Books All Georgians Should Read

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Archive for January, 2012

The Townsend Award

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

The Townsend Award for Fiction is a major Georgia literary prize that has followed a bit of a winding path since its inception. They began back in 1981, named to honor Jim Townsend, the founder of Atlanta magazine and a fine writer who served as an inspiration to a number of young authors. Over the years since his passing, however, the Townsend family apparently lost interwest and is no longer involved in the award though it continues to carry his name. Instead, it is administered by Georgia Perimeter College and the Georgia Center for the Book, with assistance from several other organizations.

This background, of course, matters not nearly as much as the award itself and the writers who have been chosen to receive it over the years. They include a pretty fair group of whom you may have heard: Alice Walker, Terry Kay, Philip Lee Williams, Mary Hood, Ha Jin, Ferrol Sams and others. It’s a significant award by any name, however, and the ten nominees foror this year have just been named. They are, in alphabetical order:

Daniel Black forPerfect Peace

Lynn Cullen for Reign of Madness

Ann Hite for Ghost on Black Mountain

Joshilyn Jackson for Backseat Saints

Collin Kelley for Remain in Light

Thomas Mullen for The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers

Andrew Plattner for A Marriage of Convenience

Josh Russell for My Bright Midnight

Joseph Skibell for A Curable Romantic

Amanda Kyle Williams for The Stranger You Seek 

If you’re looking for a good fiction reading list, go no further. This is a great one. They are all Georgia writers, or writers with strong connections to this state, and they represent a great diversity in showcasing literary talent around these parts.

The winner of the Townsend Award — given every other year, by the way — will be announced at a gala reception on the evening of April 26 at the Atlanta Botanical Garden (not exactly known as a literary salon, but it’s lovely nonetheless). We’ll have details about tickets posted shortly. In the meantime, the Center for the Book and the Southern Academy of Literary arts at GPC have chosen a panel of three out-of-state judges who will make a decision among the ten nominees, but we’ll all have to wait until April 26 to find out who’s the winner. We hope you’ll want to join us there for the festivities, and to hear from keynote speaker, the prize-winning  novelist Anne Beattie.

Check Out ‘Parenthood’

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

It’s fun to make fun of the quality of television programming. Much of it deserves scorn. (You know who you are.) But there are some high points, and not just on PBS or some of the pay-per-view channels. I’m thinking specifically of NBC’s family drama, “Parenthood,” that appears on Tuesday evenings.

Now in its second season, this is a show that thrives on its good writing — something we admire whether it comes in books, plays, films or on television — and an outstanding ensemble of actors. It a one-hour show that could have descended into the status of soap opera, and it does indeed have some of those hallmarks. But the qualilty of the writing lifts it above that, constantly surprising us with the complexity of its many characters, young and old.

“Parenthood” is probably known best for its accurate, sometimes painful presentation of a young boy with Aspergers, but it is the interactions between the adults, between the adults and their children, and between the children that show us lives that seem very real. It’s hard not to connect to some of the people and the situations on “Parenthood.”

There are some other shows on television with sparkling good writing and acting — “The Good Wife” comes to mind — but I don’t think there’s a finer example of the difference that quality writing harnessed to good acting can make than this underrated and, sadly, under-viewed, show. I urge you to check it out before the executives at the network decide to shut it down.