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3 New Books from Jim

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Quiet

 Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain. I reviewed this book some time ago here and was recently interviewed on KETR. Listen here.

See more of author Susan Cain's comments below and the test to see if you are an introvert.  

 Susan Cain's Opinion Piece In 'The New York Times'

On the value of working alone
"None of this is to say that it would be a good thing to get rid of teamwork and get rid of group work altogether. It's more just to say that we're at a point in our culture, and in our workplace culture, where we've gotten too lopsided. We tend to believe that all creativity and all productivity comes from the group, when in fact, there really is a benefit to solitude and to being able to go off and focus and put your head down."
On whether extroverts should be offended by 'Quiet'
"My criticism in the book is not of extroverts at all, but rather of the extrovert ideal. I actually find extroversion to be a really appealing personality style. ... Many of my best friends truly are extroverts, including my beloved husband."

Quiet Quiz: Are You an Introvert or an Extrovert?
Excerpted from: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
To find out where you fall on the introvert-extrovert spectrum, answer each question True or False, choosing the one that applies to you more often than not.
1. ______ I prefer one-on-one conversations to group activities.
2. ______ I often prefer to express myself in writing.
3. ______ I enjoy solitude.
4. ______ I seem to care about wealth, fame, and status less than my peers.
5. ______ I dislike small talk, but I enjoy talking in depth about topics that matter to me.
6. ______ People tell me that I'm a good listener.
7. ______ I'm not a big risk-taker.
8. ______ I enjoy work that allows me to "dive in" with few interruptions.
9. ______ I like to celebrate birthdays on a small scale, with only one or two close friends or family members.
10. ______ People describe me as "soft-spoken" or "mellow."
11. ______ I prefer not to show or discuss my work with others until it's finished.
12. ______ I dislike conflict.
13. ______ I do my best work on my own.
14. ______I tend to think before I speak.
15.______ I feel drained after being out and about, even if I've enjoyed myself.
16. ______I often let calls go through to voice mail.
17. ______If you had to choose, I'd prefer a weekend with absolutely nothing to do to one with too many things scheduled.
18. ______ I don't enjoy multitasking.
19. ______ I can concentrate easily
20. ______ In classroom situations, I prefer lectures to seminars.
The more often you answered True, the more introverted you are. This is an informal quiz, not a scientifically validated personality test. The questions were formulated based on characteristics of introversion often accepted by contemporary researchers.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Little Sister Death



Little Sister Death
William Gay
***
6/16/2016

I hate giving any work by Gay (one of my favorite authors) only three stars, but this one was published after his death and is obviously an unfinished manuscript. It’s the story of a writer who comes to live in Tennessee to write about a haunting known as the queen of the haunted dell--a legend or story famous to most Tennesseans and others across the country. But the writer’s complete story is never told. 

The title comes from Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury. Editors worked from Gay’s hand-written and typed notes and filled in a history of the story, but although Gay’s lyrical prose is present, the book seemed not ready for publication. And the Gothic tale is very, very gloomy and features macabre violence.  

But the introduction by Tom Franklin, a friend of Gay’s and a fellow writer, was worth the price of the book. I spent a day in William Gay’s home three years prior to his passing and found him just as Tom described. He showed me his book and music collection and one of his paintings. He also told me about his completed manuscript The Lost Country, which still remains unpublished. Guess Dzanc (publisher of this one)decided to go with this one first. 

Gay told me of his troubles with his publisher at the time (not Dzanc) on The Lost Country, but he did not mention this manuscript. I don’t think he would have wanted it published in this form, because he was a perfectionist.  His haunting prose and descriptions are here, but it is just not his best work.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Some Kind Words from one of America's best and most prolific writers

Why do we even go to the trouble of writing?

