Ol’ Curiosities and Book Shoppe and Monroe County Heritage Museum present: Forgotten Alabama & More Forgotten Alabama photographer Glenn Wills at Old Courthouse Museum

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Huntsville, Alabama native Glenn Wills has taken nearly 15,000 pictures across all 67 counties in the state of Alabama. It began when one day Glenn noticed an old car by the side of the road, but realized that he didn’t have a camera with him to capture the moment. From that moment, Glenn set out to photograph “forgotten” physical reminders of our past. His photographs range from abandoned stores and buildings to old cars and houses, and more.

Glenn took his collection of photographs and turned them into not one, but two photography books: Forgotten Alabama and More Forgotten Alabama.

Glenn will be at the Old Courthouse Museum in Monroeville, Alabama next Thursday February 23rd from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm. Forgotten Alabama and More Forgotten Alabama will both be available for purchase, and Glenn will be happy to autograph them. He will also be sharing a PowerPoint presentation that will take viewers on a journey, explaining how the project came to be and showing examples of his photography. Following the presentation, there will be a question and answer session with Glenn.

We hope to see as many of our friends as possible next Thursday to meet Glenn and explore and discuss Forgotten Alabama and More Forgotten Alabama at the Old Courthouse Museum.

If you can’t wait until next week and want a sneak peek of Glenn’s work, visit https://www.facebook.com/forgottenalabamathebook/.

 

For questions or further information, please contact one of the following:

Nathan Carter

Old Courthouse Museum

251-575-7433

mchm@frontiernet.net

Ann Mote
Ol’ Curiosities & Book Shoppe
251-575-1050
ocbookshoppe@gmail.com

Truman Capote: Still Making Headlines

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Capote with the Maysels brothersTruman Capote: Literary Icon Garners Attention Again

Writing about the writers that have made Monroeville the Literary Capital of Alabama has given me the opportunity to learn a lot about those icons.  I’ve written extensively about Harper Lee, and her childhood neighbor and friend, Truman Capote.  When I heard about the sale of Capote’s ashes last week, I was a little in awe.  The fetching price of $45,000 doesn’t amaze me nearly as much as that Capote’s remains were actually sold at all.  In true Capote fashion, the flamboyant boy child of Monroeville is still making headlines.

Truman Capote: A Unique Memento

It seems an anonymous buyer purchased perhaps the most personal memento of his or her favorite author when they bought Truman Capote’s ashes from Julien’s Auctions of Los Angeles, CA, some 30 years after the novelist and screenplay writer’s death. It is the first time in recorded history that ashes of a deceased person have been sold at auction. I think Capote would have relished that fact.  He loved making history.

Truman Capote and Joanne Carson: The Friendship

The ashes had been cared for by Joanne Carson, former wife of Johnny Carson, with whom Truman Capote spent his final days. A dear friend of Capote, she is quoted as saying that having the ashes of the famed writer in her home “brought (her) great comfort.” It is rumored that before he died, Capote began to work on a memoir for Carson that was never completed.

Truman Capote: The Remains

When Capote passed away in 1984, the ashes belonging to Joanne Carson were worth as much as $6,000.00.  The President of the Auction House expected them to sell for more than $10,000.00 but could not have anticipated the phenomenal price they brought.  Competition for the ashes, housed in a carved wooden box from Japan and the original cemetery packaging from Westwood Village Mortuary, was intense.  Bidders haled from Russia, China, South America, and Germany, as well as the United States.

Capote’s ashes found their way to auction due to Carson’s death last year. Julien told CNN, “He (Capote) told her he didn’t want to sit on a shelf. This is definitely right in line with his wishes,” and, “If it wasn’t for it being Truman Capote, it would have been disrespectful.”  There is truth to this statement. Capote was always one seek the limelight, and somehow being sold at an auction that made headlines is fitting.

Truman Capote: In Good Company

Other items belonging to Capote were also sold: About fifty items including shirts, trousers, ice skates, a few books, and the shirt he wore on the day of his death were all sold to the highest bidders, most at prices from $50 to $2,000, according to the auction house. A small collection of Capote’s prescription bottles sold for $5,000.  The same auction brought in winning bids for items once owned by Steve Jobs and Dennis Hopper, and locks of Marilyn Monroe’s hair brought $70,000.

