As most of you are aware, I went down to New Orleans
yesterday to attend two of the Master Classes in the
Tennessee Williams Literary Festival. The two I chose
were two of my favorite authors whom I believe to be
true Masters of their craft, John Berendt and Rick Bragg!
Part One: JOHN BERENDT................
I doubt that there is anyone reading this blog who has not
read his Pulitzer Nominated Bestseller:
" Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil" or at least
seen the movie..........
I knew about Savannah before John's book came out due
to Eugenia Price, one of my favorite historical fiction authors.
I had read all of her books which are based in this area.
It was John's book however that made me fall deeply in love
with Savannah and long to experience it for myself!
Savannah herself IS the main character of "Midnight"
His class yesterday was about:
" Capturing The Character of Place"..............
The room where these Master Classes were held was
like stepping back in time to the parlor of a beautiful
The room filled to capacity and over flowing with
literary minded people ! I felt so blessed to be there!
We listened intently as the accomplishments of our Master
teacher were heralded and he was introduced ........
Now all of you know how partial I am to Southern Writers!
They are a special breed, myself included. I often say
" we write with a need to fix the wrongs" especially those
of us from the "deep south" where so much pain and misery
is attached to the backbone of slavery and the civil rights era.
John is not from the south but he truly understands her!
I learned from him that there are, 150 different southern
accents and that in writing place, you have to get it right!
Here John reads the Eudora Welty story:
" Where Is The Voice Coming From"
Eudora wrote this story the night Civil Rights
Leader, Medgar Evers was gunned down in his
front yard in front of his wife and children. It is
a perfect example of capturing "place" as it turned
out to be an exact literary profile of the killer who
at the time of her writing, was unknown!
William Faulkner (1897-1962)
These three Masters are all Mississippi Writers.
I was very proud to discover that these three along
with Alabama's Master, Walker Percy(1916-1990)
and Georgia's Master, Flannery O'Connor(1925-1964)
are the Master's who have influenced his writing!
" If you are writing place, you must create it!
Smell it, taste it, feel the wind, hear it. When
you have captured the place, the characters
will step out and take over"
During the signing, we had an interesting
occurrence. John had never seen this slick
face paperback version of his second book!
He believes it to be a special printing and I
at that moment, wasn't sure where I'd bought it.
Later I remembered that I had actually bought
it in an antique shop in Savannah!
It was truly a wonderful experience to listen and learn
from the man whose writing I so admire! However the
best part was standing next to him to have a picture with
him to add to my collection! I have never been photogenic
but he looks awesome!
John assured me he would be visiting The Writer's Porch
to view this post, so please leave a comment if you are a
fan of this Literary Master!
For all of us John Berendt fans........we have been to Savannah
and Venice, and due to a few hints........I believe we will be in the
magical city of New Orleans next!