 – 3:00 pm, Nashville Public Library, Conference Room 1AB

Helen Ellis is so fucking funny. See Bacon.





Secrets, Mysteries,and the Weight of Youth: Coming of Age Stories

Jeff Zentner, David Arnold, Brendan Kiely, Meredith Russo
Saturday, October 15, 2016 – 2:00 – 3:30 pm, Legislative Plaza, Room 30

It’s hard to pick just one YA panel to highlight given how many exceptional YA authors are coming to town.  Please browse the schedule if you love YA!  You’ll find Sherilynn Kenyon (Dragonmark), Maggie Stiefvater (The Raven King), Meg Abbott (You Will Know Me), and Lauren Oliver (Replica), among others.  On Jeff Zentner:  Bacon.





They Have to Take You In: Two Novels of Family

Ann Patchett, Adam Haslett
Saturday, October 15, 2016 – 2:30 – 3:30 pm
Nashville Public Library Auditorium

Ann’s brand new Commonwealth is everything you’d hope and expect from her. (See my review at Chapter 16 if you haven’t heard.  You could also check the New York Times bestseller list.)  Her friend Adam Haslett’s Imagine Me Gone made the longlist for this year’s National Book Award, and here’s how the committee described it:

When Margaret’s fiancé, John, is hospitalized for depression in 1960s London, she faces a choice: carry on with their plans despite what she now knows of his condition, or back away from the suffering it may bring her. She decides to marry him. Imagine Me Gone is the unforgettable story of what unfolds from this act of love and faith.




In Conversation: Curtis Sittenfeld and Gayle Forman

Saturday, October 15, 2016 – 3:30 – 4:30 pm, War Memorial Auditorium

You can see from the location that this will be one of the biggest events of the Festival.  Curtis Sittenfeld is the bestselling author of five novels: Prep; The Man of My Dreams; American Wife; Sisterland; and, most recently, Eligible, a contemporary retelling of Pride and Prejudice.

If you have a teen daughter or have had a teen daughter at any point since 2009, you’ve likely got a copy of Gayle Forman’s If I Stay lying around.  (Or you’ve paid for your daughter to see the movie.)  Forman is a bestselling YA author who has just written her first novel for adults, Leave Me.



Homegoing: A Novel
Yaa Gyasi
Saturday, October 15, 2016 – 4:00 – 5:00 pm, Nashville Public Library, Conference Room 1AB

From Slate.com:

“Yaa Gyasi’s debut novel, Homegoing, arrives this month [June 2016] with the sort of pre-release hype that is only heaped on several books per year.  First there were the stories about the high price (at least $1 million) that Knopf paid to acquire the book last year from then–25-year-old Gyasi.  And now comes the massive promotional campaign, with advance press in the major newspapers and a long, generous blurb form Ta-Nehisi Coates that appears on both the front and back covers.

The book itself is only 300 pages, but it is large in scope, packs an immense emotional punch, and features a number of superb scenes.  The novel moves between centuries and continents, starting in the 18th century in what is now Ghana.  There, at the real slave fort known as Cape Coast Castle, one African woman lives upstairs with her British husband while her sister, locked below, is a slave to be sent to America, where her descendants in present-day America help round out the story.  Gyasi herself was born in Ghana but then raised in Alabama from the age of 9.”

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Alias Chamber Ensemble
Sunday, October 16, 2016 – 12:00pm – 1:00pm
Music Stage

Cutting edge classical (cutting edge from the 17th to 21st centuries).

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Chapter16.org Profiles Tennessee Pulitzer Winners in Literature
Adam Ross, Bobby C. Rogers, Kate Daniels, Ed Tarkington
Sunday, October 16, 2016 – 12:00 – 1:00pm, Legislative Plaza, Room 12

Great lineup of speakers.

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41kllufjvl51fx8hopz1lIntegrating the Divided City: Nashville during the Civil Rights Movement

Ansley Erickson (Making the Unequal Metropolis: School Desegregation and Its Limits), Andrew Maraniss (Strong Inside: Perry Wallace and the Collision of Race and Sports in the South)


Sunday, October 16, 2016 – 12:00 – 1:00 pm, Legislative Plaza, Room 31

One of the cool features of this year’s Southern Festival of Books is the “Our Histories of Race and Ethnicity” Special Track, a series of sessions running throughout the Festival (including this session with Andrew Maraniss).  From the Humanities Tennessee website:  “For many of us, our ethnic or racial identities are an important part of our expressions of personal and shared histories.  As we are reminded every day, the ways in which we perceive our own as well as the identities of others have direct and lasting impact on the health of our communities.

With major support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Southern Festival of Books presents “Our Histories of Race and Ethnicity,” a rich and challenging track of sessions examining the ways in which our ethnic and racial identities shape us as individuals and as members of community.  Twenty sessions, and more than thirty authors, will explore these topics over the weekend through the lenses of social and political history, memoir, fiction and poetry.”  Click here to see the entire schedule of these events!

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The Pulitzer Prize in the 21st Century: Robert Olen Butler
Robert Olen Butler
Sunday, October 16, 2016 – 1:00 – 2:00 pm, Legislative Plaza, Room 12

If you didn’t get enough of him Friday.

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41iyk7ptrol-1The Final Season: The Perseverance of Pat Summitt
Maria Cornelius
Sunday, October 16, 2016 – 1:00 – 2:00 pm, Nashville Public Library, Banner Room

From the Tennessean: “Summitt was 59 when she retired in April 2012.  With 1,098 wins and eight national championships, she remains the NCAA’s winningest basketball coach.  She died this June 28 at age 64 after a five-year, often public battle against Alzheimer’s.

“I want a permanent record of that (final) season on a library shelf or somebody’s bookshelf instead of on someone’s computer or jump drive, however we save things now,” said Cornelius. “And I want people who maybe didn’t know Pat to have an appreciation for her even more.”




Where the Light Gets In: Losing My Mother Only to Find Her Again
Kimberly Williams-Paisley

Sunday, October 16, 2016 – 2:00 – 3:00 pm
Nashville Public Library, Conference Room 1AB

I’m introducing Kimberly and managing the Q and A.  I’d love to see some friendly Bacon faces in the audience!

From Penguin Random House:  “Many know Kimberly Williams-Paisley as the bride in the popular Steve Martin remakes of the Father of the Bride movies, the calculating Peggy Kenter on Nashville, or the wife of country music artist, Brad Paisley.  But behind the scenes, Kim was dealing with a tragic secret: her mother, Linda, was suffering from a rare form of dementia that slowly crippled her ability to talk, write and eventually recognize people in her own family.

Where the Light Gets In tells the full story of Linda’s illness – called primary progressive aphasia – from her early-onset diagnosis at the age of 62 through the present day.  Kim draws a candid picture of the ways her family reacted for better and worse, and how she, her father and two siblings educated themselves, tried to let go of shame and secrecy, made mistakes, and found unexpected humor and grace in the midst of suffering.”


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Click here for more fantastic art by Daniel Lai, whose gorgeous piece featured at the top of the post will be auctioned at the Authors in the Round dinner.