|The second panel was on "Epic Fiction," which I can't say I know a lot about except the publisher tells me my novel, An Honorable German, is an epic so I guess that makes me an expert. (Not). There were only two of us authors on the panel. The other author was a young woman named Amy Greene who is from Appalachia and writes about the people there based on all the wonderful stories she has been told over time by relatives and friends - the classic Southern oral storytelling tradition out of which so many Southern writers come from, including your servant. Of course, part of the reason we become writers is to get away from our relatives who won't shut up. |
Her novel, Bloodroot, was published by Alfred A. Knopf, which is quite the coup for a first novelist. I was very envious because her publisher has paid to send her all over the country on a book tour whereas my publisher wouldn't pay a nickel to see an earthquake. She gave a reading and I leaned over to her after she finished and said it was beautiful, which it was.
Her writing is lyrical and captures the time and place and is haunting in its exposition of life and love, of loss and death - themes which run through so much Southern writing, (I have some thoughts on why Southerner writers tend toward these themes which I will write about later).
I think novelists look at other novels in a much different way than those rational people who aren't novelists. How the other novelist handles the basics and controls the language is something I notice a lot. How did the other writer shift the point of view from first person to third person or to narrator omniscience? Was it smooth or did he/she trip over it? It takes a lot of skill to do this so the reader doesn't notice the "hand-off" but understands it has taken place.
Amy's characters both define themselves and speak in the dialect of Appalachia. I can say from personal experience that writing in dialect is very hard to do because you can't actually write the entire story in dialect or readers would get tired and you would lose them. You have to create the illusion that the story is written in dialect and that takes a sure hand. Amy has that sure hand. She has the gift of words and will be one of the best of a new generation of authentic Southern writers.
These are my impressions from hearing her read but I'm sure I will feel the same way when I've read her book. We're swapping books and I look forward to reading hers. Her husband, Adam, is a sportswriter and I had a wonderful conversation with them after our panel was over and again the next day.
I was more relaxed on the second panel than I was on the first. While we were waiting for the audience to get settled, we had a very literary discussion between us or at least I hope the audience thought our animated discussion was high minded and literary.
We were actually discussing who was to ask the question of the audience at the end of the panel about the door prize. The moderator gave us a book, which she handed to Amy, and said one of us had to come up with the question and then ask it at the end of the panel. The person who answered correctly received the prize.
Amy said she had not been on a panel like this before and so I should ask the question. "This is only the second time I've done this," I said. "I have no idea what I'm doing."
"Yes, but you're smart." (Like she isn't. I mean she's on a panel discussing a brilliant novel she wrote).
"You've been on the New York Times bestseller list with your first novel in hardback," I said. (This makes me terribly jealous).
"That was only for a few weeks," she said. "You do it." I told her I just looked smart because I'm tall and was wearing a navy blue suit. "Good," she said, giving me the book at which time the program began.
by Amy Greene
Shadow Divers: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II
|Shadow Divers: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II by Robert Kurson|
|U-Boat Operations of the Second World War: Career Histories, U1-U510 by Kenneth G. Wynn|
Why Me, Lord? The Experience of a US Navy Armed Guard Officer in World War II’s Convoy PQ 17 on the Murmansk Run by William A. Carter
Why Me, Lord? The Experience of a US Navy Armed Guard Officer in World War II’s Convoy PQ 17 on the Murmansk Run
by William A. Carter
We Were Pirates: A Torpedoman's Pacific War
by Robert Schultz and James Shell
The Attack on the Liberty: The Untold Story of Israel's Deadly 1967 Attack on a US Spy Ship by James Scott
|James Scott’s father was a young Ensign aboard the Liberty but rather than detract, this animates the narrative because of the personal correspondence James was privy to. If he is trying to tell his father’s story or vindicate his father in some way, that isn’t evident. |
There are many impressive things about this book but the most impressive to me is this: Mr. Scott does not speculate on what people were thinking or why the Israelis attacked the Liberty or who ordered it because these facts are simply not available. The attack wasn’t a mistake. Someone ordered that it be done. The ship was torpedoed by Israeli patrol boats, and repeatedly strafed by Israeli Air Force jets. The ship itself was flying its colors the entire time and, like all warships in peacetime, had its identification numbers painted in large letters on the hull. The Israelis knew this was an American ship.
As a journalist, Mr. Scott presents only those facts he could correlate from several reputable sources. This is refreshing.
I can say that what made me the angriest was not the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty. It was how our government treated the officers and crew. The details are in the book so I won’t go through them. Suffice it to say that we as a nation make lots of promises to the young men and women who join the armed forces and if they are seriously injured and disabled, the government treats them like beggars.
The Attack on the Liberty: The Untold Story of Israel's Deadly 1967 Attack on a US Spy Ship
by James Scott