Monday, April 28, 2008

Georgia Books--Author S. A. Harazin

On May 1st, three Atlanta area authors will be attending the annual Edgar Awards in New York City. The Edgars, as they are known, are presented by the Mystery Writers of America and represent the highest honor for writers in the genre. The Atlanta authors who will be attending this year’s ceremony as nominees are Evelyn Coleman, author of Shadows on Society Hill, Derek Nikitas, author of Pyres, and S. A. (Shirley) Harazin, author of Blood Brothers (and resident of my hometown of Lawrenceville, GA).

A story about the Atlanta Edgar nominees appears in yesterday’s Atlanta Journal Constitution, and can be read at

More information about the Edgar Awards may be found at

I had the opportunity to sit down with author S. A. Harazin this past Saturday and chat with her over coffee about Blood Brothers, her writing career, and her nomination for an Edgar. Let me begin by saying thanks to Shirley for taking the time to meet with me. Also, as I did at the beginning of my conversation with the author, I should note that I do not normally read titles that fall into the mystery or thriller categories.

I do make a real effort to keep up with what is going on the in the book world, and in the Georgia book world in particular. That’s a big job. Just ask the people who get paid to do it. Back in early April I came across a story about Blood Brothers in the Gwinnett Daily Post, my suburban Atlanta county newspaper. The story appeared on April 6th, and can be read at the Post’s website, As the story concerned a local author, I went out and bought a copy of the book and started reading it. Because the newspaper story was about the book being nominated for an Edgar, I started reading it with the expectation that it would be, well, a mystery novel.

The elements of a good mystery or thriller are definitely to be found in Blood Brothers (the folks at the Edgars certainly think so). But more importantly, in my humble opinion, is the fact that this book is an example of just plain good storytelling. Other reviewers have called it “gripping and raw” and “gritty”. I have even seen several references comparing it to S. E. Hinton’s young adult classic, The Outsiders.

As I read Blood Brothers, I did want to find out what happens next—I wanted to get to the bottom of the mystery in the story. But it was the strong relationships, the very believable characters about whom I wanted to know more, and the realism of the plot, the language, and the setting that really pulled me in to the story.

Blood Brothers is the story of two young men, Clay and Joey, who are just out of high school. The two move in very different social circles, and have very different upbringings. Still, they have been the closest of friends since they were children. As they plan their respective futures, including a planned cross-country bicycle trek, tragedy strikes.

The story’s central figure and narrator is Clay, who works at the local hospital as an orderly and has dreams of one day becoming a doctor. Life has certainly dealt Clay his share of hard knocks. Much of the story takes place in the hospital where Clay is employed. The author’s many years of experience as a nurse (and one-time orderly) give the story in her novel a real sense of authenticity. Some of the detail in the book could only have come from someone with an intimate knowledge of life in a hospital—from the technical aspects to the human drama.

Another central theme of the book is the friendship between Clay and Joey. Joey is the perfect guy—handsome, popular, smart, and with a loving and supportive family. The young men’s friendship is tight, and loyalty is also a big part of the story. The supporting cast of characters in the book is well developed. Finally, the language in the book is dead-on, and suggests that the author has quite an accurate and sympathetic ear for her characters and her audience.

Below are some snippets from my conversation with S. A. Harazin, author of Edgar Award nominee, Blood Brothers:

So, first questions, first—the questions that you have already answered many times before. How did you get started writing?

Well, I always wanted to write. After high school, my mother (who was a nurse) told me that I needed to do something to pay the bills. So I went to nursing school.

You’re, you know, a girl. Why did you choose to make Clay a male character?

He was a combination of two orderlies whom I knew personally.

The language in your book is really authentic. You also deal with some pretty intense themes, some of which are particularly relevant to young people nowadays. Still, there isn’t anything in your book that comes across as preachy, or as a deliberate attempt to tug at the emotions. You don’t seem to be trying to deliver a message. Can you comment on that?

