VOL. 7 | NO. 34 | Saturday, August 16, 2014
Author Support Key to Booksellers’ Success
BONNY C. MILLARD | The Ledger
Building relationships with customers and forming partnerships with other organizations is a key ingredient to keeping Union Ave Books vibrant in the Knoxville community.
Brandon Rogers’ “Literary Hallows of the South Vol. 1” adorns Union Ave, celebrating great Southern writers, including Tennessee Williams, Thomas Wolfe and William Faulkner.
(The Ledger/Chase Malone)
Flossie McNabb, who owns the store with her daughter, Bunnie Presswood, caters to both writers and readers in choosing events and activities. And she is open to offering new opportunities for her customers, including a book club for Southern Literature that will start later this month.
The store partnered with the Knox County Public Library to bring Elizabeth Gilbert, author of “Eat, Pray, Love,” to the Tennessee Theatre last fall.
Author readings are well-attended events at the bookstore, featuring regional and national novelists, poets and essayists. Last week, Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly, nationally known writers – husband and wife – read from their first co-written book, “The Tilted World,” a novel of moonshine and murder set in the south in 1927.
The Knoxville Writers’ Guild helps nurture local writers in their creative endeavors, and members come out to support those writers.
“Our local author signings are some of the very best,” says McNabb, who often sells books at KWG events. “Our community is so supportive of writers.”
Writers and readers, alike, participate in these events as well as the book club, Bookaholics Book Group, created when the store opened.
McNabb is excited about the Southern Literature Book Group, which will be led by long-time friend Alan Sims, who writes the highly regarded blog “Inside of Knoxville” and lives downtown. Sims met McNabb many years ago when she worked and facilitated a similar group for Davis-Kidd Booksellers in Nashville.
This recently retired middle school librarian says a bit of serendipity occurred when he was cleaning out years-old paperwork and discovered the original group’s email list.
The open group will meet the third Thursday each month to discuss both new selections and classics from the giants of Southern writing. The first book will be Franklin and Fennelly’s novel, followed in September by Walker Percy’s “The Moviegoer.”
During the club’s organizational period, a local artist brought in paintings of Southern writers with a unique twist. Brandon Rogers calls his collection, “Literary Hallows of the South Vol. 1.” Individual pieces in the collection have names such as “Saint Flannery of Georgia” and “Carson the Sullen.”
In an email, Rogers describes his work, “The project is inspired by my secular appreciation for religious art and icons. I spent a long time resenting the South and being a Southerner, especially during my teenage years. Reading books by these authors really helped me reconcile that supposed stigma. The pieces are all on carpenter refuse from the renovation of the Temple-Pittman House in downtown Knoxville.”
Sims says Rogers’s timing with his artwork is appropriate.
“It’s just kind of funny the divergence of things,” Sims says, adding the bookstore does “support a lot of local writers but also local artists. You don’t really see local art in a chain store.”