Chapter 11 Books: Your Neighborhood Book Blog


Chapter 11 Bookstore is an independent bookstore chain with 4 locations in Atlanta, Georgia and surrounding cities. Our online site is Customers can browse our inventory, order books, CDs, and DVDs online, and read details about author appearances. Visit our blog for reviews, opinions, and news about books, music, and movies.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Around the South with Karen White

WIN a signed copy of Pieces of the Heart
or The Color of Light!
Instructions at end of interview.

Karen White's books have been called, "Warmly Southern and deeply moving," by Deborah Smith, author of Charming Grace. Her two most recent novels, The Color of Light and Pieces of the Heart, have won her more fans and brought her national recognition. Karen lives in metro Atlanta and has been a friend of Chapter 11* for a long time. I recently caught up with Karen and asked her questions about her books and being a Southern author.

Chapter 11: Did you know you always wanted to be a writer?

Karen White: Not really. I've always been a voracious reader, and I was always told by my teachers that I could write. But the physical act of writing (not the creating side, but the part about putting the words on paper) was excruciating for me. It's weird, because it's not really hand-to-eye coordination because I've played the piano quite well all of my life. It's just that I have a really hard time physically writing and to this day my horrid handwriting is a testament to this fact. It wasn't until I learned to type when I was a sophomore in high school that I finally found a way to write the words as quickly as my mind could come up with them. That was really a turning point for me; when I discovered the joy of writing. I was a business major in school and then worked in the business world until I had my first child. It wasn't till after that when I discovered that now I could physically write that I actually had time to write, too. And thus my first book was born.

Ch11: What’s your earliest memory of a book?

KW: When I was in third grade, my family moved to Venezuela (my father was with Exxon). There was a small, English-language library at our club (right next to the pool) and I discovered it by accident one afternoon. The librarian introduced me to Nancy Drew--and I think I read through the entire library's collection of them within a week. I was addicted! The first one I read was The Bungalow Mystery, and I don't think I came up for air once I'd started on the first page until I closed the book! It was very frustrating to have to wait for our next trip to the States for me to buy another book since the library didn't have every copy, but that was the beginning of my book addiction that hasn't (thankfully!) abated to this day.

Ch11: What authors do you find really inspiring?

KW: That would be a very long list! At the top would be Pat Conroy, Margaret Mitchell, Diana Gabaldon. I would also have to add Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner) and Jodi Picoult (My Sister's Keeper). Both of these hugely talented authors get added to my 'hall of fame'--these books stayed with me long after I'd closed the last page---a sign of a truly remarkable book and a gifted writer. I'm in awe.

Ch11: Your books all have southern settings that are important to the plot (The Color of Light in the South Carolina low country and Pieces of the Heart in the North Carolina mountains). How do you choose your settings?

KW: I write what I know (isn't that the advice all writers are given?). My parents were both born and raised in Mississippi, and my father's family has lived in the South for over two hundred years. Despite having lived all over the world because of my father's job, I have always considered myself a Southerner. Even while living in Europe, I would look forward to my visits to my grandmother's house in Mississippi--to see my aunts, uncles, cousins and other relatives. These visits were always a high point in my life growing up. I guess it was only natural that I would write about Southern settings and people since this is what I feel I know best.

Ch11: What defines “Southern?”

KW: Well, it's not Northern or Western. Seriously--read Tom Wolfe, Harper Lee, Pat Conroy and William Faulkner for a better definition of "Southern." I've always tried to write about what I see---and that would be interesting southern characters drawn from real life. I mean, my grandmother's neighbor (a man) was called Honeydew (not his given name). He lived with this moniker his entire adult life because his wife always started her sentences with "Honey, do...." and it stuck. I'm not making this up and he will eventually find his way into one of my books. Southern people have a collective history different from any other region in this country (just like their accents!)---and their idiosyncrasies and beloved peculiarities are testament to this fact. I've lived all over the place and I feel I can make the observation that people down South do tend to be more polite, a tad more eccentric, and a little bit proud of their family heritage (travel to Charleston if you don't believe this). And they don't mind being written about!

Ch11: If you didn’t make money writing, what non-artistic career would you choose for yourself?

KW: Who says I make money from writing? I worked as an operations manager for a software development firm before I left the workforce to stay home with my firstborn. It was one of those multitasking jobs where I had to have a finger in every aspect of the business which I found very stimulating if not completely fulfilling. I suppose I could do that again--but I couldn't imagine not writing! But if I had to start all over, I would do something with historical restoration of old buildings. I'm obsessed with it and all of my books have an old house or building, so I might as well do it!