Teens are really savvy. If it’s preachy, they aren’t going to read it. I’m just telling a story. I’ve had teens in my house for years (Harazin is the mother of two sons and a daughter, all college age now). I think that they talked honestly around me. My main purpose is to tell a story. I want the reader to make their own conclusions. You don’t need hokiness to make the generational connection. The book is written for a contemporary audience.

Where did the friendship between Joey and Clay come from?

It’s all fictional. It’s drawn from my nursing experience. But I’ve made every effort to insure it was fictionalized.

You have three children, all within Clay and Joey’s age range. Did they play a role in the shaping of Blood Brothers?

Yes. Especially my two sons. I think that my daughter thinks things through better than my two sons.

Am I going to get you in trouble if I post that last bit?

No. My sons are both really smart.

Yes, so I noticed. I read on your website that all of your children are either in college or university, or just graduated. And all of them are apparently math, physics and chemistry whizzes.

Yes. I don’t know where they got that gene.

One reviewer called your book “gritty”. What do you think?

I was a little surprised. There isn’t anything weird in it. The hospital stuff is pretty accurate.

Another reviewer compared it to Hinton’s The Outsiders. What did you think of that?


I was really taken with some of the supporting characters. In particular, I liked the sheriff. Who was that character based upon?

The sheriff character was completely made-up.

You’re kidding? I really wanted to know more about him. He was just such a surprise.

Well, I’ve actually had people ask me about writing a book just about the sheriff. I don’t think so. You know, not all heroes are good looking or rich or powerful.

Still, he was a great character. What about some of the other supporting characters?

Clay’s father. Joey’s parents and the girlfriend. They were all made up. Some of the hospital staff was drawn from my own experience.

When I first picked up Blood Brothers and started reading, I was expecting a mystery. I kept thinking to myself while I was reading that, yes, there is this mystery that I really want to get to the bottom of. Still, this is just a really good story. What do you think about the book as a mystery?

(Laughing) I didn’t know it was a mystery. I just wanted to tell a story.

What do you think about the Edgar Award nomination?

I’m just so excited. It’s such an honor. On Thursday, Random House is sending a limo to my house to take me to the airport. I mean, I’m a housewife. I normally get excited about finding really good coupons in the newspaper.

How did you find out that you had been nominated for the award?

I had just returned from taking the dog to the vet. A friend sent me an email telling me to go check the website for the Edgar Awards. Then I heard from my editor and agent.

So, finally, what are you reading right now?

(laughs again) The works by the other nominees. Did you know that there are two other nominees from Georgia who are going to be there? I hope to meet some of the other nominees while I’m in New York.

Do you mind if we chat again after you return from New York?

No, not at all. (Big laugh) If I win, I’ll email you first as soon as I get back!

Delacorte Press published Blood Brothers in July 2007. In addition to the nomination for an Edgar Award, both the American Library Association and the New York Public Library have also recognized it as a notable book for young adults. It has also been nominated for a Georgia Peach Award.

S.A. Harazin is working on a new novel about a child afflicted with a rare condition that results in an inability to feel pain.

What a smart, down to earth lady! Thanks again, Shirley, for taking time out to talk about your book. Very best wishes to you and the other Georgia nominees at next week’s Edgar Awards in New York.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Earth Day, Plus One

Happy Earth Day, plus one.

From the “It’s a new book to me” category, I am currently reading Last Child in the Woods—Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv. The book was published in 2005 by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill and has since received enormous attention from educators, environmentalists, children’s advocates, and the popular media. If I understand correctly, Mr. Louv coined the term Nature-Deficit Disorder. I was relieved to find while reading the book that Mr. Louv’s intention is not to give the pharmaceutical industry yet another niche illness from which to profit.

Mr. Louv’s Nature-Deficit Disorder is just a simple descriptive term for the many ill effects that seem to affect children who are growing up completely desensitized to nature. It’s pretty basic. Kids don’t know where their water comes from. They don’t know where their food comes from. Their understanding of the world is compartmentalized (into TV channels and websites largely). They are disconnected from a genuine understanding of the world—big and small—in which they live. In addition, they are not getting the fresh air, exercise, and learning by doing experiences that they need and that come from being in the woods, mountains, or at the shore. They are also missing out on fully developing their creative and analytical thinking skills, as well as their senses of self-confidence and sensible caution. And for many, they are just simply missing out.

