We've got a busy book fall around the Triangle, with the highlights including visits from at least four Pulitzer Prize winners and one National Book Award winner, plenty of local authors and subjects, and topics ranging from Sudan to Cuba, NASCAR to transcendentalism. All of these events are free, by the way.
You probably don't have much time to read any more, so at least replace "but I saw the movie" with "but I went to the author's reading."
If Michael Moore's documentary Sicko didn't do it for you, you might check out Maggi Ann Grace's story. Her State of the Heart is the true account of her partner Howard Staab, an uninsured, self-employed carpenter. When Staab couldn't afford major heart surgery in the United States, he and Grace had to think outside the CATscanner. Way outside. India. The book's Web site calls this memoir "part travelogue, part critique of the U.S. healthcare system, part medical drama... [It] describes the frantic search for alternatives to mortgaging the rest of their lives in exchange for Howard's life." Grace will be at the Carrboro Century Center Sept. 19 at 9:30 a.m. (918-7385, www.ci.carrboro.nc.us/rp/gpefoaF07.htm) and McIntyre's Fine Books at 2 p.m., Sept. 28 (542-2121, www.mcintyresbooks.com).
You're forgiven for presuming that all NASCAR fans are illiterate, but Godspeed: Racing Is My Religion, by Elon College religious studies lecturer L. D. Russell, will disabuse you of that misconception. His book about the sport of turning left at breakneck velocity includes sociology, history and memoir. He'll read from it at the Regulator at 7 p.m., Sept. 19 (286-2700, www.regbook.com) and McIntyre's at 11 a.m., Sept. 29. If you miss Russell's September readings, you can catch him at Market Street Books at 7 p.m., Oct. 11. Try not to speed driving home.
Durham lit-celeb Haven Kimmel throws a weeklong release party for her new novel, The Used World: 7 p.m., Sept. 18, at the Regulator, 7 p.m., Sept. 20, at Quail Ridge Books (828-1588, www.quailridgebooks.com) and 11 a.m., Sept. 22, at McIntyre's. We haven't seen it yet, but according to the Regulator, The Used World "delves into [Kimmel's] usual eccentric family dynamics."
Local photographer David Johnson went to Sudan, where he met and photographed people living in some of the direst conditions on earth. His new book, Voices of Sudan, documents that experience in powerful images and words. Johnson appears twice on Sept 26: 3:30 p.m., with slideshow, at Bull's Head Bookshop (962-5060, store.unc.edu) and 7 p.m. at Internationalist Books (942-1740, www.internationalistbooks.org). Buy a copy of the book: All proceeds go directly to individuals in Sudan.
The Indy's Brian Howe wrote that elin o'Hara slavick, in her "consummately political" new book, Bomb After Bomb, has "pressed modernity's most ghastly events into the service of beauty." slavick, a professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, "makes us think viscerally about things we usually contemplate in a more existential manner." She will read from and sign Bomb After Bomb at 3:30 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 19 at Bull's Head Bookshop. (slavick also appears at McIntyre's on Nov. 10, at 11 a.m.)
Durham literary doyenne Georgann Eubanks (she founded the N.C. Writers' Network and runs the Duke Writers' Workshop) makes three appearances in October and November to mark the release of her guidebook, Literary Trails of the North Carolina Mountains, which was issued in conjunction with the N.C. Arts Council. The book features half-day and daylong walking tours designed to take you places where literature has happened. The book also contains writing by more than 170 authors ranging from Tar Heels Thomas Wolfe and Kathryn Stripling Byer to literary titans such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and ... Nina Simone. Eubanks appears at Quail Ridge at 3 p.m., Oct. 28, McIntyre's at 2 p.m., Nov. 2, and the Regulator at 7 p.m., Nov. 8.
Andrea Barrett won the 1996 National Book Award for her story collection Ship Fever, which contained a fair dose of science. She's back with a new work, the novel The Air We Breathe, which features not only more science but also U.S. history—it's about consumptives in an Adirondacks sanatorium during World War I. Barrett reads at Quail Ridge, 7 p.m., Oct. 18.
The native Scot poet Alex Grant now lives in Chapel Hill, and his latest collection, Chains and Mirrors, won both the Randall Jarrell and Oscar Arnold Young awards. He reads at McIntyre's, along with other contributors to Kakalak 2007: An Anthology of North Carolina Poets, at 11 a.m., Oct. 6. Grant writes strong formal poetry, but it's worth going just to hear his brogue.
Chapel Hill's Jean Anderson is in the James Beard Cookbook Hall of Fame, so if she writes a new book and you like food, you should probably pay attention. Her new one, A Love Affair with Southern Cooking: Recipes and Recollections, probably needs no further introduction. She's at McIntyre's at 11 a.m., Oct. 27 and at Quail Ridge at 2 p.m., Nov. 4. Quail Ridge promises "samples!"
The legendary Tar Heel Senator Sam Ervin helped bring down two infamous Americans: Joe McCarthy and Richard Nixon. Curiously, he also opposed most civil rights legislation. This paradoxical fellow is the subject of a new (and apparently the first posthumous) biography by Karl E. Campbell: Sam Ervin: Last of the Founding Fathers. Campbell appears at McIntyre's at 2 p.m., Nov. 16, the Regulator at 7 p.m., Nov. 17 and Quail Ridge at 7 p.m., Nov. 19.
The venerable North Carolinian Robert Morgan is a best-selling author—a poet, novelist and essayist. Now he's also a biographer, weighing in with Boone: A Biography. Morgan appears at McIntyre's at 7 p.m., Nov. 13, and Quail Ridge at 7 p.m., Nov. 15.
The esteemed UNC American studies professor Philip F. Gura has a new book coming in November: American Transcendentalism: A History. He reads from it at Bull's Head at 3:30 p.m., Nov. 28.
His birthday was July 10, so it makes perfect sense that Marcel Proust Day at Bull's Head is on Nov. 6. Free lime tea and (but of course) madeleines will be served; rumors that the Princesse de Guermantes will appear are unsubstantiated. Bring a quote in French and you win a prize. You're lucky the quote doesn't have to be from Proust himself: Those gorgeous, helical sentences will use up a lot of toner.
The photographer Alex Harris was a co-founder of Duke's Center for Documentary Studies and its magazine, DoubleTake. His new book, The Idea of Cuba, documents Harris' journeys into the land of Castro and Martí. He talks and signs copies at the Nasher Museum at 5:30 p.m., Nov. 16 (684-5135, nasher.duke.edu).
Hillsborough's beloved Lee Smith has just seen her latest novel, On Agate Hill, issued in paperback, and she reads from it at Quail Ridge at 7 p.m., Dec. 6.
And finally, kids, this is also a good month to (re-)read Cheever's "Christmas Is a Sad Season for the Poor."