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Week of June 21, 2018


The Commonplace Book | Read This! | The List | Trailer Park | Okra Picks | Southern Indie Bestsellers | Events

{Digging for the Devil.}

In which Mr. Nick White suggests some essential Southern reading that may have escaped your notice, Mr. Tennessee Williams digs a hole in his backyard, and Ms. Jaki Shelton Green is named North Carolina's poet laureate, for good reason.

Dearest readers,

Jaki Shelton Green has just been named the new North Carolina Poet Laureate. Here is why:


If you are wondering where to start with reading her work, start here:

Conjure Blues Breath of the Song Dead on Arrival

Read Independently! And shop local.

her ladyship, the editor

Lady Banks' Pick of the Week

Lady Banks' Commonplace Book

Excerpted noteworthy poetry and prose from her ladyship's bedside reading stack.

SRising by Elizabeth Rush

On the surface this far end of the Tanyard looks like a depressed neighborhood in all the familiar ways--random pieces of furniture on the sidewalk, chain-link fences, broken windows--signs of basic human endurance coupled to long-term municipal negligence, discriminatory lending practices, and the stagnation of the minimum wage. But the closer I get to the bay, the more I begin to sot the telltale markers of flooding and flight. Many of the homes that sit on the ground bear watermarks00thepaint is one color and then abruptly transforms into a lighter shade. Like half-dipped Easter eggs.

Finally I arrive at number 324, a baby-blue cottage propped up on cinder blocks. I knock on the door and step back, waiting. Then I knock again. I tr the knob. Only then do realize that the door is nailed shut. Tiny rounds of galvanized steel line the edges of the wooden frame.

I walk around the side of the house, where flood damage peels the blue paint from the laminate siding, and try the back door. The windows are broken, and beside me, on the stoop, sits a melted vinyl chair. Soot scars the backrest. Looking at this, I imagine that Robert took the little federal aid he was offered and, instead of rebuilding in place, fled. Maybe he even had a bonfire to mark the end of his former life.

--Elizabeth Rush, Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore (Milkweed, 2018) 9781571313676

Bearskin by James A. McLaughlin

He stopped running in the grass behind the cabin, brushing bees from his hair and off his shirt, his bandanna fallen around his neck. A cloud of angry bees boiled in the doorway but hadn't followed, apparently content to eject him from the cabin. The hot sun pressed on his shoulders, the air outside clean and pleasant to breathe. Dragonflies swooped and hovered over a fecund riot of chest-high bluestem and orchard grass. This late in the summer, the crickets sang all day, and from the tall trees at the edge of the forest came the neurotic pulse and whirr of dog-day cicadas. Overhead, the long green wedge of Turk Mountain loomed like a great wave breaking northward.

No other human being lived within miles. Rice presided alone over seven thousand acres of private nature preserve: he was the caretaker, the science tech. He drove the John Deere tractor. He'd exaggerated his construction experience on the job application, probably one reason they'd hired a guy with his record. That and the fact he was a qualified biological science technician who looked like he could take care of himself.

--James A. McLaughlin, Bearskin (Ecco, 2018) 9780062742797

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News of a literary nature

A Visitation of Spirits by Randall Kenan" it is a truth universally acknowledged that the South has produced several towering figures of American literature, many of whom we know by their last names"  

keep reading: Nick White's 10 Essential Southern Books You Probably Haven't Read



Women in Sunlight by Frances Mayes"all these books give you a little something more." 

keep reading: Adah Fitzgerald (Main Street Books)'s Smart Beach Reads




FCat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams"That is one of my mother’s favorite stories. She found me digging in the backyard, and she said, “What are you digging for?” I said, “I am digging for the devil.” "9780811216012

keep reading: Tennessee Williams talks about being a writer



Equilibrium by Tiana Clark"Nashville. . .is hot chicken on sopping white bread with green pickle chips—sour to balance prismatic, flame-colored spice for white people. ” "

keep reading: Tiana Clark reads "Nashville"



Read This! Books with Street Cred

Recommended reading from Southern Indie Booksellers

The Myth of Perpetual Summer by Susan CrandallTallulah James has a complicated family. Growing up in small-town Mississippi in the 60s, she and her siblings are ridiculed and ostracized because of their crazy family history. This novel takes you on a roller-coaster ride of emotions as Tallulah tries to deal with her parents volatile personalities and tries to parent her younger siblings through the mess of their day-to-day life. This would make a good book club read with much to discuss: bipolar disorder, racism, and the upheaval of the 1960s.

