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Conversations not to miss 

Featured talks from the NC Festival of the Book

Screening of The Rough South of Larry Brown

Introduced by filmmaker Gary Hawkins. 5:30 p.m., Sunday, April 30 at Bryan Center

Bring your ashtray and your whiskey tumbler to this screening of the unusual, sui generis The Rough South of Larry Brown. Brown, who died suddenly a couple of years ago, was the author of hard-bitten Southern vignettes and became the contemporary Southern equivalent of Charles Bukowski. Director Gary Hawkins will discuss his film, which includes new interview footage of Brown's widow. --David Fellerath


Politics and music

Hal Crowther with Peter Guralnick. 5:30 p.m., Sunday, April 30 at Perkins Library

Award-winning essayist, Independent columnist and former Spectator executive editor Hal Crowther will sit down with noted novelist and cultural critic Peter Guralnick. As writers, both Crowther and Guralnick sport a knack for taking minute, personal experiences and applying them to the world at large. As such, expect plenty of anecdotes and reverence for the musical giants of the South, from Sam Cooke and Elvis Presley to Dolly Parton and Hank Williams.
--Grayson Currin


Keynote by Barbara Kingsolver

The literature of social change. 8 p.m., Thursday, April 27
at Duke Chapel

The author of The Bean Trees and The Poisonwood Bible won't be talking about how it feels to be selected for Oprah's Book Club. Instead, Kingsolver will discuss writing for social change and her efforts to support that kind of work by establishing the Bellwether Prize. --Caroline Monday


Growing up's funny

Haven Kimmel and Lewis Nordan. 3:30 p.m., Sunday, April 30 at the Divinity School

Kimmel and Nordan will discuss points of view, an appropriate subject for both authors, as it is their most similar strength. Kimmel has documented her time as a child growing up in Indiana in two memoirs, both of which tell the story of her idiosyncratic family. She encouraged her mother to attend college while but a child herself, and the tales that result from such a relationship are personal and meaningful. Nordan's characters, often based in a fictional town in his native Mississippi, provide both chills and laughs, reflecting the view of his experience-fed imagination. --Grayson Currin


Birds of a feather

Richard Reeves with Congressman David Price. 4 p.m., Sunday, April 30 at Perkins Library

Don't think of Richard Reeves as a liberal columnist, former correspondent for The New York Times, or even as the author of 11 books, including presidential biographies of Jack Kennedy, Dick Nixon and--his latest--Ronald Reagan. Think of him instead as a Jersey City guy who understands muscle politics, and who gets it how Reagan mesmerized the country with his combination of military swagger and pitchman's smile. Now consider David Price, veteran congressman from Chapel Hill. The epitome of the Democratic Party, he is neither sunny nor simple about the condition of the nation. Is the country ready for worried but cautious leadership?
--Bob Geary


Mentoring young writers

Pearl Cleage, Tayari Jones and Houston Baker. 1:30 p.m., Sunday, April 30 at the Divinity School

Performance artist, playwright, poet, novelist and columnist Cleage (What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day, Babylon Sisters, Baby Brother's Blues) will be joined by Atlanta native Jones (Leaving Atlanta and The Untelling), "a remarkable novelist, able to face down the tragedies of life with the clarity and beauty and even the dark humor of a true artist," according to Robert Olen Butler. Duke professor of English Houston Baker, one of the foremost scholars and critics of African-American literature and cultural studies, will moderate the discussion about teachers and students. --Angela Haile


Memoirist Brad Land/filmmaker David Gordon Green

Adapting Land's book, GOAT, into a motion picture. 1 p.m., Saturday, April 29 at Bryan Center

After Brad Land was assaulted and nearly killed by two hitchhikers when he was 18, he fled to the safe harbor of Clemson University and the Kappa Sigma frat. Bad move, it turned out, as he was victimized again in a series of hazing rituals. Years later, Land turned his trials into art with the acclaimed memoir GOAT. Green, a N.C. School of the Arts grad and the creator of All the Real Girls, Undertow and George Washington, is preparing to direct the screen adaptation of Land's unhappy life story. --David Fellerath

  • Larry Brown film, Politics & Music, Barbara Kingsolver, Richard Reeves and more

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