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THERE’S ONE GOOD THING about being a writer.
We hang around with a lot of writers.
I was with one of the best recently at the Silver Leos Writing Conference at Texas A&M Commerce.
I’ve known him for years.
And I’ve always been fascinated at Jim Ainsworth’s lyrical and literary way of stringing words together to tell a compelling story.
Pound for pound, inch for inch, and word for word, he is as good as any writer I have ever read.
His stories are mesmerizing.
He’s a poet writing prose.
Just read a passage from his novel, Firstborn Son:
But the auction and the deaths of his brothers and father had changed Ben Tom. Always upbeat and positive, he now seemed morose, often secluded himself for days at a time to grieve over his failures and losses. The regal house on the river mocked him as it deteriorated daily. He had let his lovely wife down, disappointed his children. He spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about how the people who depended on him would fare if he departed this life.
Joe Henry and Tee still sought out their old friend, sat down with him for coffee and bagels or a platter of Ben Tom’s homemade biscuits, usually at the old bank in Mesa, but sometimes on Ben Tom’s small farm. His back troubles were compounded with a variety of other ailments that he tried to conceal, but could not. His eyes revealed constant pain. His posture revealed a broken spirit. But his voice still expressed unbridled optimism and the confidence of better days ahead.
It doesn’t get any better than that.
Jim H. Ainsworth
Jim H. Ainsworth
As far as I’m concerned, Jim Ainsworth should be one of the best-known, best-read, and most popular novelists in America.
Sure he tells stories.
But his words paint pictures of life as it was and as it is on the Great American Southwestern landscape.
This is Jim’s land.
These are his people.
They may be fiction.
He knows them like family.
In real life, somewhere out there in the hinterland, they exist.
On the pages of Jim’s novels, they will always exist.
But, as a writer, Jim has a problem, and he knows it.
He knows what’s wrong.
He doesn’t care.
The books of Jim Ainsworth can’t be neatly classified or packaged in a particular genre that’s acceptable to powers who run the publishing world.
He says he writes Texas Fiction.
And that’s good enough for me.
He and I have spent many hours talking about the plight of authors as they confront today’s publishing world.
So many great writers.
So many great novels.
But who buys them?
Who discovers them?
A novel no one finds, a novel no one reads, is a novel that, in reality, never been written.
At least, it feels that way.
So often it seem we spend months weaving a story together only to throw it off a cliff and into a black abyss of lost and abandoned words.
Several months ago, Jim’s frustration boiled over.
He was tired of beating his head against the wall.
He was tired of writing books that didn’t sell.
He was tired of it all.
Jim Ainsworth was getting out of the writing game.
Goodbye.
And good riddance.
He rode away into the sunset.
Now he has ridden back, and it’s about time.
“I’m writing again,” he told me at Silver Leos.
“What made you change your mind?”
“It’s a letter I received a month or so ago.”
He did not know the lady who wrote the letter.
Maybe he had met her.
Maybe not.
But she told him she had gone through one of the darkest periods of her life.
She was down.
She was depressed.
But she had read one of his books, and it touched her.
It had eased the pain and turmoil that was troubling her life.
She could face tomorrow with a renewed spirit.
“That’s why I’m writing again,” Jim said. “I figured out why we do what we do as writers.”
“What’s that?” I asked.
“We’re not here to sell a million books, although it would be nice.” He shrugged. “If our words reach out and positively touch one person,” Jim said, “then writing the book has been worth the effort.”
Why are we here, he wonders, if not to help someone else?
Sometimes a story is all it takes.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

KETR Podcast   


Giving kids (and adults) an allowance. Also, a simple index card for financial planning.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Why Are Some Evangelical Leaders Supporting Trump?



Why do evangelical pastors like Robert Jeffress, a Fox News contributor and pastor of the 11,000-member First Baptist Church of Dallas, support Trump? He made headlines during the 2012 presidential election when he described The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a "cult" and said evangelicals should not vote for then-candidate Mitt Romney because he is a Mormon.