Ch11: What’s your next book about?

KW: My next book (Learning to Breathe--March 7, 2007) is set in rural Louisiana and focuses on the youngest of five grown sisters, Brenna O'Brien. Brenna lives on the surface of her life, never delving too deeply into it for fear of being disappointed. She collects unopened war letters, liking the way they feel, as if she is holding in her hand possibilities of what might be. When she discovers an entire mailbag filled with old letters from a WWII soldier who still lives in her town, she uncovers an ill-fated love story and unravels a secret from her own past. This sets in motion a chain of events that forces her to examine the assumptions that underpin her life.

Enter to WIN one signed copy of Pieces of the Heart or The Color of Light.

E-mail with your NAME and MAILING ADDRESS to be entered to win!!! Contest runs through October 10th. The winners will be announced a few days later.

Buy a signed copy of The Color of Light

Buy a signed copy of Pieces of the Heart

Thursday, September 14, 2006

VideoHound's Golden Movie Retriever 2007

I just received a copy of VideoHound's Golden Movie Retriever 2007, and I've been spending the afternoon thumbing through it. So many movies, so little time. But this guide will help me sort through the bad and find the good.

VideoHound is a comprehensive and up-to-date guide to movies on VHS and DVD that distinguishes itself from its peers by the quality and comprehensiveness of its entries as as the originality of its index categories. Readers will enjoy a 900+ page list of titles A-Z with over 27,000 reviews, including no-bone-"Woof!" to four-bone rating, as well as alternate title, year released, rating, synopsis/review, songs, run time, black and white or color, format, country of origin, cast, director, writer, cinematographer, composer/lyricist, and awards, enough to satisfy even the most demanding film trivia collector.

What more can a film buff ask for? VideoHound editor Jim Craddock has gove above and beyond the normal call of duty with his comprehensive and witty, inclusive, and innovative indices. For example, you could find Full Metal Jacket under the category "Military: Marines" or "Suicide;" Footloose appears under both "Dance Fever" and "Teen Angst." Some of the quirkier new categories for 2007 include "Grim Reaper," "Female Spies," "Exorcism and Exorcists," and "A River Runs Through the Plot."

Before you go to the video store or purchase your next DVD from Chapter 11*, make sure you consult your new best friend, VideoHound.

Buy VideoHound's Golden Movie Retriever 2007 from and save 25%!

- Mike Sussman

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

On Glass Books Of The Widely-Shut Eyes, or FORCING IT THROUGH

I’ll admit: I’m a glutton for literary punishment. My favorite books are usually the ones that require three Berlitz language tapes and a serious sense of self-hatred. After all, if the author writes as though the reader’s a wetnap primed for abuse, then I guess, as the reader of said authors, I’m guilty as charged.

As such, when a copy of Gordon Dahlquist’s The Glass Books Of The Dream Eaters arrived on my desk, I was hyperactive (even more so than usual). A monstrosity of a book in size and apparently in scope; I don’t know that for fact, though. I plowed my way through several books over the weekend, including Bookslut favorite Small Acts of Sex and Electricity, and shelved (har har a little book seller humor there) reading a few others, including the worship-worthy Kate Bornstein’s newest book (which has me so excited I feel as though I’ve overdosed on Jolly Ranchers and Pepsi Jazz), to begin trudging through the tome. The back cover (at least, the back cover of the Advance Reader’s Copy) quotes author Diana Gabaldon as saying the novel is “deftly executed” and “relentlessly inventive”.

In the course of my weekend, I managed to make it about 200 pages into Glass Books. Thus far, I’ve found a first novel that’s begging to be Proustian in its flowery (ANOTHER literary joke! I kill me!), hallucinogenic prose style, but that, when distanced from the page-to-page minutiae, lacks any real sense of character.

For those unfamiliar, the publisher's summary of Glass Books reads as such:

"Determined to find out why her engagement to Roger Bascombe was abruptly terminated, Celeste Temple disguises herself to follow her erstwhile fianc‚ to forbidding Harschmont Manor, which becomes a terrifying gate into a seductive and shocking world linked to a terrifying conspiracy.

Basically the plot breaks down like this:

Man leaves woman. Woman says “nope not gonna happen” and stalks man. Woman ends up on train with masked people who are, of course, sexual deviants in some form or fashion and who act like she’s been there all along. Someone named Prince is important, and then sings “When Doves Cry”.

