Wednesday, November 10, 2010
As I boy I grew idolizing professional athletes like Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Johnny Bench and Reggie Jackson. I grew out of that phase, but I have to admit even at 45, I am still star struck by a couple of my favorite authors such as Cormac McCarthy, Daniel Woodrell, William Gay, and Ken Bruen. I have been waiting to meet William for about 5 years now and had several close calls in the past with no success. There was a time I ran into Tom Franklin in Oxford,Ms. and we were in a discussion on William when Tom pulled out his cell phone, and says lets call him. Unfortunately,.. William never picked up. So, I waited patiently for William to make a public appearance for a book signing, but his new novel, "The Lost Country" has been held up for several years now. Then it finally happened, William was gonna be at The Southern Festival of Books & at Landmark Books in Franklin, Tn. I called up my friends and family and made plans and everything was set. On the day before he was scheduled to appear I got a call from Jed Ayres with the news William had cancelled both appearances due to his health. I can't begin to tell you how bummed I was at that moment. HOWEVER, the good news is William has made a full recovery, is feeling much better and rescheduled his signing at Landmark Books for Nov. 7th and it went off without a hitch. I was walking out of the bookstore following Madison Smart Bell's reading and book signing earlier that day, and I walk right into William Gay leaning against a car smoking a cigarette and it rendered me speechless, and for those of you who know me, that's quite an accomplishment. I soon recovered, and literally had one of the great evenings of my life. Sonny Brewer talked about how the book came about in the first place, ( an inspiration from John, the owner of LeMuria Books in Jackson,Ms.) which was pretty cool because I had just spent a couple hours in John's office this summer listening to tales of William Gay and other southern authors who had stopped in over the years. Then William pulled out his reading glasses and read his entire story from "Don't Quit Your Day Job". The packed crowd was delighted & the entire story was witty and quite amusing. William Gay has a wonderful talent for story telling and being able to find humor in himself and those around him. Sonny Brewer has put together quite the collection of authors here including many of my personal favorites such as Larry Brown, Pat Conroy, Tom Franklin, John Grisham, Silas House, Daniel Wallace and of course William Gay. Chris Gay, Williams son, also wooed the crowd with his talent as a musician. Check out the previous story to find out more on Chris. Following the reading's William hung around and signed books and spent quite abit of time in conversation with those lucky enough to be there for this occasion. I was thrilled that in the middle of telling William about an exciting new talented author who had admired his work, William says " would he like for me to blurb his book"...do bears #@%!* in the woods. Oh my goodness, I couldn't wait to get home & tell the author of the offer. I hope it works out! William also spent time sharing his thoughts on meeting Hal Holbrook,and his books being made into film (Bloodsworth & That Evening Sun) and just as I was asking him about "The Long Home" & the screenplay that Scott Phillips & Jed Ayres had done, we were interrupted by a young lady needing her books signed. I certainly understood the urgency and I forgave her but I sure would have liked to have heard the answer. The evening was everything I dreamed of and could have hoped for. William Gay is one of the nicest & coolest authors I've run across and I hope he enjoys the bottle of homemade rhubarb wine I took him..it's good stuff!
Posted by Rod Norman at 6:29 PM