Gordon B. Hinckley, prior President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1995-2008), said: “We are Christians in a very real sense and that is coming to be more and more widely recognized. Members of our church pray and worship in the name of Jesus Christ. He is the center of our faith and the Head of our Church.”

Jeffress later conceded, “It is better to vote for a non-Christian (Romney, I presume) who supports biblical principles like life and marriage than voting for a professing Christian like Barack Obama who absolutely repudiates what Jesus Christ said about some key issues.”  

But the damage was done. Jeffress did not seem to realize that not voting for Romney was the same as voting for Obama. A small increase in the Christian vote would have defeated Obama in 2012.

In 2014, Jeffress released a book claiming that Obama’s re-election was paving the way for the Antichrist foretold in Scripture. Maybe he was promoting this future book when he helped with his reelection. 

The good pastor is back for the 2016 election. He appeared on Fox’s Lou Dobbs recently to again express his support for the Donald, saying that he is the only real “outsider” (which indicates a disturbing level of naiveté). He went on to say that after the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriages, evangelicals seem more open to a secular candidate, that they have decided to allow the government to solve “practical problems” and let the church solve Biblical problems. This was in answer to a question by Dobbs wherein he described Trump as a “very religious man—a Protestant . . . a Presbyterian”. 

So is Trump secular or Christian? Which is it, Dr. Jeffress? And are you seriously suggesting that Christians “give up” and vote for a candidate that does not reflect Christian values? What kind of twisted logic is that? 

How about that book of yours in 2014? Do you not realize that Trump’s values align almost perfectly with Obama’s?

Trump took deep offense when it appeared that the Pope was questioning his faith, but he has questioned the faith of at least three other candidates for the nomination many times. Maybe Jeffress is supporting Trump because they share a common personality trait of narcissists. They seem able to hold opposing ideas in their heads at the same time, to change positions regularly, and yet believe all positions held are exactly right. 

“The notion that the church, the press, and the universities should serve the state is essentially a Communist notion. In a free society these institutions must be wholly free — which is to say that their function is to serve as checks upon the state." —Alan Barth (1906-1979)

Food for thought: "Just how much must evangelicals and conservatives compromise themselves to support Trump? That is the ultimate problem. Every person supporting Trump has not just compromised on a candidate, but compromised their core values. ... These people are compromising their integrity for a presidential candidate willing to use profane language on the campaign trail and bombast to overcome a lack of knowledge of details. 'For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?'" —Erick Erickson

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Tweeter-In-Chief or Commander-In-Chief?



Donald Trump is an enigmatic phenomenon created by a sustained assault on critical thinking by the whining, oversensitive crybabies of political correctness encouraged by the likes of Obama, Reid, Pelosi et al. Americans are disgusted and angry at their attempts to take away our liberties and diminish America’s standing in the world, not to mention their utter devastation of our economy by running up more debt than all previous administrations combined. Yes, I said combined. There is a tipping point and we are nearing it.

“The Donald” is also a product of John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, who along with some other Republicans, made promises in order to get elected which they broke. Their policy of lying down, rolling over, and playing dead infuriated many of us.

I realized long ago that America is hungry for straight talk from a forceful leader. We want our intelligence to be respected and our freedoms to remain intact. For many, Trump seems to fill that need. But does he?

Trump supporters say:
He is not part of the establishment and will not be beholden to special interests. 

Nonsense. He is more establishment than any of the other candidates. The establishment is not just politicians, but the large donors who own them. Trump gave money to Reid, Pelosi, Obama, and even contributed $150K to the Clinton Foundation. He defines the term “crony capitalism”.

He will build a wall and make Mexico pay for it and rid our country of people here illegally who are draining our economy.

During the last presidential election, he called taking away welfare from illegal immigrants inhumane and is on record as supporting legalization and citizenship for folks who came here illegally. Will the real Donald Trump please come forward?

He will destroy our enemies, especially ISIS, and keep us safe.

