Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wait Until Tomorrow (copy)

American Libraries Association’s annual conference was held this past weekend in New Orleans. Librarians went up and down escalators, through never ending corridors to find rooms in a conference center that must be five football fields long. Not complaining, I needed to walk off all the delicious local food and coffee. America might run on Dunkin, but I was fueled by CafĂ© Du Monde’s beignets.

Among all the outstanding programs for librarians, one sounded perfect for our summer challenge. It was a panel of authors sponsored by Library Journal titled, “Celebrating Southern Writers.” Library Journal is a trade publication librarians use to order books. I recognized only one author’s name in the bunch, John Hart.

The panel included Mr. Hart, Tayari Jones, Kathleen Kent, Jennifer Niven, Pat MacEnulty, and Kevin Wilson. All of the panel members live in the south, but some were not typical southern authors. One must set her book in the south to be a southern author. All except Pat Conroy, he gets a pass.

One such author is Kathleen Kent. A lovely woman who wrote “The Heretic’s Daughter” that was book talked in June 2009. The setting is Salem, MA where 10-year-old Sarah Carrier watches as her mother Martha is accused of being a witch and goes on trial.

Based on Kent’s own family history, the book was well received and Kent returned to the family lore to write another book titled, “The Wolves of Andover” that appears in paperback as “The Traitor's Wife.” In this book she follows Thomas Carrier who was the husband of Martha and also thought to be the executioner of King Charles I.

Both books are great reads, but I do not consider them southern nor do I consider her a southern author just because she lives in Texas. On the other hand, Pat MacEnulty lives in North Carolina where she sets some of her books, but has a London publisher and most southern readers do not know her body of work.

An audible “Wow” flew from my mouth when I heard she was a student of Harry Crews. It is like finding gold on Nawlin’s Canal Street. I found a woman who writes my favorite sub-genre of the south, Dirty South, and soon her memoir, “Wait Until Tomorrow,” will be devoured like a fresh beignet.

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