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Mark Childress

Mark Childress (photo credit:  Kelly Campbell,

Mark Childress was destined to be a writer.  Born in the literary capital of Alabama-- Monroeville--he fondly recounts his discovery of the work of Harper Lee, specifically the profound effect the novel To Kill a Mockingbird had on his career and ambitions. His essay, Looking for Harper Lee, details his experiences with the renowned author.

Childress left Monroeville as a young child, and while he visited regularly, spent much of his childhood between Ohio, Indiana, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama.

Upon graduating from the University of Alabama in 1978, Childress became a journalist, a path that garnered him experience as a reporter for The Birmingham News and editor for Southern Living and The Atlanta Journal and Constitution.  His work has been published in The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, and the Chicago Tribune, among others

In 1987, Childress turned his sights on writing fiction full-time.  One Mississippi was recognized by O Magazine and became a summer reading selection for Good Morning America, while Stephen King called it one of the Ten Best Books of 2006 in Entertainment Weekly.

Childress has been honored with such awards as the Thomas Wolfe Award (a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Alabama), and the Alabama Library Association’s Writer of the Year.  His novel Tender was a Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club Selection, yet he is likely best known for Crazy in Alabama, recognized as Book of the Year in 1993 by The London Spectator and listed as a Notable Book of the Year by The New York Times. He wrote the screenplay for the work, which became a selection of the Venice and San Sebastian Film Festivals in 1999.

Childress has written three children’s books: Joshua and Bigtooth, Joshua and the Big Bad Blue Crabs, and Henry Bobbity Is Missing and It Is All Billy Bobbity's Fault.

Childress currently lives in another literary hub, Key West, Florida, home of Ernest Hemingway. He continues to write and is said to be working on a new film project.

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  1. Looking for Harper Lee, Mark Childress

    Looking for Harper Lee is a short, detailed essay written by Crazy in Alabama's author Mark Childress. Childress, also a native of Harper Lee's hometown, Monroeville Alabama, wrote the title essay, "Looking for Harper Lee," in his earlier days as a journalist-- when he was trying to obtain an interview with Harper Lee. Also contained in this edition is a follow-up essay of sorts, "Something in the Water," which speaks to the South-Alabama heritage of a multitude of writers that come from the same environs of the elusive novelist, Harper Lee.

    Looking for Harper Lee is not so much about Mark Childress’ quest to find and interview the hermetic author as it is an understanding of why Harper Lee chose to bow out of the limelight. It and "Something in the Water" also reflect Childress’ deep appreciation for To Kill a Mockingbird, as well as what Mockingbird has represented in literature.  

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  2. V for Victor

    V for Victor is the coming-of-age tale of sixteen year old Victor who finds himself on a forlorn island in Mobile Bay taking care of his passing grandmother. He is not prepared for the adventure that awaits him as the presence of war comes knocking at his door. Victor has more hubbub and commotion in his life than any one teen deserves. Butch, another troubled young man, shows up and easily becomes the darker side of the coin between the two boys.

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  3. Georgia Bottoms by Mark Childress

    Georgia Bottoms is a hilarious novel about small town life in the south. It also demonstrates self-development, at least in Georgia’s case. She goes from being aware of her own faults to actually admitting them. Non-apologetically, maybe, but admitting them nonetheless. Overall, this is a great read for fans of Childress, and fans of Southern literature and humor.

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  4. Crazy in Alabama by Mark Childress

    New York Times Notable Book.

    "By turns comic, tragic and, most of all, moving, Crazy in Alabama is a heartfelt original that cuts to the quick." -People

    "Compulsively readable... The story strikes out in two directions at once: Lucille's journey from Industry [Alabama] to Hollywood, where she is determined to become a regular on 'The Beverly Hillbillies;' and the coming-of-age of her 12-year-old nephew Peejoe, who discovers the difference between 'white and Nigra' justice when Industry opens its new municipal swimming pool... Childress deftly weaves the real and symbolic journeys through comic exaggeration and sudden, fist-in-your-face realism... A rollicking and important novel." -San Francisco Chronicle

    "Something that nobody has ever written before... Childress plays out his two hands here, civil rights and husbandicide, like a mster playing out a fancy game of double solitaire... Funny, witty." -The Washington Post Book World

    "Triumphant... It is a measure of Mr. Childress's skill as a novelist that he soon had me eating out of his hand... [This] novel seems not only fresh and original but also positively inspired." -The New York Times Book Review

    "Terrific... A combination of Thelma and Louise and To Kill a Mockingbird... Childress shows himself to be a smooth, skillful storyteller who fully understands his characters' hearts and heads... Hilarity and heartbreak go hand in hand." -The Orlando Sentinel


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  5. A World Made of Fire by Mark Childress

    "Mark Childress is an artist with an ear comparable to Eudora Welty's. I haven't read a Southern novel since Losing Battles that has given me such pleasure.” -Harper Lee.

    "That rarest of finds, an unsentimental coming-of-age story, the novel is also an engrossing mystery... We couldn't ask for more." -San Francisco Chronicle.

    "Mark Childress is a writer of almost uncanny stylistic ability and clear vision. His eye for detail is extraordinary... you want to holler oh yeah! like a guy who's gotten religion at a riverside camp meeting." -Stephen King.

    "The ambivalence of fire--as evocation of glowing love and furious destruction--permeates this stunning first novel by Mark Childress, a young Southern writer who gives fresh expression to his region's literary preoccupations... A World Made of Fire probes varieties of tenderness and love, principally from the viewpoint of [a] young girl, Estelle Bates, whose literary forebears include Lena Grove in Faulkner's Light in August... Childress dramatically traces her course, keeping the violent and the tender elements in a tense, remarkably effective balance... Reading it is rather like staring for a good long while into the coals of a fire; in that concentration of energy, many things can be learned." -Newsday.

    "Childress writes his haunting novel with poetic cadence in brief, intense chapters... He is an author of imagination... Stella's coming-of-age in grief and loneliness is drawn with graceful authenticity." -Valerie Miner, The New York Times Book Review.

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  6. Gone for Good by Mark Childress

    By the time Ben (Superman) Willis is dubbed "The New Super-Poet of Pop" by the media, he has millions of adoring fans, piles of money--and a secret desire to chuck it all and disappear forever. He soon gets his wish when a violent storm causes his plane to crash on a remote tropical island. Learn More

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