Trump claims to have opposed the war in Iraq from inception. Yet he is on record as supporting it until a full eighteen months after it began. And what about his blaming W. for 9/11? Isn’t that an extreme left conspiracy position? Does that kind of deranged thinking befit a commander-in-chief?

He also shamefully hides behind 9/11, mentioning the hundreds of friends he lost. Though nobody can find records of his attending any of the funerals, I will accept what he says. But I do know he took (yes, I said took) $150K from the World Trade Center Business Recovery Grant program as a “small business” hurt by the attacks. His “small business” brings in $26.4 million annually and occupies a $400 million building.


He seems willing to equate his prep school time with military experience.

A military veteran said that Trump would take the lawyers off the battlefield (referring to the ridiculous rules-of-engagement that our Wimp-in-Chief imposes on our soldiers.)  Maybe he would, but Trump has surrounded himself with lawyers his entire adult life. 

Speaking of that . . .
He is currently involved in 169 federal lawsuits.
He is being sued for fraud for his now-defunct Trump University.
In 2013, he settled a lawsuit from investors who lost millions in his California resort that went belly-up.  

He is an extremely successful businessman.
           
Hard to argue that point, yet he has filed bankruptcy four times in the same gambling,  hotel, casino business. A lot of fine people have gone bankrupt and recovered, but four times in the same business?  Is he a slow-learner? He proudly says he used the laws available to him. Translation: He hid behind bankruptcy protection statutes to avoid paying creditors. If you had $9 billion, would you pay people who loaned you money or would you let them lose? How about the hundreds of employees who lost their jobs? If he wins the nomination, those folks will be in campaign ads.
             
What John Bright said of someone else applies to Trump. “He is a self-made man who worships his creator.”

He will get our budget balanced, reduce the national debt, and keep taxes low.

How does that square with his support of the bailout of large banks and the subsequent stimulus that added trillions to our debt without contributing to a real recovery? The only problem he had with either is that they were “not large enough”. 

He will get rid of Obamacare.

Maybe, but he promises to replace it with universal care, a single payer system controlled by the government. Do you really want your doctors to work for the government and hospitals run by bureaucrats?  Anyone who believes that the government should take over another 20-25% more of the economy is not qualified to run for any public office, much less president. P. J. O’Rourke said, “If you think health care is expensive now, wait until it’s free.”

He is a conservative.

He has not voted in a Republican primary for at least thirty years. Did he just skip voting or did he vote Democrat? 

He is pro-life and a Christian.

But wait … what about that pesky video a few years back where he said he was pro-choice including partial birth abortions? He is threatening to sue Ted Cruz for playing it in a campaign ad. He calls Cruz a liar for exposing his positions. Wouldn’t you love to hear the deposition when Cruz asks, “So, Donny, who is that guy speaking out of your face with your voice if it’s not you?” 

Donald says he is Christian but has never had to ask God for forgiveness. And what is a basic (maybe the basic tenet) of Christianity?  That’s right. It’s forgiveness. God knew man would continue to sin, so He sent His Son to die on the Cross so that we might be forgiven. 

He has a right to change his mind. 

Sure, but the man will be seventy before the general election. Shouldn’t his mind have been made up on significant issues long ago? 

What is more disturbing is that he is able to hold opposite positions in his head over short spans of time (sometimes in the same day). Another sign of severe narcissism.  Isn’t eight years with a narcissist in the White House enough? 

"Sixty-eight percent [of my followers] would not leave under any circumstance. I think that means murder, I think it means anything, okay?" —Donald Trump. Are you really going to vote for a man who insults you that way?

The Dems want this guy to win the nomination. He polls the worst against their candidates. He has the highest negative ratings of any candidate.

Donald Trump is a spoiled boy in a man’s body. Even in his senior years, he maintains the pursed-lips-pout of a small child and reacts angrily with threats of legal action to anyone who challenges him. Because of his personality disorder, he believes that any statement he utters is absolutely truthful, even when it is provably false.