Truman Capote: “Rest in Peace” Just Doesn’t Fit

According to the auction house, the buyer of Truman Capote’s ashes has promised that the scribe’s adventures will live on.  No, it doesn’t seem that Truman Capote will ever rest in peace.  Then again, I am not sure he ever wanted to.

Yes, Truman Capote was talented and eccentric—but then, many of the best writers are.  Who is your favorite eccentric writer and why?  Let us know in the comments below.

Truman Capote:  Years of Influence

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Truman Capote by Jack Mitchell, Source: Wikipedia Commons
Truman Capote by Jack Mitchell, Source: Wikipedia Commons

Capote: Celebrating the Birth of One of Monroeville’s Own

The end of September would mark the 92nd birthday of a man that Monroeville claims as one of its famous, gifted children–Truman Capote.

Capote and Harper Lee

Capote, who spent much of the time during his formative years in Monroeville, was born Truman Streckfus Persons.  He was a dear friend from childhood of Nelle Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird; the character in Lee’s novel—Dill- bears striking resemblance to Capote.  Eventually, the two would work together to complete Capote’s 1966 true crime novel and the work for which he was best known, In Cold Blood.

Capote on Writing

It was while writing In Cold Blood that Capote refined his abilities to memorize long, detailed quotes from subjects.  The New York Times quotes Capote as saying that he had, ”a talent for mentally recording lengthy conversations, an ability I had worked to achieve while researching The Muses Are Heard, for I devoutly believe that the taking of notes, much less the use of a tape recorder, creates artifice and distorts or even destroys any naturalness that might exist between the observer and the observed, the nervous hummingbird and its would-be captor.”

Capote on Fame

While Capote was a gifted writer, his flamboyant persona sometimes reaped more notoriety than his written works.  He moved to New York City in 1933 and wrote for The New Yorker before publishing his first novel, Other Voices, Other Rooms in 1948. It was Other Voices, Other Rooms that made him a star and began a barrage of regular media attention, which by all accounts, he enjoyed immensely.  Capote was known to love (and share) a great bit of gossip, and for his quick and edgy wit.

”I had to be successful, and I had to be successful early,” Capote once said, ”The thing about people like me is that we always knew what we were going to do. Many people spend half their lives not knowing. But I was a very special person, and I had to have a very special life. I was not meant to work in an office or something, though I would have been successful at whatever I did. But I always knew that I wanted to be a writer and that I wanted to be rich and famous.”

Eventually, Capote became a familiar face on TV, and was often featured on the Johnny Carson show, among others.

Capote: Final Years

By the late 1970s, Capote was suffering from alcohol and drug abuse, and his star was fading somewhat. To keep his fame from waning, in 1975 he consented to allow Esquire to print excerpts from an unfinished book. The consequence was dire as Capote relayed apparently true and less than flattering stories about his circle of well-known friends, naming them and detailing their exploits.

Truman spent a good deal of his final years in the company of Joanne Carson, ex-wife of Johnny Carson, and passed away in her home on August 25, 1984 at the age of 59.

The Broadway play Tru was based on Capote’s life and offered a fresh voice to tell Capote’s story for the time it was in production (1989-90), five years after the author’s death.

Among his essays, novels, stories and screenplays, are The Grass Harp (1951), The Muses Are Heard (1956) and Music for Chameleons (1980).  His unpublished first novel, Summer Crossing, was found and sent to print in 2005.  Capote referred to the work as “the tiny terror.”  If you’re interested in reading more of Capote’s works, The Complete Stories of Truman Capote is a great place to start.

What are your favorite Capote works and why?  Let us know in the comments section below.