The Myth of Perpetual Summer by Susan Crandall ($16.00*, Gallery Books), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.



The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
The Great Believers is the kind of book you make time for, the kind you cancel plans and turn your phone off for. It's utterly believable, heartbreaking, and beautiful. In Makkai's hands, this generation devastated by AIDS are not victims, but fighters, resisters, and believers. I am thankful for this book. 

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai ($27.00*, Viking), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

A Spring 2018 Read This! Next pick


The Unforgettable Guinevere St. Clair by Amy Makechnie You never know what’s going to come out of Guinevere St. Clair’s mouth, and you never know what’s going to happen when she’s around. This book is both rough and beautiful, hilarious and tragic in the most wonderful of ways. I will be thinking about this story for some time to come.

The Unforgettable Guinevere St. Clair by Amy Makechnie ($17.99*, Atheneum Books for Young Readers), recommended by The Story Shop, Monroe, GA.



More bookseller recommendations

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The List: New Favorites for Young Readers from Parnassus Books

(more here)

How Sweet the Sound Ocean Meets Sky Rosetown 
Monday's Not Coming Bob Neverworld Wake 

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Lady Banks' {Book} Trailer Park


"Of all the bad guys in the world, this was not the one you wanted hunting you."

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The Okra Pick(s) of the Week

"Bearskin is not a typical action filled thriller. It is a beautifully written literary adventure set in a pristine area of Appalachian Virginia. The action, while slow at times, builds into something powerful and intense by the end."--Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC

Bearskin by James A. McLaughlinA gritty and captivating debut about a caretaker of an Appalachian nature preserve who gets embroiled in a dangerous bear-poaching scheme—for fans of Smith Henderson, Ron Rash, and Daniel Woodrell

Rice Moore is just beginning to think his troubles are behind him. He’s found a job protecting a remote forest preserve in Virginian Appalachia where his main responsibilities include tracking wildlife and refurbishing cabins. It’s hard work, and totally solitary—perfect to hide away from the Mexican drug cartels he betrayed back in Arizona. But when Rice finds the carcass of a bear killed on the grounds, the quiet solitude he’s so desperately sought is suddenly at risk.

More bears are killed on the preserve and Rice’s obsession with catching the poachers escalates, leading to hostile altercations with the locals and attention from both the law and Rice’s employers. Partnering with his predecessor, a scientist who hopes to continue her research on the preserve, Rice puts into motion a plan that could expose the poachers but risks revealing his own whereabouts to the dangerous people he was running from in the first place.

James McLaughlin expertly brings the beauty and danger of Appalachia to life. The result is an elemental, slow burn of a novel—one that will haunt you long after you turn the final page.

Bearskin by James A. McLaughlin
Ecco Press | 9780062742797 | $26.99 | June 2018 | Buy

Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore by Elizabeth Rush"Sea level rise is not some distant problem in a distant place. As Elizabeth Rush shows, it’s affecting real people right now. Rising is a compelling piece of reporting, by turns bleak and beautiful.” —Elizabeth Kolbert

Harvey. Maria. Irma. Sandy. Katrina. We live in a time of unprecedented hurricanes and catastrophic weather events, a time when it is increasingly clear that climate change is neither imagined nor distant—and that rising seas are transforming the coastline of the United States in irrevocable ways.

In this highly original work of lyrical reportage, Elizabeth Rush guides readers through some of the places where this change has been most dramatic, from the Gulf Coast to Miami, and from New York City to the Bay Area. For many of the plants, animals, and humans in these places, the options are stark: retreat or perish in place. Weaving firsthand accounts from those facing this choice—a Staten Islander who lost her father during Sandy, the remaining holdouts of a Native American community on a drowning Isle de Jean Charles, a neighborhood in Pensacola settled by escaped slaves hundreds of years ago—with profiles of wildlife biologists, activists, and other members of the communities both currently at risk and already displaced, Rising privileges the voices of those usually kept at the margins.

At once polyphonic and precise, Rising is a shimmering meditation on vulnerability and on vulnerable communities, both human and more than human, and on how to let go of the places we love.

Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore by Elizabeth Rush
Milkweed Editions | 9781571313676 | $26.00 | June 2018 | Buy


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Southern Indie Bestsellers

For the week ending June 17. Books on the Southern Indie Bestseller List that are southern in nature or have been recently recommended by southern indie booksellers.

See the full list here.
The Southern Book Prize | A SIBA Okra Pick
Special to the Southern List | Read This Next!
Printable versions (PDF): Hardcover | Paperback | Children's



1. The President Is Missing
Bill Clinton, James Patterson, Little Brown, $30, 9780316412698
2. Florida
Lauren Groff, Riverhead, $27, 9781594634512
3. The Outsider
Stephen King, Scribner, $30, 9781501180989
4. Before We Were Yours
Lisa Wingate, Ballantine, $26, 9780425284681
5. There There
Tommy Orange, Knopf, $25.95, 9780525520375


1. Calypso
David Sedaris, Little Brown, $28, 9780316392389
2. The Soul of America
Jon Meacham, Random House, $30, 9780399589812
3. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
Neil deGrasse Tyson, Norton, $18.95, 9780393609394
4. The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma's Table
Rick Bragg, Knopf, $28.95, 9781400040414
5. How to Change Your Mind
Michael Pollan, Penguin Press, $28, 9781594204227

Special to the Southern List

The High Tide Club Mary Kay Andrews, St. Martin's, $27.99, The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma's Table Rick Bragg, Knopf, $28.95, The Glass Castle Jeannette Walls, Scribner, $17, My Southern Journey: True Stories from the Heart of the South Rick Bragg, Southern Living, $17.99,

FICTION of note

2. Florida
Lauren Groff, Riverhead, $27, 9781594634512
4. Before We Were Yours
Lisa Wingate, Ballantine, $26, 9780425284681
5. There There
Tommy Orange, Knopf, $25.95, 9780525520375
12. Love and Ruin
Paula McLain, Ballantine, $28, 9781101967386
13. Bearskin
James A. McLaughlin, Ecco, $26.99, 9780062742797
14. The High Tide Club
Mary Kay Andrews, St. Martin's, $27.99, 9781250126061
15. Varina
Charles Frazier, Ecco, $27.99, 9780062405982
7. Sing, Unburied, Sing
Jesmyn Ward, Scribner, $17, 9781501126079


4. The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma's Table
Rick Bragg, Knopf, $28.95, 9781400040414
6. The Secret Token: Myth, Obsession, and the Search for the Lost Colony of Roanoke

Andrew Lawler, Doubleday, $29.95, 9780385542012
12. The Sun and Her Flowers
Rupi Kaur, Andrews McMeel, $16.99, 9781449486792
3. Hillbilly Elegy
J.D. Vance, Harper, $16.99, 9780062300553
5. The Glass Castle
Jeannette Walls, Scribner, $17, 9781501171581
10. The Last Castle
Denise Kiernan, Touchstone, $17, 9781476794051
12. My Southern Journey: True Stories from the Heart of the South
Rick Bragg, Southern Living, $17.99, 9780848757465
13. The Devil in the White City
Erik Larson, Vintage, $16, 9780375725609

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What's happening at Southern Indies across the South?

See the full calendar | Find a Southern Indie Bookstore near you.

RACHEL NOBLE  (author appearance)
Rachel Noble | 06/22/2018, 11:00 am | Page & Palette | Fairhope, AL

Johnnie Bernhard  (author appearance)
Johnnie Bernhard | 06/22/2018, 05:00 pm | Pass Books | Pass Christian, MS

Paul Kix with THE SABOTEUR  (author appearance)
Paul Kix | 06/22/2018, 05:00 pm | Square Books | Oxford, MS

Yoga Frog Story Time with Nora Carpenter  (author appearance)
Nora Carpenter | 06/22/2018, 11:00 am | Flyleaf Books | Chapel Hill, NC

Jennifer Egan - Manhattan Beach   (author appearance)
Jennifer Egan | 06/22/2018, 07:00 pm | Quail Ridge Books | Raleigh, NC

Secrets of the Southern Table with Virginia Willis  (author appearance)
Virginia Willis | 06/22/2018, 06:00 pm | Blue Bicycle Books | Charleston, SC

Moveable Feast  (author appearance)
06/22/2018 | Burry Bookstore | Hartsville, SC

