It turns out that Chuck Beard, the unstoppable proprietor of East Side Story and curator of the new Based On Nashville art, music and words project, can indeed be stopped. At least from writing this column.
We count on Chuck each month to voluntarily provide us the inside scoop on the many literary events going on in Middle Tennessee. This July, he’s got so many irons in the fire that he’s trusting me — a beard in facial hair only — to take over for him. I promised him I’d do my best, and made him promise he’d be back next month.
Probably the biggest literary event of the month will be taking place at just about any bookseller in town that carries new releases. On Tuesday, July 14, the highly anticipated second novel from Harper Lee, Go Set a Watchman, hits bookshelves. A sequel to Lee’s classic, To Kill a Mockingbird, the book features that first novel’s narrator, Scout, returning to New York 20 years later. Apparently written before Mockingbird, the novel’s release has not been without controversy. As Kate Weiss, a bookstore event coordinator in Louisville, Kentucky, told the New York Times, “… Lee has come out and said that she supports it, but I just find it unlikely that this manuscript that is worth so much money was lost. I want to celebrate that there’s going to be another Harper Lee book, but I think that’s not the whole story.”
Right now, we’re not seeing any specific events on our radar being held to celebrate the release, but we assume all our local booksellers, including Parnassus, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Bookman/Bookwoman and Howlin’ Books will have healthy displays. Give them all a call beforehand just to be sure.
While the release of Go Set a Watchman may certainly be the biggest national literary news of the month, here in Nashville a very close second will be the Southern Festival of Books lineup announcement on Saturday, July 11 at the stunning new Bellevue Branch of the Nashville Public Library. Humanities Tennessee will reveal the author list for the 27th annual Festival, which will take place October 9-11th in downtown Nashville. If past years are any indication, it’s sure to be a stellar lineup. I could spend this entire post writing about the authors I’ve seen and talked with there, like Kathryn Stockett and Junot Diaz and Richard Price. The July 11 event is free and open to the public, and beverages and light hors d’oeuvres will be served. An RSVP is recommended. The Bellevue Branch Library is at 720 Baugh Rd.
Instead of calling Parnassus to make sure they have Go Set a Watchman, you could ask them in person on Thursday, July 2, when you stop by for a chat with Nashville food writer and cookbook author Nicki Pendleton Wood, who’ll be discussing and signing copies of her new cookbook Southern Cooking for Company. We love the book’s subtitle: More Than 200 Southern Hospitality Secrets and Show-Off Recipes. Nashvillians who’ve been here for more than a few years will recognize Wood from her restaurant reviews and writing on food in the Nashville City Paper and Nashville Scene. The event starts at 6:30 p.m.
Any Family Guy fans out there? Kirker Butler, one of the producers of the show, will be at Barnes & Noble at Vanderbilt on Tuesday, July 7 at 7 p.m. to read from and sign copies of his new novel, Pretty Ugly. The book is billed as “a satirical look at a dysfunctional family complete with a stage mom, 9 year-old pageant queen, philandering husband, his girlfriend, and the crazy grandmother.” What’s not to like?
July 7th is a busy day. Also on that Tuesday, Anthony Bourdain brings his Close to the Bone Tour to TPAC. The best-selling Kitchen Confidential author and star of TV shows Parts Unknown, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations and The Layover will share stories and insights from his life’s and travels. He’ll also open up the show to a Q&A with the audience. I caught Bourdain at TPAC some years back, and he was both biting and brilliant.
Across the river on July 7, East Side Storytellin’ returns with number 62, this time featuring Amy Hall on words, and Lauren Farrah on music. Things kick off at 7 p.m. at the Post on Fatherland Street.
Melanie Vare’s That Time of the Month Funny Female Storytelling series has been going strong in Nashville for three years now. On Wednesday, July 22, Vare and some of TTOTM’s funniest writers will gather at Tin Cup Coffee on Rosa Parks Blvd. to celebrate the release of a new compilation book. Tickets are $7 in advance or $10 at the door. The book will be available for purchase.
OZ Nashville’s Thursday Night Things series continues to bring together some of the area’s most compelling artists for one-of-a-kind collaborations. This month’s installment on July 23 takes on a literary bent with one of Nashville’s finest writers and poets, Stephanie Pruitt. In Embodiment: Poetry Through the Five Senses, Pruitt collaborates with a chef, a new music ensemble, an architect, an aromatherapist, and a new proximity-based technology to create a multi-sensory journey inside a poem. Each artistic partner interprets a line from Pruitt’s poem “Close Reading,” written for this program, and individually engages each member of the audience’s five senses. The event starts at 7 p.m. at OZ.
There is plenty more going on this month. Shakespeare Allowed is at the Main Library in downtown Nashville on July 11; What Would You Do? host John Quiñones is at Barnes & Noble at Vanderbilt on July 19; and Sarah Kai Neal is the featured poet at Scarritt Bennett Center’s monthly Poet’s Corner series on July 23. Be sure to check the NowPlayingNashville.com Literary Listings for a more comprehensive list. If you’re hosting an event and we don’t have it on the site, be sure to submit it today AND post it in the comments below.
Chuck, I hope I did a good job on your behalf. See you next month!