My wife and I have two youngsters, ages five and three. We want them to be safe, healthy, happy, and curious. We want them to grow up to be good people, discerning, responsible, unhurried, unharried (new word?), respectful, grateful, active, self-confident, and not materialistic. We want them to be self-confident. We think that nature will have a lot to do with us (and them) achieving these things.

Louv touches on many topics in his book, covering traditional environmental and conservation topics, parental worries and supporting studies about the harm of too much television and too much dependence upon technology (computers, video games, etc.), worries about physical fitness and emotional health, and education policy, all within the context of how real and regular contact with nature is good for kids.

One subject really sticks out in my mind. My wife and I talk about this often. It concerns the freedom for kids to roam, to just explore. Nowadays, it seems more about the parents’ willingness to allow their children to even get out of their sight. Louv discusses these issues thoughtfully and honestly. Still, I was a little sad with his final stance on the matter, though I agree with him completely.

I remember roaming the Southeast Atlanta suburbs where I grew up. Even on camping trips, I often was out of sight and out of earshot for hours, roaming the woods, exploring and cooking up adventures. Maybe I exaggerate a little. I do recall that, on the rare occasions where I did get into a fix, mom or dad seemed to appear at just the right time. Of course, no matter how “out of sight” I might have thought I was, when I got seriously out of line (like going out into a boat by myself and without a life jacket) the long arm of parental justice would swiftly appear and my free ranging would be limited to the family tent for the remainder of the outing. And that after a seat-warming.

I don’t think that my wife and I will worry so much about our kids being alone in nature, when the time comes. We will, regretfully, worry about whom else might be out there with them.

But for now, we want to get them outside.

Strongly recommended: Last Child in the Woods—Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv.

Louv also makes an excellent case for fishing.

Speaking of which, my three-year-old son cast his first line this past weekend while down at his grandfather’s small lake south of Atlanta. After repeated attempts, he finally succeeded in getting down the eye-arm-thumb-rod coordination properly. And, MAN, was he proud. Me too. Of course, his five-year-old sister has had it down for several years, now. Her satisfaction comes from her ever improving distance and aim, both of which she lords over her younger brother.

And my son fired his first BB gun. Actually, it was my old BB gun, and I was, of course, holding it for him while he squeezed off a few BB’s. His sister showed no interest, too busy, I suppose, reeling in a nice bream.

A plug for the Daisy air rifle company: the BB gun that we were shooting is (oh, Lord) nearly forty years old. It still works. I remember the very first BB I ever fired with it. I had begged and begged my mother to let me shoot it, swearing on everything that an (eight? nine?) year-old-boy could think of to swear on. When she finally relented, I went down to our dirt basement and set up several large, plastic native-American figures that I had gotten at Zaire’s department store as targets. I paced off about ten feet, took aim at one of the indigenous peoples and fired.

This next bit will mean something to the people who have seen the movie, A Christmas Story. The very first BB that I ever fired, bounced back and hit me in the face, just below my right eye. OH, GOD! I SHOT MY EYE OUT! Just like mom said that I would. Crap! I am going to be in SO much trouble. They’ll take away my BB gun.

I dropped the BB gun and made certain that I hadn’t shot my eye out. I hadn’t, and I don’t mean to make light of what might have been. I actually had a childhood friend who nearly lost an eye to a BB.

I never, ever, told my mother about that incident in the basement. Maybe this goes back to the Louv book, too, now that I think about it. He writes about controlled risk. We can’t protect our kids from everything, and imagine their lives if we try to sanitize everything around them. It’s a scary and fine balance, this business of parenting.

One last note on the worth of the outdoors: I agree with Louv’s thoughts on nature’s role where family is concerned, that it is something that a family can share and experience togehter, that it is a wonderful teaching venue for parents, and that it can be a generational experience. I know how much my father enjoys the time by the lake with the grandkids.