Remembering Harper Lee

Remembering Harper Lee

Remembering Harper LeeI was recently asked to share my thoughts in regards to remembering Harper Lee. Of course, I have written about her as much or more than any other blogger, and I suppose I knew this post was coming. My thoughts are not elegant, and they are likely not worthy of the author she was, but I have done my best these last few days to wrap my mind around a woman I never knew, yet one who’s done so very much to make me the writer I am… Here is my best attempt at remembering Harper Lee:

Not so very long ago in the grand scheme of things, I learned about a bookstore in a tiny, South Alabama town, and I fell a little bit in love.  The more I learned about Monroeville, Alabama, the more Monroeville felt like home.  It’s not—of course—I am little better than an outsider in Monroeville, but the impact this one, tiny town has had on my life is undeniable.  It captures me in a way that few other places on the planet ever have, and—from the outside looking in—a stranger could never fathom why.

Remembering Harper Lee: Hometown Literary Hero

Monroeville, AL, has the impressive distinction of Literary Capital of Alabama, and it has earned the moniker by being home to some true literary greats— Mark Childress, Truman Capote, the list seems almost limitless… but the crown jewel of Monroeville, the most extraordinary author who came from this place, of course, is Harper Lee, author of  To Kill a Mockingbird and the later released  Go Set a Watchman.

Remembering Harper Lee: Prevailing Impact on a Writer

We lost Harper Lee this year.  I had the bittersweet honor of writing the story that broke that news to the world.

You see, Harper Lee was the reason I ever found Monroeville on the map in the first place.  To Kill a Mockingbird had so impacted this place, this country, in fact, the entire globe, that a quest to write about the reclusive author led me there, both virtually and physically.  Monroeville was her home, and I was drawn to it.

Why did Harper Lee have such an impact on me?  Why did I want to write about her so much?  Perhaps it was because Harper Lee, whom I would come to think of as Miss Nelle (the moniker so lovingly used by the good folks of Monroeville), was a kindred spirit, separated by generations and terrain, but of the like mind that words can be used to set a path right, to make things better, and to generally stir the pot when the world gets too complacent.  Knowing she existed as she did, enjoying life modestly and dodging fanfare as much as possible, made me take stock of not only the reasons I write, but the fact that I write altogether.

Here’s the thing, and a confession: I’ve been something of a hack writer on occasion, and I write for profit to make ends meet.  I’m good at it, and it seems a good fit…as a single mother, every penny counts, and I’ve used my ability to write to survive. I’ve written about everything from lingerie to semi trucks—collected my paychecks and hurried along my way.

Nelle Harper Lee, and the OC Bookshoppe Project, made me slow down and consider the impact of my words, their value, perhaps to be more grateful for the gift that puts food on our table and buys new sneakers when the school year starts, and not to throw it completely away on product descriptions in catalogs and paragraphs that will grace the backs of after-school snack packaging… Nelle Harper Lee reminded me to write what matters.  In 1960, she published a volume with words that changed the world.  The book was based on what she knew best, the story life had given her to tell.  It has spurred me to look for writing material that matters, and –somewhere in the back of my mind—it has reminded me that I have my own story to tell.

Writing comes naturally to me… it always has, but the guidance I was given from an author I never met is a little bit of a miracle, because it has begun to shape my appreciation for writing altogether.  I still write product descriptions, I still edit whitepapers, I still create website content for companies that are trying to sell things, but –in addition to that—there is always at least one truly worthy project on my desk.  In fact, at this moment, there are two.  I am editing and revising one, and I am up to my elbows in the first draft of the other… these are pieces that will never live up to the standards of Mockingbird, but they may be as close as I come, and I believe that at least one soul on this planet who reads them will be a little better for it.

Remembering Harper Lee: Gifts and Inspiration

How do you thank someone who offered you inspiration to do better?  I honestly don’t know the answer to that, and I won’t get the opportunity in this lifetime, but if heaven is real, I plan to find Miss Nelle on the other side and hug her neck.  She gave me direction, and reminded me that writing is an art, and she put words back into my life when I’d almost forgotten how beautiful they could be.

Today, when I walk the streets of tiny Monroeville, AL, and soak up how much it feels like home, I realize that legacy has everything in the world to do with Miss Nelle and the words she wrote about this place.  I can’t express enough gratitude for that gift and the inspiration it has been to begin to tell my own story.