A Moveable Feast  (author appearance)
Susan Boyer | 06/22/2018, 06:30 pm | Burry Bookstore | Hartsville, SC

Wendy Wax Author of Best Beach Ever  (author appearance)
Wendy Wax | 06/22/2018, 11:00 am | Litchfield Books | Pawleys Island, SC

Book Launch for Sybil Baker, While You Were Gone  (author appearance)
Sybil Baker | 06/22/2018, 06:30 pm | Star Line Books | Chattanooga, TN

Barbara Brown and Sara Johnston  (author appearance)
Barbara Brown | 06/23/2018, 03:00 pm | Page & Palette | Fairhope, AL

ZAMI NOBLA Presents: Leona Beasley + Something Better than Home  (author appearance)
Leona Beasley | 06/23/2018, 7:30 pm | Charis Books & More | Atlanta, GA

Author Event- The She-Wolf of Kanta  (author appearance)
Marlena Frank | 06/23/2018, 11:00 am | Story on the Square | McDonough, GA

Children's Picture Book Authors Josh Funk, Lisa Judge, Miranda Paul, Baptiste Paul, and Camille Andros  (author appearance)
Josh Funk | 06/23/2018, 02:00 pm | Octavia Books | New Orleans, LA

Carolyn Mackler - UNIVERSE IS EXPANDING AND SO AM I, and Sarah Crossan - MOONRISE  (author appearance)
Carolyn Mackler | 06/23/2018, 05:00 pm | Octavia Books | New Orleans, LA

Michael Beadle - Beasts of Eden  (author appearance)
Michael Beadle | 06/23/2018, 15:00:00.000 | Blue Ridge Books & News | Waynesville, NC

Signing Table: Karel Lucander  (author appearance)
Karel Lucander | 06/23/2018, 10:30 pm | Main Street Books | Davidson, NC

Nora Carpenter – Yoga Frog  (author appearance)
Nora Carpenter | 06/23/2018, 11:00 am | McIntyre's Books | Pittsboro, NC

Renée Ahdieh – Smoke in the Sun  (author appearance)
Renée Ahdieh | 06/23/2018, 02:00 pm | McIntyre's Books | Pittsboro, NC

Cookbook Club: Debbie Moose  (author appearance)
Debbie Moose | 06/23/2018, 12:00 pm | Page 158 Books | Wake Forest, NC

Tonya D. Armstrong - Blossoming Hope  (author appearance)
Tonya D. Armstrong | 06/23/2018, 04:00 pm | Quail Ridge Books | Raleigh, NC

Davis and Kathleen Horner: Open House and Signing  (author appearance)
Davis and Kathleen Horner | 06/23/2018, 01:00 pm | Hub City Books | Spartanburg, SC

Pop-Up Author with John Wasowicz  (author appearance)
John Wasowicz | 06/23/2018, 10:00 am | M. Judson | Greenville, SC

Pop-Up Author with John Wasowicz  (author appearance)
John Wasowicz | 06/23/2018, 10:00 am | M. Judson | Greenville, SC

Book Launch Party with Author Kristin Levine   (author appearance)
Kristin Levine | 06/23/2018, 02:00 pm | Hooray For Books | Alexandria, VA

Meet & Greet at Athfest with Musician Chris Stamey  (author appearance)
Chris Stamey | 06/24/2018, 01:00 pm | Avid Bookshop | Athens, GA

Elise Gravel - THE MUSHROOM FAN CLUB  (author appearance)
Elise Gravel | 06/24/2018, 02:00 pm | Octavia Books | New Orleans, LA

Book Launch: YA Fantasy: Above the Star by Alexis Chute  (author appearance)
Alexis Chute | 06/24/2018, 06:00 pm | Tubby & Coo's Mid-City Book Shop | New Orleans, LA

Jennifer Palmieri - Dear Madame President  (author appearance)
Jennifer Palmieri | 06/24/2018, 02:00 pm | Quail Ridge Books | Raleigh, NC

Debbie Moose, Carolina Catch  (author appearance)
Debbie Moose | 06/24/2018, 03:00 pm | Scuppernong Books | Greensboro, NC

Author Wendy Wax  (author appearance)
Wendy Wax | 06/25/2018, 06:00 pm | Copperfish Books | Punta Gorda, FL

Author Terry Brooks: THE SKAAR INVASION  (author appearance)
Terry Brooks | 06/25/2018, 06:00 pm | Avid Bookshop | Athens, GA