If exposure to nature will help my kids develop their own unique senses of adventure, fancifulness, mystery, or even contribute to whatever spiritual directions they might choose to follow as they get older, well, so much the better. It makes perfect sense. And on that score, if my mom is reading my blog (and I like to think that she is), I’m certain that she is getting a big chuckle about my stressing over boats and BB guns. She passed away two years ago today. I see retelling—and retelling—all of the family camping and fishing trips to my little ones as a great way of remembering their grandmother.

Recommended reads:

An Outdoor Journal by former Georgia Governor and US President Jimmy Carter.

Deliverance by James Dickey. Perhaps the best literary example of the trouble that people with Nature-Deficit Disorder can get into.

Deep Enough for Ivorybills, Inheritance of Horses, and The Colors of Africa by James Kilgo.

Ecology of a Cracker Childhood and Pinhook: Finding Wholeness in a Fragmented Land by Janisse Ray.


Monday, April 14, 2008

The Action Adventure Man Book Club

I would like to thank my friends at Accent Gwinnett Magazine for allowing me to review The Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn and Hal Iggulden. The review (below in its entirety) appears in the March/April 2008 issue of their fine publication.

Accent Gwinnett is a local/regional publication. It’s a lifestyle magazine and targets the Gwinnett County, Georgia community--a suburb of, and major player within, the metropolitan Atlanta area (and with a population that exceeds those of Vermont, Alaska, and Iceland, to name a few).

The magazine can be viewed at

I say thanks to AG because, well, I think that anyone who gets his or her words into print (in other people’s publications, especially) ought to show a little gratitude. Also, I’m grateful that they allowed me to review a book that was, by the standards of the book business, already old news. I am a FIRM believer in the view that all books are new and interesting to someone. I think that people have a tendency to view books like so much else—how could it be any good if it’s, you know, old? Good books are always good books. Still, I don’t fault the book business on this score. It’s a damned tough business to be in, and there are so many fine books to promote.

Finally, thanks AG for letting me review a really fun book, despite its having been previously reviewed and hyped (and deservedly so) just about everywhere else.

So, here it is, right from the pages of Accent Gwinnett Magazine (reproduced here with permission, of course.).

Book Review
The Dangerous Book For Boys by Conn
and Hal Iggulden
Published May 2007 by Harper Collins; 270

Reviewed by Eddie Suttles for Accent Gwinnett

Originally published in the United Kingdom in
2006, The Dangerous Book for Boys landed on U.S. bookshelves in the
spring of2007 and was an immediate smash with
readers, booksellers, libraries, adventurers, parents, kids, boys, girls,
pundits and, well, you get the picture.

The book has enjoyed nearly forty weeks on the New York
Times bestseller lists, and is still going strong. It has an award-winning
website,, that even features a link for educators who want to bring a little danger into their classrooms. The book also led to a follow-up title aimed at girls, The Daring Book for Girls by Andrea J. Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz.

The Dangerous Book for Boys has also created an
enormous amount of attention from all sorts of experts and
pundits. Half seem to trumpet the book’s heralding in a return to a
golden age of “boys being boys”, when youth put down their latest high-tech gaming devices, unplug themselves from the net, and return to the rough and tumble world of Tom Sawyer and Dennis the Menace. The other half decry the book’s potential to encourage rough play, and the imminant danger and emotional scarring that may result from skinned knees or, God forbid, actually coming in contact with the outdoors.

Oh, brother.

The book is essentially a guide to the manly
arts—the essential skills that boys will need
growing up. Paper airplanes, stickball, famous battles, spies, pirates,
navigation, history, skipping stones. Imagine, an introduction to
Shakespeare, Latin, and grammar crammed into the same pages with the necessaryinstructions for making invisible ink, identifying constellations, how to juggle, and first aid basics. All here.

The book is filled with sound
advice. Take this example from the chapter on

“Cast carefully as a hook catching your eyebrow is a
deeply unpleasant experience.”