Texans, we have a candidate from our state. Ted Cruz is a proven conservative, a constitutional scholar, a former Solicitor General for Texas, a man who has represented us before the Supreme Court nine times. Do I wish he had more private sector experience? Yes. Do I wish he had more charisma? Yes. But I am not looking for a guy to have a beer with; I am looking for a strong, principled leader. Cruz has kept his promises and proven courageous under national pressure from both the media and from his fellow Senators. If the media (including Fox) don’t like him and most politicians don’t like him, what better recommendation could there be?

Do we really want a president who Tweets, when a tweet could roil financial markets or cause an international incident? I think not. Common sense, intelligence, and humility are qualities I most admire in leaders. But I find hubris to be a dangerous trait.  I’ve worked with and for narcissists. I do not want another one to be the leader of the free world. 

Pastor Charles Stanley said, “Few people are excited about pursuing humility because it’s considered a weakness. But if we understand God’s view of it, we’ll realize that humility is an extremely significant quality. Philippians 2:3 says, ‘Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves’.”

Ben Shapiro says: "In truth, we should never be comfortable with our politicians. We should never trust them. Our celebrities have become royals, and our politicians have become celebrities. That means we crown ourselves a king or queen every four years. And America needs no kings and queens. We need unimportant, decent people who focus on how to make themselves unimportant in our lives."

Friday, January 29, 2016

Searching for a Reclusive Author



From A River of Stories Book


Notes from my journal about a trip I made to Tennessee:

Left in Jeep with the top down in July heat headed for Hohenwald, Tennessee. I hoped to meet and visit with author William Gay. I read his Provinces of Night and was mesmerized. When I saw a photo of the author beside a crude painted poster of Jimmie Rodgers, I knew there had to be some type of connection between us. I had heard he was somewhat reclusive, so my chances were doubtful. To give my pragmatic left brain an excuse for chasing such a wild goose, I told it that I was going to do some family history research. My maternal great grandparents came from Maury, Tennessee.
Spent first night in a real fleabag motel. A driving overnight rainstorm (6 inches) filled the Jeep floorboards overnight. Yes, I had a cover, but it just served as a funnel to pour water inside the Jeep. I pulled into a covered service station bay and managed to get the top up and Velcro the side windows in the pre-dawn dark.
Jeep windows fogged up quite a bit as the temp dropped about thirty degrees when I headed into the mountains. Discovered ballpoint pens had rolled off and blocked defroster.  Smoke boiled out of tall trees as temperature dropped. Road very winding, up and down and I was constantly threatened with log trucks, but held my own. Jeep handled well. Kudzu everywhere.  Must have crossed six or seven rivers including the Beech. Crossed the Tennessee River on Alvin York Bridge (hero of First World War) from Tennessee.  Over Coon Creek, Rushing Creek, etc…
Finally made it to Hohenwald and checked into only motel in town. Pretty crummy and worn out, but paradise compared to first night.  Took the precaution of examining the room before I gave up my credit card this time.  Also checked for ice machine, which was second only to cleanliness in importance.  Don’t need chocolates on my pillow, but I require ice. 
Next morning, I drove down to old house that had been converted into coffee shop/bookstore just off the square.  Looked for William Gay’s books and did not find a one. Asked owner about him and the guy turned up his nose and told me to ask his wife.  When I did, she just said, “He’s a hermit.”  They told me he had moved to another part of the county.  Hohenwald is in Lewis County (named for Explorer Meriwether Lewis, who is buried here).
Went to Chamber of Commerce and picked up some info. and maps.  Nice lady there said Gay comes to library quite often, but is reclusive and strange.  Of course, I already knew that from seeing pictures of him and from reading his stuff.  Made me want to meet him even more.  Said she would give my cell number to lady at library when she returned.  Maybe she could help. 
I drove up to Columbia, Tenn., county seat of Maury County, where my maternal grandmother was born. Had to almost strip and give up my pocket knife to get into courthouse where county clerk (called by different title there) seemed unfamiliar with the concept of marriage licenses and birth certificates.  Finally, someone told me that archives were kept in the old jail across the street.  Great old restored building and helpful people there.  Found marriage license for great grandparents. Their old farm is now a state park in Maury County and in Marshall County, (Lewisberg County Seat), Nathan Bedford Forrest (Civil War Hero) memorial is also on their old farm. Satisfied to have accomplished at least something, I headed back to Hohenwald, taking a little side trip on Natchez Trace Parkway.  Very, very, nice Jeep ride.  Close to Choctaw country and more ancestors. 
Back in Hohenwald, I learned it’s common practice to name roads for residents, so I located William Gay Road in late afternoon. Only one house on the road’s dead end.  Beware of dog and Trespassers will be Shot and Survivors Prosecuted signs.  Dogs would not let me get out and knock. They literally tried to chew the tires off my Jeep and tried to jump inside (the top was down), so I turned around and came back disappointed.  Wish I could have taken a picture, but camera was back in motel room.  The house was built with rough-hewn timber, not logs, and had several different types of rusted sheet metal on the roof.  Gay was a carpenter by trade, so I wondered if he had built it. Interesting place.  Would love to have seen the inside. I settled for a Jeep ride through Tennessee Hill Country and lucked on Grinders Creek, a place mentioned often in Gay’s novels. Looks just like he described in his book. 
The next day, I walked downtown to the chamber again and found that the librarian had called Gay on my behalf. The reclusive author told her that he might call me. Went to library and the librarian gave up his correct number (after I gave her one of my own books.)  I called.  He confirmed that he had tried to call me but lady had given him one digit wrong on number. Told me to drive on out to his house.  Seems his wife divorced him and took the house on William Gay Road. 
Followed his directions to Little Swan Creek. His house is up a slight hill just before the bridge that crosses the creek.  He shares a road with other folks that live up the hill behind him.  William Gay looks just like what he was most of his life, a drywall man who may have drunk and smoked a little too much.  However, this drywall man is brilliant.  Hair hangs in ringlets as if it had never seen a comb, over his collar but not as long as I have seen in pictures of him. 
House is logs with red metal roof.  Nice enough, but he has not abandoned his hillbilly heritage.  An abandoned pickup sits in front of a small shop, the bed full of V-8 cans and assorted trash.  Think he was sipping V-8 the whole time I talked to him, alternating with drags on cigarettes.  Said he and his son are trying to quit.  Interesting that I also consume a lot of V-8.  End of his left index finger has been pinched off.  Mine, too. 