All right, the last bit about the song hasn’t actually happened, but I have about 700 pages left to go, so it very well could. All this while, I can’t help but feel that it seems apparent Glass Books is nothing more than an overhyped expenditure of paper-and-ink that just reheats Kubrick’s “Eyes Wide Shut” like so much Tuesday night T.V. dinner, and then I remind myself: if a film’s released and no one sees it, copping the plot for a novel isn’t plagiarism.

The problem with being a literary masochist is that, in the end, I have to have payoff. There has to be something that makes coming back for the abuse worth it, and thus far I just feel stupid for sitting in front of my overflowing-with-new-stuff bookshelf, waiting for Colonel Doctor Zelig the Fourth to wear his party mask, or some other such going on in Glass Books.

So then, why can’t I just put it down? I could stop this whole thing in its tracks, move forward and onward and upward to other words. Instead, no, I keep plugging onward, forcing it through page after page of literary marshmallow fluff-topped Diet cola.

What is this need that we, as readers, have to finish a book, even when we KNOW better? What’s the last book you MADE yourself finish, and was it worth it? Leave a comment and let us know, and you'll automatically be entered to win...well, to win a GOOD book. The definition of "good" to be determined.

I’ll tell you when I finish Glass Books. And I’ll be submitting receipts for the days of my life I won’t get back.

--Russ Marshalek

Monday, September 11, 2006

Coffey and Margaret Atwood

Last week, Chapter 11* customer Beth Coffey posted these comments about Margaret Atwood on her blog, A Cup of Coffey. We think you'll find her post and review interesting. Thanks for the plug, Beth!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Pinch Me!

I’m going to hear Margaret Atwood tonight night at Emory University. In case you’re unfamiliar with her [and please don't tell me if you've never heard of her], she wrote Alias Grace, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Blind Assassin, Surfacing, Cat’s Eye, Lady Oracle, Life Before Man, The Robber Bride, and many more. I’ve loved her books for more than twenty-five years. Tonight she’s going to talk about her latest novel,
The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus.

From Publishers Weekly:

Drawing on a range of sources, in addition to The Odyssey, Atwood scripts the narrative of Penelope, the faithful and devoted wife of Odysseus and her 12 maids, who were killed upon the master's return. Atwood proposes striking interpretations of her characters that challenge the patriarchal nature of Greek mythology. The chapters transition between the firsthand account of Penelope and the chorus of maids as listeners are taken from Penelope's early life to her afterlife. Laural Merlington charmingly delivers the witty and perceptive Penelope with realistic inflection and emphasis. Some of her vocal caricatures seem over the top, but most voices maintain a resemblance to our perceptions of these mythic people. The maids are presented as a saddened chorus by a cloning of Merlington's voice. These dark figures speak straightforwardly in their accusations of Penelope and Odysseus, while, at other times, they make use of rhyming. This format works well, though sometimes the cadence and rhyming scheme are off beat. This benefits the production by creating an eerie resonance and haunting demeanor that enhances this engaging tale.

I can’t wait to be in the same room with Margaret Atwood. I need to bask in her brilliance right now. I’ve been working on several short stories this summer, and last week I came down with a nasty case of the I’m-a-talentless-hackitis. I hope that hearing Ms. Atwood talk will inoculate me from my inner demons. I need inspiration and some ass-kicking; too much is riding on these stories.

Margaret Atwood. Isn’t she lovely?

Another night in the presence of literary greatness. T. Coraghessan Boyle in July, Richard Ford this fall. See, folks, we ain’t illiterate and culture-free down here in the South, even during college football season.

The purchase link used for The Penelopiad is for a local bookstore chain. Support the independents and buy a copy — or seven — from Chapter 11 Books. Powell's Books isn't the only independent selling online, kids.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Book Fest Photo Recap Part Two

And we're back with the second and final part of our two-day Chapter 11* Books Decatur Book Festival Photo Wrap-Up. Sure, some other sites and blogs have more amusing photos, but during the festival we were too busy actually working, and we loved every minute of it. Here's the last of our choice photos from the Labor Day gathering of authors and book lovers.

THE man himself, Michael Connelly. His event and signing was SO well hotly anticipated and eagerly attended that it required three security guards for crowd control.