The book definitely has a nostalgic quality to it. Even its size and jacket cover evoke a certain Indiana Jonesness. And despite the book’s title, it has proven hugely popular with moms and daughters, too. According to one comment on the book’s official website, it seems that nearly half of the books fans are female.

If there is one criticism that might be leveled at the book, it
might be that many readers may find exception with the the
list of Essential Gear that appears on page one. The expected
equipment makes the list (items such as a Swiss Army knife and
compass). However, this reviewer was surprised to see that duct tape
and a can of WD40 had not made the list. One would certainly want to
add a library card, as well. Then, these may just be personal
preferences that individual readers would wish to tweak to
their own liking.

This book is a gem. It is about fun, plain and simple. And fun can, or should according to the authors, contain a little danger. If you are going to play, you might get hurt. If you are going to build a treehouse, you might smash your finger. You might even fall out of the tree. Go carts crash. Pocket knives, BB guns, slingshots, bows and arrows, girls. Danger at every turn. And would we have it any other way?

That was fun. But I would encourage readers to check out some of the other reviews and commentary about this book. There is so much more going on here than simply the fun and nostalgia aspects.

Some additional reading material for those of you getting ready for the new Indiana Jones or James Bond films, or for those who simply need to placate their inner Action Adventure Man (or Woman) might include:

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook by Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht. The little1999 phenomenon that sarted an entire brand. Still fun. Still relevant to all would-be adventurists.

International Spy Museum Handbook of Practical Spying by Peter Earnest and Jack Barth. A wonderful James Bond and Jason Bourne primer.

The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The man who gave us Sherlock Holmes also gave us the original modern-man-meets-dinosaur adventure one hundred years before Jurassic Park.

A Rage to Live—A Biography of Richard and Isabel Burton by Mary S. Lovell. Sir Richard Francis Burton, British Victorian Orientalist, was the archetyp adventurer. He spoke twenty-three languages, he explored the headwaters of the Nile, he translated the first English language editions of The Arabian Nights and the Kama Sutra, he (is a least credited with) inventing sunglasses. And those are just the tip of the iceberg. This is an epic history and, um, love story.


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Mark Twain

Of all God's creatures there is only one that cannot be made the slave of the lash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat.

--Mark Twain, Notebook, 1894

Recommended Reading:

The Cat Who Covered the World by Christopher S. Wren


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A Is for Angler

It is getting to be about that time again. I expect that you can begin to smell them at my dad's pond right about now.

I believe that there are times when God wants to test us--test us for our patience and determination. That is why He created fish.

I believe that there are times when God wants to test our integrity, our honesty. That is why He created fishermen.

Who better to serve as the link between books and water than fishermen?

Some recommended reads:

The Valley of Light by Terry Kay (a Georgian)

At the Grave of the Unknown Fisherman by John Gierach

Also, have a look at the March/April edition of Garden & Gun Magazine. It features a piece by author and humorist Roy Blount, Jr. (from Georgia) extolling the vitues of panfish (bream and crappie).

Fishermen are born honest, but they get over it.
--Ed Zern, To Hell with Fishing

Friday, April 4, 2008

Trying to start something.

I have been getting some feedback from readers. Granted, at this point I could likely count the number of acknowledged readers of my blog on my fingers. Still, it’s nice to hear from people.

In the interest of drumming up some discussion—and mostly because I am curious to know people’s thoughts on the subject(s), I wanted to post several general queries. They are surveys, really, though not particularly scientific surveys.

First, I would like to ask the question (again) regarding people’s opinions as to what is the most literary city or town in the State of Georgia. There are no set parameters here. The choice can be based upon anything that someone might wish to use to qualify his or her choice. For example, what famous authors come from there? What famous authors live there now? What books have been written about the place (fiction and non-fiction)? Are there publishers located there? Is the place known for current and regular literary activity (festivals, workshops, etc.)? I’d like to hear from you regarding your thoughts.

Second, where, who, and what are the most literary bookstore, coffee shop, author venue, and/or bar in the Atlanta area? Elsewhere in Georgia?