Room filled with books. Hundreds. Fireplace and wood stove in the room, but no overhead light.  Room very dark (just like I like my office).  Paintings scattered here and there.  (Yes, he paints, too.)  A few guitars and a few books on how to compose music. Big books on Van Gogh art and lots of DVD’s and all kinds of art books. While he talked on phone to his daughter, I perused the shelves and found our tastes a lot alike, especially in movies.  (I offered to leave so he could talk in private, but he motioned for me to stay).
I kept offering to end my intrusion on his privacy, but he urged me to stay and talk. We talked about his writing and some funny stories.  I told him that the scene with Albright and the hog was the funniest I ever read. Asked him about characters in Provinces of Night, Fleming, E. W. and Boyd, etc… Told me he was a little bit Fleming (a seventeen year-old boy), a little bit Boyd (the boy’s father), and a little bit E. W. (the grandfather).  Same answer I give when people ask me if I am Jake in my books. 
He had a director’s chair with the name of his book of short stories on it. They made a movie recently based on one of the stories in Hate to see That Evening Sun Go Down. Hal Holbrook plays the old man. I have since seen the movie and really enjoyed it.  
He got a call from his agent while I was there about another book Twilight.  It has been optioned for a movie, also.  Don’t like it was well as Provinces, but still a very good read.  After my visit, I learned that Provinces would be made into a movie starring Kris Kristofferson called “Bloodworth”. I also learned that his publisher for The Lost Country is having trouble and holding up its publication.
I told him I had written him in the first part of 2007 after reading Provinces.  Said that was about the time his wife kicked him out and he never got the letter.  He seemed impressed that I brought along a copy.  He’s won numerous prestigious awards, primarily for his magazine short stories, but also for his books.  He’s a visiting writing scholar at Sewanee, University of the South.  Oxford-American magazine commissioned him to write an article about his experiences going to a college campus as a scholar when he never attended college.  He has read himself into brilliance.  Though I expect there was something genetic going on, too. 
A lady in town asked him if he got help with his writing.  He asked, “What kind of help?”
She said, “Well, your people was never very smart and you wasn’t either.  Figured you got some help.”
Based on his stories, his family was both poor and violent, doing everything wrong to the excess.  Although he had a huge appetite for books and magazines and regularly entered writing contests, he followed the same path as the rest of the family for most of his life until he started winning competitions for his stories.
I was a reader as a kid, but always felt guilty about it and never read any heavy stuff unless I had to. Wish someone had told me reading was never a waste of time. I recall reading a comic book (we called them funny books) when Daddy ran a service station in Commerce.  I was about ten and was supposed to watch the front while daddy did some mechanic work in the garage behind. A customer went to get him because he could not get my attention to take his money. Daddy had to shake me I was so engrossed in reading what was probably a comic book.  Don’t think that has happened before or since, but I get the impression that William Gay lived his life inside books because his outside life was so bad. 
I praised him for the dialect in his writing because I consider it perfect. He said he listened to folks around there a lot.  Recently, a man on a construction job complained, “My old lady ain’t put a hot meal on the table in weeks. The bitch will be laying on her ass when I get home tonight.”  When asked what he would do if he she did have a hot meal, he replied.  “I won’t eat a damn bite.”  I found that hilarious and so typical. 
I told him I had met Flannery O’Connor once when she came to ET. He asked which year and I said 62 or 63. I think he was trying to catch me in a made-up story, because he knew that she died in 64 at 39. He asked if she was frail when I saw her. He said he had always wanted to meet her. He told me of many writers who had influenced his writing and life, including a fellow who wrote stories for the Progressive Farmer magazine.  Gay has an incredible memory for authors and book titles. Wish I did. I can remember details inside books, but have trouble with titles and authors.
I left after a couple of hours and drove up the Natchez Trace toward Nashville. Got off a little early and headed toward Grinders Switch (home of Minnie Pearl).  There is a water tower and an abandoned depot, but little else there.  Really great Jeep riding though the winding hills and across winding railroad track.  Back down through pretty mountain scenery and to Hohenwald by bedtime. A good day.
William Gay
William Gay
William Gay first came to the Sewanee Writers Conference in 1999 as a Tennessee Williams Scholar. Later that year, Gay published his first novel, The Long Home, which received the James A. Michener Memorial Prize. Gay returned to Sewanee in 2000 as a Walter A. Dakin Fellow and served as the Tennessee Williams Fellow for the 2000-2001 academic year. Gay then published another novel, Provinces of Night, and a collection of stories, I Hate to See That Evening Sun Go Down, which contained stories that had been published in the Missouri Review, Georgia Review, Oxford American, Atlantic Monthly, and Harper's. His stories have also been anthologized in Best American Short Stories, New Stories from the South, O. Henry Awards Prize Stories, Best New American Voices, and Best American Mystery Stories. In 2006, he published his third novel, Twilight, and was named a USA Ford Foundation Fellow by United States Artists. *In 2010, MacAdam/Cage will publish his new novel, The Lost Country.
*Note: Gay died before his last novel was published. Nobody has found his last manuscript (or will admit to it.)