Isn’t it fun to have buddies who share your hobbies and interests? If you read MUSING regularly, or if you follow along on Facebook and Twitter, you’ve probably seen references to “our friends at Chapter 16.” Pardon us for name-dropping… we should probably make an introduction:
Chapter 16 is an online publication founded by Humanities Tennessee. (Humanities Tennessee, of course, is the organization that brings cool events to our state each year, including The Southern Festival of Books in Nashville.) Every weekday, Chapter 16 covers literary news and events related to Tennessee — whether that’s an author profile, news about an upcoming event, or a review of a new book by a Tennessee author. The articles are often re-printed by their partner newspapers, including The Nashville Scene.
The folks who write and produce Chapter 16 live right here in Tennessee, and many of them are great friends of Parnassus Books. Though Chapter 16 covers blockbusters, too, Margaret Renkl, the site’s editor, especially loves to shine a spotlight on books that aren’t reviewed in the national media. “We’re very glad that by highlighting author events at bookstores, universities, and libraries across the state we’re also helping to promote the literary life of Tennessee,” she says. “Reading and writing are such solitary pursuits that it’s truly wonderful to get to hear a writer read from her work in real life.” Amen.
If you love to read (or write), it’s worth bookmarking the site or even signing up for their newsletter. In addition to interviews and reviews of books ranging from all sorts of fiction to poetry and the full range of nonfiction, Chapter 16 also includes other useful sections for book-lovers, including a set of podcast interviews, resources for writers, and a list of independent bookstores across the state. Here’s a little sampling of what you’ll find there this week:
“The age of electricity had come and gone.” This is a sweeping statement with epic implications, but in Emily St. John Mandel’s fourth novel, Station Eleven, it’s almost made in passing. With its enormous scope and an ambitious time-jumping structure, Station Eleven paints its post-apocalyptic world in both bold brushstrokes and tiny points of background detail. As the conflicts of one era illuminate another, a small group of interrelated characters witnesses the collapse of the current historical age and staggers through the first faltering steps of the next. (Read more of this article by Emily Choate.)
Karen Abbott (the “pioneer of sizzle history,” according to USA Today) has made a career of writing about unconventional and revolutionary women. Her first book, Sin in the Second City, tells the true story of two sisters who ran a world-famous brothel in the early 1900s and the national crusade to shut them down. Her second, American Rose, is an unflinching portrait of burlesque queen Gypsy Rose Lee and the dark side of the American dream. Abbott’s new book, Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy, intertwines the lives of four female Civil War spies—two for the Union, two for the Confederacy—who risked everything for their cause. Erik Larson, bestselling author of The Devil in the White City, says, “With this book, Karen Abbott declares herself the John le Carré of Civil War espionage—with the added benefit that the saga she tells is as true and beautifully researched.” (Read the rest of Holly Tucker’s interview with Karen Abbott.)
Thomas Jefferson feared speaking in public. The repatriated Charles Darwin was an agoraphobe. Isaac Newton invented calculus but for ten years told no one out of fear of ridicule. Samuel Johnson was both hypochondriac and agoraphobic. Stage fright forced semi-retirement on Barbra Streisand, Carly Simon, Donny Osmond, and Hugh Grant. Anxiety has afflicted humankind from the beginning of time, according to Scott Stossel, author of My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind. And it both inspires our best survival tactics and drives us into isolation and fear. (Get the rest of this great interview by Beth Waltemath here.)
Parnassus Books owes our community a big hug and enormous gratitude. Our Nashville neighbors — as well as readers and customers from afar — have shown tremendous support of what we’re doing. By shopping indie, you’ve helped keep the independent bookstore experience alive for everyone.