Third, as this blog is also about water, I would like to pose the following question. Before I do, however, I want to qualify it by stating that I understand that there is probably an official designation for the place that I am about to ask about. That is, there are surely governmental and scientific studies that would answer the question for me—an official answer, I mean. But I want to pose the question from a layman’s perspective. And I want the answers to be from a layman’s perspective, too (though I welcome comments from the experts on this).

So, with all of that as a prelude to question number three, here it is: Where is the nastiest, dirtiest, most unattractive spot—in your opinion--on any of Georgia’s waterways? I would really like to hear from you folks on the Chattahoochee and Peachtree Creek. But also you people on the Savannah, Oconee, and etc. Send pictures if you like. Just be very specific about the location. Feel free to really vent on the subject.

So, again, I am simply trying to start a little discussion; stir up some friendly controversy.

And speaking of stirring up some controversy, I regret that I have allowed April 1st (April Fool’s Day) to slip away without a post. I had planned to post something about how the world record for the biggest Largemouth Bass ever caught had finally been broken….by me.

This may sound a little lame to you non-fisherpersons, but I assure you that it would have been no small deal had there been those who took the claim seriously (had they taken the bait, so to speak). I might well have been putting myself in actual physical danger, not to mention the abuse that my blog might have been subjected to. So, anyway, take this as a warning for April Fool’s Day next year.

It was going to be a great post, too, if I may say so myself. It was going to be full of literary references from the great works of angler-oriented literature.

Call me Eddie. We’re gonna need a bigger boat. That kind of thing.

Incidentally, the world record for a largemouth bass (the official state fish of Georgia) is twenty-two pounds and four ounces. The fish was caught in 1932, out of a Georgia farm pond by a man named George Washington Perry. That record still stands.

What follows are a couple of book reviews that I wrote for Southern Distinction Magazine back in 2005.

Sowbelly-The Obsessive Quest for the World-Record Largemouth Bass by Monte
Burke; published March, 2005 by Dutton Press; $23.95; 237


Still Life With Brook Trout by John Gierach;
published April, 2005 by Simon & Schuster; $23.00; 213

Reviewed by Eddie Suttles

Attention all non-fisherpersons. Do not assume that a review of two new books about fishing does not concern you. As all good fishermen (and women) will tell you, fishing is about so much more than, well, just fishing. From the Bible
(“You will become fishers of men”, Jonah and the whale, etc.) to Moby Dick to
Hemingway’s ‘Old Man and the Sea’ to ‘A River Runs Through It’, angling has
served—and serves—many purposes.

Through the ages, fishing has provided man a means to provide food for his table, a contemplative hobby and a competitive sport, a metaphor for saving men’s souls or explaining the universe, a basis for story telling, a reason for camaraderie, and a means to get out of church, work and marriages.

As the two titles reviewed here will attest as regards the human condition, fishing covers all the bases, from the quiet, reflective and in-tune with nature mind of the philosopher outdoorsman, to the obsessive, bank-busting lunacy of the fanatic.
Sowbelly, by Forbes Magazine staff writer Monte Burke is a strictly business look at the lengths to which some die-hard anglers—and even states—will go to beat the record for the biggest largemouth bass. Sowbelly refers to the mythical pig-like girth of the current world-record.

There is a plaque located at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame that lists some interesting Georgia sports facts and firsts. On this plaque one will find the name of one George Washington Perry. In the spring of 1932, Perry, then a poor twenty-year-old farmer from McRae, Georgia, skipped plowing his field one morning due to inclement weather. Instead, he and a friend went fishing.

That morning, Perry landed the biggest largemouth bass ever recorded, weighing in at twenty-two pounds and four ounces. Perry took his monster fish to a local general store, had it weighed, then did what any poor farmer in those days would have done with a fish that size. He took it home to feed his family. No photographs. No posting on the internet.

Seventy-two years later, his record still stands. The largemouth bass is, incidentally, the state fish of Georgia. Some of the accounts in Sowbelly, though engaging and well written, are almost painful to read. As Burke travels the country (with fishing detours to Japan and Cuba), he encounters a fishing subculture of fame and fortune seekers who are obsessed with breaking Perry’s record. Lying, cheating, bankruptcy, divorce, broken friendships and ruined reputations are common. Even violence is not unheard of in these circles.