The OTHER man of the hour, Chapter 11* Books infamous webmaster, Mike "The" Sussman. His ongoing quote was "I wasn't even SUPPOSED TO BE HERE today!", after being drafted to work at the Chapter 11* Books tent on Sunday due to overwhelming attendance. He had fun, though. Or something close to it.
Carrie Dumas and Valerie Boyd were just two of the authors whose books we just could NOT keep in stock. For every one we replenished, two flew off the table.

A brief shower temporarily dampens the party. Though it passes quickly, Russ still finds it necessary to run in such a fashion
AJC political cartoonist Mike Luckovich takes a minute to sign some promotional posters we later raffled off.

One of the most anticipated, hot-button authors we had, Ray Suarez, gets into a debate even while signing books.

There you have it. If you came out-it was good to see you! If not-LOOK AT WHAT YOU MISSED! Hopefully you're already marking your calendars for next year's Labor Day-no excuses this time. Thanks for the fun, the conversation, the debates over Dumbledore, and for everyone who bought books based around our recommendations (and then thanked us for them), thank you and you're quite welcome. We can only hope you had as much fun as we did.

Chapter 11* Books would like to wish Steve Berry a speedy recovery and extend the largest thanks possible to the Decatur Book Festival committee and volunteers, the city of Decatur,the AJC, Target (for the free water), all the vendors, every single one of our customers and friends who ventured into the heat to visit us, and, MOST IMPORTANTLY:

the Decatur Square Starbucks.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Once upon a time...there was a Book Fest

Well, folks, that was something else entirely. In the course of the Decatur Book Festival taking over the downtown Decatur square we laughed, we cried, we got rained on, and we bought freakin' awesome t-shirts.

(No, really, the Decatur Book Festival t-shirts are pretty much the coolest thing ever.)

Ambushed. Swamped. Overwhelmed. So much fun. So. Much. Fun.

Here's part one of our Chapter 11* Books Decatur Book Festival Photo Recap.
Yeah, we're late, but hey, we get to slack SOME TIME, right?

The view from the awake side of 7 a.m. Saturday morning, aka "oh, wow, this is really happening".

It's like the circus going up-the Information Tent gets itself set-up.

Oh, the early morning calm left us with little idea as to what we were in for.

Post-its are your friends.

Russ, who apparently can't discern between Decatur, Illinois and Decatur, Georgia.

Clockwise, from middle: Sonny Brewer, Tom Franklin, and some guy from the AJC. They were instructed to "look unimpressed". Authors never listen.

The NEW new novel Tom Franklin wrote, aka Russ's signed copy of Tom Franklin's Smonk. Seriously, though, this was a highlight, right here.

The security guards, who had to (almost literally) BEAT people away from best-selling thriller author Michael Connelly's appearance Saturday afternoon decided to see what all the fuss was about. Imagine that: cops reading Connelly. Either ironic or fitting.

This picture is courtesy of Russ taking a photo of the Atlana Journal photographerwho was taking a photo of the Chapter 11* Booth. Post-modern!

(see photo below)

And, finally

You probably saw this picture, if you flipped open your Sunday AJC. A girl enjoys a relaxing bean-bag + book experience at the Chapter 11* Books tent at the Decatur Book Fest. Chapter 11* Books: all publicity is good publicity, but great publicity involving cute kids is even better.

(photo from the Atlanta Journal)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Football Recommendations

Are you ready for some football? Here are some of our pigskin recommendations.

Friday Night LightsBissinger, H. G.
List Price $7.99
Our Price $5.99
You Save $2.00

InvinciblePapale, Vince/ Millman, Chad
List Price $12.95
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The UndefeatedDent, Jim/ Switzer, Barry (FRW)
List Price $14.95
Our Price $11.21
You Save $3.74

The Junction BoysDent, Jim
List Price $13.95
Our Price $10.46
You Save $3.49

T. O.Owens, Terrell/ Rosenhaus, Jason
List Price $25.00
Our Price $18.75
You Save $6.25

NamathKriegel, Mark
List Price $16.00
Our Price $12.00
You Save $4.00

Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer (Signed)Warren St. John
List Price $24.00
Our Price $18.00
You Save $6.00