PRIDE Event: JOHN COPENHAVER presents DODGING AND BURNING: A Mystery  (author appearance)
John Copenhaver | 06/25/2018, 06:00 pm | Malaprop's Bookstore & Cafe | Asheville, NC

Author Event: Elizabeth Carroll  (author appearance)
Elizabeth Carroll | 06/25/2018, 06:30 pm | Page 158 Books | Wake Forest, NC

Rebecca Todd Peters - Trust Women  (author appearance)
Rebecca Todd Peters | 06/25/2018, 07:00 pm | Quail Ridge Books | Raleigh, NC

Rick Bragg with THE BEST COOK IN THE WORLD  (author appearance)
Rick Bragg | 06/25/2018, 11:30 pm | Blue Bicycle Books | Charleston, SC

Hannah Pittard: Visible Empire  (author appearance)
Hannah Pittard | 06/26/2018, 06:00 pm | Garden District Book Shop | New Orleans, LA

Literary Luncheon: Donna Everhart  (author appearance)
Donna Everhart | 06/26/2018, 12:00 pm | Main Street Books | Davidson, NC

Rick Bragg  (author appearance)
Rick Bragg | 06/26/2018, 05:30 pm | Litchfield Books | Pawleys Island, SC

Andy Andrews - The Traveler's Summit  (author appearance)
Andy Andrews | 06/27/2018, 06:00 pm | Page & Palette | Fairhope, AL

Author Event: Kathy Izard - The Hundred Story Home  (author appearance)
Kathy Izard | 06/27/2018, 07:00 pm | Park Road Books | Charlotte, NC

Darren Farrell - Letter Town  (author appearance)
Darren Farrell | 06/27/2018, 06:30 pm | Quail Ridge Books | Raleigh, NC

Lauren Denton  (author appearance)
Lauren Denton | 06/28/2018, 02:00 pm | Page & Palette | Fairhope, AL

Kimberly Belle, Three Days Missing launch party  (author appearance)
Kimberly Belle | 06/28/2018, 07:00 pm | FoxTale Book Shoppe | Woodstock, GA

Melissa Daggett | 06/28/2018, 06:00 pm | Octavia Books | New Orleans, LA

DéLana R. A. Dameron with WEARY KINGDOM  (author appearance)
DéLana R.A. Dameron | 06/28/2018, 05:00 pm | Square Books | Oxford, MS

Sabaa Tahir in conversation with Roshani Chokshi about Sabaa's new novel A Reaper At The Gates (Ember In The Ashes #3)  (author appearance)
Sabaa Tahir | 06/28/2018, 06:00 pm | Flyleaf Books | Chapel Hill, NC

JOE CRESPINO presents ATTICUS FINCH: The Biography  (author appearance)
Joseph Crespino | 06/28/2018, 06:00 pm | Malaprop's Bookstore & Cafe | Asheville, NC

Author Event: Elizabeth Minnich - Evil of Banalit  (author appearance)
Elizabeth Minnich | 06/28/2018, 07:00 pm | Park Road Books | Charlotte, NC

Chris Nashawaty at SECCA  (author appearance)
Chris Nashawaty | 6/22/2018, 5 p.m. | Bookmarks | Winston-Salem, NC

Sports Writer Booksignings - National Sports Media Association 2018 Awards Weekend  (author appearance)
Andrew Maraniss | 6/24/2018, 2 p.m. | Bookmarks | Winston-Salem, NC

Kenny Leon - Take You Wherever You Go   (author appearance)
Kenny Leon | 6/26/2018, 7:00 PM | A Cappella Books | Atlanta, GA

I Prayed And Everything by Estrell Young III - Inspirational Talk  (author appearance)
Estrell Young III | 6/26/2018, 7:00 PM | Eagle Eye Book Shop | Decatur, GA

Ndaba Mandela - Going to the Mountain: Life Lessons from My Grandfather, Nelson Mandela   (author appearance)
Ndaba Mandela | 6/28/2018, 7:00 PM | A Cappella Books | Atlanta, GA

A Page from the Book Festival Presents Emily Giffin, All We Ever Wanted   (author appearance)
Emily Giffin | 6/28/2018, 7:30 pm | A Cappella Books | Atlanta, GA

Authors Round the South |

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