Burke, being a business writer, would be remiss if he didn’t point out that the bass fishing industry in the United States alone is a $12 billion a year business. That’s Billion. He also discusses a nationwide group of anglers who formed a group that, before it folded, collectively referred to itself as the Big Bass Record Club.

For a number of years, the Club posted an $8 million reward for anyone who could prove to have broken Perry’s record. Something like that might explain some of
the craziness that Burke describes in his book.

Sowbelly is enthralling, in much the same way that watching one of the seedier daytime TV talk shows might be. The book was recently selected by Barnes & Noble Booksellers for their prestigious Discover New Authors program, which attests to its overall merit.

Burke’s book is an interesting read, if only for what it says about human nature. On the other hand, this reviewer cannot imagine wanting to actually go fishing with most of the characters that Burke describes. This is full-contact bass fishing.

At the other end of the fishing spectrum is the latest book by fishing philosopher John Gierach. Gierach is the author of fourteen previous books, mostly on fly-fishing. His titles include the much acclaimed ‘Standing in a River Waving a Stick’ and ‘Sex, Death, and Fly-Fishing’, both of which were national bestsellers.

Gierach’s writing is literary in every sense of the word, and it is easy to understand why he has such a huge following. His prose, in both its style and subject matter, is
reminiscent of the late Georgia author James Kilgo. Gierach is philosophical without going out of his way to draw the reader’s attention to it. He also writes about fishing without bothering to explain anything that he is talking about—you either know what a yellow marabou underwing is, or you can look it up. That said, though, Gierach does not write condescendingly to the uninitiated, but instead invites the reader to come along with him as he engages in an activity that he obviously considers pure joy.

Gierach combines his literary prose with observations on matters ranging from human behavior to public conservation policy. He rounds out his writing with a genuine wit that is guaranteed to get a laugh. Annie Dillard and Janisse Ray, meet
Izaak Walton and Bill Dance.

The best part about being a first-time reader of Geirach—as this reviewer is—is the sense of discovery one has at finding an especially good writer. And the knowledge that he has another fourteen books to look forward to reading. It’s like finding a really good new fishing hole—one that you are willing to share with others. Here is a guy with whom I would like to go fishing.

Burke and Gierach’s new books provide an enjoyable and even fascinating glimpse into the mysterious workings of the angler’s mind—obsessive, philosophical, and much in between.

Some other books you might want to consider: Anything by Jimmy Jacobs (editor of Georgia Outdoorsman)

The Compleat Angler by Izaak Walton

Real Men Read. And fish.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Coming Author Events in Georgia

First, and of certainly minor consequence, my new website will hopefully be up soon. Again, my goal is to give book buffs in Georgia a one-stop spot to look for author signings, writer’s conferences, and other literary events taking place throughout the State. I will be drawing from many different sources (at this point, some 200 plus that I have accumulated over the past ten years). I hope to update it at least once or twice a week. Hope. In addition, the plan is to also include book reviews, author interviews, and venue reviews on the site.

You can link to the site now. But there isn’t anything there yet. So, here are a few of the events taking place soon that might be of interest. Incidentally, this past weekend I took a cursory look at some half dozen sources for information about upcoming book signings in Georgia (out of 200 plus sources). It yielded some 150 author and other literary events taking place in April, May and June. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. I also heard from someone affiliated with the Dahlonega Literary Festival (

The Athens, Georgia Writer’s Chapbook

April 3 (tomorrow)—Terry Kay
Townsend Prize award-winner and Georgia Writer’s Hall of Fame inductee Terry Kay will discuss and autograph copies of his latest novel The Book of Marie (2007, Mercer University Press) at the Book Exchange on Canton Road in Marietta. The program begins at 6:30 PM. Reservations are required and there is a $5 admission fee. Call the Book Exchange at 770-427-4848 or visit them on line at for more information.