Wins, Losses, And LessonsHoltz, Lou
List Price $25.95
Our Price $19.46
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Official 2006 National Football League Record & Fact BookNot Available (NA)
List Price $17.95
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Last CoachBarra, Allen
List Price $15.95
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The Lion in AutumnFitzpatrick, Frank
List Price $14.00
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Cowher PowerEyring, Donna (EDT)
List Price $27.95
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John Madden's Heroes of FootballMadden, John/ Gutman, Bill
School And Library
List Price $18.99
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Vince Dooley's Tales from the 1980 Georgia BulldogsDooley, Vince/ Giles, Blake
List Price $19.95
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Echoes of Georgia FootballSamelson, Ken (EDT)/ Dooley, Vince (FRW)
List Price $19.95
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What It Means to Be a BulldogBarnhart, Tony (EDT)/ Dooley, Vince
Our Price $27.95

Stadium StoriesVan Brimmer, Adam
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Kim King's Tales From The Georgia Tech SidelineKing, Kim/ Wilkinson, Jack
List Price $19.95
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Remember the TitansStarring Denzel Washington, Will Patton. Directed by Boaz YakinUnrated Extended
List Price $19.99
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Knute Rockne - All AmericanStarring Pat O'Brien . Directed by Lloyd Bacon
List Price $19.97
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Friday Night LightsStarring Billy Bob Thornton, Tim McGraw. Directed by Peter BergWidescreen
List Price $14.98
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Little GiantsStarring Rick Moranis. Directed by Duwayne Dunham
List Price $14.97
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The Longest YardStarring Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Burt Reynolds. Directed by Peter SegalWidescreen Version
List Price $19.99
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Any Given SundayStarring Al Pacino, Cameron Diaz. Directed by Oliver StoneSpecial Edition
DVD [Widescreen]
List Price $14.96
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Rites of Autumn - Complete 10-Episode Series
List Price $29.98
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The ReplacementsStarring Keanu Reeves, Gene Hackman. Directed by Howard Deutch
DVD [Widescreen]
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Friday, September 01, 2006

Does the Potter kid BITE IT?




And, if you HAVEN'T YET, check out CHAPTER 11 BOOKS* at the Decatur Book Festival, in tent 91 right in your path by the Info Booth

Guide to the Decatur Book Festival, Part Five

Chapter 11* Books presents:

Your Guide to the Decatur Book Festival: Part 5

Well, Friday, September 1st, is here. And you know what that means...something about books...

Tuesday we told you about Jack Pendarvis' The Mysterious Secret Of The Valuable Treasure. In the grand tradition of books keeping me up, I read the collection cover-to-cover last night, and found the entire thing to be a series of witty, self-deprecating musings on, amongst other things, Southern culture and the book industry at large.

To wit, from the collection's title story:

"...The publishing industry should have shut down years ago, having surfeited its pragmatic use impeccable logic, publishers should subsidize authors for NOT writing, so that the overwhelming surplus of literature could be brought, eventually, under control."

As you know if you've been following, Pendarvis will be appearing in panel along with another Chapter 11* favorite, Smonk author Tom Franklin, on the Courthouse Stage on Saturday at 3pm.

All week we've been telling you why you should visit the Chapter 11* Books tent, located, literally, in the middle of your walking path (because it is our intention to trip you) near the Information Booth. Book giveaways, raffles, bag-stuffers, book recommendations, Harry Potter (yes, Harry Potter), all this and more is yours at our tent.

Now, here is the best reason for you to stop by and say "hi" to us:

Exclusive pre-sales and promo giveaways from, amongst others, Michael Connelly.

You've been stopping in the stores to ask about this, and, YES, it is true: appearing on The Courthouse Stage at 1:45 pm Saturday, best-selling legal thriller author Michael Connelly will be exclusively selling his forthcoming novel Echo Park at the Chapter 11* Books tent. We've got his older releases, too, and we'll also be giving you everything you could possibly want to get signed by Connelly himself.

And that about wraps it up. Remember, a few simple notes:

--Wear comfortable clothes and walking shoes. We are taking over Decatur.

--Bring a friend, or a date, or a friend's date. This is a socializing event, not some stuffy "I am going to sit and whisper in hushed voices about Dickenson" sort of thing. The authors are there for your amusement...and not the other way around.

--There will be live music, activities, games, and vendors of all persuasions. The Decatur Book Fest isn't a five minute stop-and-go. This is your weekend destination.

And now, we're signing off. See you this weekend!

We've got a Book Fest to attend to.

The Decatur Book Fest is Friday, Sept1st through Sunday, Sept 3rd on the Decatur Square. For more information visit the Decatur Book Festival site, and be sure to stop by the Chapter 11* Books tent, located right in the middle of your path by the Information booth.