Kay is the author of the award-winning novel To Dance with the White Dog, Taking Lottie Home, and Valley of Light, among others.

Attention all Louisiana Transplants!

April 5—Laura Knorr
Georgia illustrator Knorr will read from and autograph her new children’s book, A Isn’t For Fox: An Isn’t Alphabet (Sleeping Bear Press). Knorr is also the illustrator for P is for Pelican: A Louisiana Alphabet and Papa Noell—A Louisiana Christmas Story. She is a tremendous artist and an outstanding storyteller. Laura will be appearing at Borders Books and Music, in the Alps Shopping Center, Athens. The event begins at 11 a.m. The store can be reached at 706-583-8647.

Laura will also be appearing at Borders Books and Music at the Mall of Georgia later that day, beginning at 4 pm. The Borders at Mall of Georgia can be reached at 678-482-0872.

Visit Atlanta’s Biggest Indy at their New Location in One of the City’s Greatest Communities

April 5—Pulitzer Prize-Winning (Georgia) Poet Natasha Trethewey
Presents Best New Poets 2007, featuring poets Catherine Pierce, David Welch, and Laura Newbern. The event takes place at Wordsmiths Books at its new location at 141 East Trinity Place in Decatur. The event begins at 2 pm. For more information, call Wordsmiths at 404-378-7166, or visit their website at (true bibliophiles, plan on staying a while). I haven’t been to Wordsmiths since they opened up the new place, but am very anxious to go visit.

At the Carter Center

April 6—Dorothy Allison and Elizabeth Anderson
Charis Books & More teams up with the Jimmy Carter Library to present a little Literary Rabble-Rousing featuring the author of Cavedweller and Bastard Out of Carolina. The event begins at 6:30 pm. Call 404-524-0304 for more information or visit Charis Books at Both venues located in Atlanta’s Little Five Points District.

Georgia Writer’s Hall of Fame

April 10 and11—Georgia Writer’s Hall of Fame Writer’s Salon.
At the Georgia Center in Athens. 706-542-3879 for information.

Also in Atlanta’s L5P

April 18—Herschel Walker
Collegiate football’s greatest running back in forever, will be autographing his new book Breaking Free: My Life with Dissociative Identity Disorder. At the Carter Center and presented by A Cappella Books. For more information, visit the Carter Library at 404-865-7100, or A Cappella Books at The signing will take place between 7-9 pm. HEAD’S UP: this is a book signing only and is a ticketed event.

Mr. Walker will also be autographing copies of his book earlier in the day at the University of Georgia Bookstore in Athens. The signing will be from 12:30 to 2:30 and, again, the author will ONLY be autographing copies of his new book. For information, call the UGA bookstore at 706-542-7239.

Presented by the Georgia Center for the Book

April 24—Townsend Awards
Wordsmiths teams up with the Georgia Center for the Book to present this year’s Townsend Award ceremony beginning at 7:30 at the Old Decatur Courthouse (great place for a wedding reception, too). This year’s nominee’s include Pearl Cleage (Baby Brother’s Blues), Bob Cupp (The Edict), Renee Dodd (A Cabinet of Wonders), Jim Grimsley (Forgiveness), Greg Johnson (Women I’ve Known), Sheri Joseph (Stray), Terry Kay (The Book of Marie), Nathan McCall (Them), Jack Pendarvis (Your Body is Changing) and Karin Slaughter (Beyond Reach). The reception is free and there will be a cash bar. For more information, contact the Georgia Center for the Book at 404-370-8450 ext 2225 or visit them online at Or call Wordsmiths Books.

The Margaret Mitchell House and Center for Literature

May 14—Tony Horwitz
This is jumping ahead a little bit, but don’t miss this. Horwitz is the author of thConfederates in the Attic, among others. He is also the spouse of Geraldine Brooks (People of the Book). He will be discussing his new book, A Voyage Long and Short. Ought to be good. Visit the Margaret Mitchell House at for more details.

As always, events may change. Contact the venues to verify times, dates, and other details.