Book Signing with Greg Neri, author of Tru and Nelle

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We are so excited to announce that we will be having a book signing here at Ol’ Curiosities and Book Shoppe next week. Greg Neri, author of several middle grade and young adult novels, will be signing his most recent book, Tru & Nelle,  here at OCBS next Thursday, March 31st from 6 PM to 8 PM. Tru & Nelle is a fictional tale based on the childhood friendship of our very own Truman Capote and Nelle Harper Lee.

61PJU-i+URLAbout Tru & Nelle

Long before they became well known writers, two children met one day in Monroeville, Alabama. One was the daughter of a local lawyer; the other, a young boy whose gypsy parents left him with his adult cousins.

The two became fast friends.

Their names were Nelle Harper Lee and Truman Capote, Tru for short.

In the fictionalized story of the real-life childhood companionship of these two famous writers, young Tru and Nelle go on a Sherlock and Watson style mystery hunt to track down who is vandalizing buildings in town. More importantly, we get a glimpse again of Monroeville, Alabama, in the 1930s. And we get an idea of what young Tru and Nelle were like as children, long before In Cold Blood or To Kill A Mockingbird were ever thought of.

Excerpt:

When Truman first spotted Nelle, he thought she was a boy. She was watching him like a cat, perched on a crooked stone wall that separated their rambling wood homes. Barefoot and dressed in overalls with a boyish haircut, Nelle looked to be about his age, but it was hard for Truman to tell — he was trying to avoid her stare by pretending to read his book.

“Hey, you,” she finally said.

Truman gazed up from the pages. He was sitting quietly on a wicker chair on the side porch of his cousins’ house, dressed in a little white sailor suit.

“Are you . . . talking to me?” he said in a high wispy voice.

“Come here,” she commanded.

He straightened his little white suit and wandered slowly past the trellises of wisteria vines and japonica flowers until he came upon the stone wall.

Truman was taken aback. He scrunched up his face; he’d been confused by Nelle’s short hair and overalls. “You’re a . . . girl?”

Nelle stared back at him even harder. Truman’s high voice, white-blond hair, and sailor outfit had thrown her for a loop too.

“You’re a boy?” she asked, incredulous.

Photo by Edward Linsmier
Photo by Edward Linsmier

About Greg Neri

In addition to Tru & NelleGreg Neri is the author of several middle grade and young adult novels, including Ghetto Cowboy, and Hello, I’m Johnny Cash. Neri’s awards include a Coretta Scott King honor, and the Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award. Besides writing, Neri has experience as a filmmaker, animator/illustrator, and a digital media producer. Neri is a founding member of The Truth anti-smoking campaign as well.

Neri presently writes full time and lives in Florida with his wife and daughter.

 

If you are able to come, we would love to have you attend this book signing! If you would like, you can call us at 251-494-9356 or come by OCBS and reserve a copy of Tru & Nelle today. Then come back and join us next week and have your book signed and chat with Mr. Neri!

Please note: Any books ordered directly through the website prior to the event will not be signed, unless it is specified.

Thank you so much for all that you do! We truly appreciate each and every one of you!

The 19th Annual Alabama Writers Symposium

2016 Alabama Writers Symposium
2016 Alabama Writers Symposium
2016 Alabama Writers Symposium

It is almost time for the Annual Alabama Writers Symposium, the literary event held in the literary capital of Alabama. The Alabama Writers Symposium was started by the Alabama Center for Literary Arts and is sponsored and hosted by Alabama Southern Community College. This year will be the 19th year that the event will be held. The dates  are March 31st – April 1st. Each year there brings a new theme, and this year’s theme is The Elephant in the Room.

2016 Guests/Speakers

There are some familiar faces returning for this years Alabama Writers Symposium, along with a few new ones. They will be leading discussion sessions, and the Harper Lee and Eugene Current Garcia Winners will speak at their awards gala. The lineup includes:

  • E.O. Wilson, the 2016 Harper Lee award winner
  • Greg Neri, author of Tru and Nelle
  • Kim Cross
  • Wayne Flynt, author and historian
  • Frye Gaillard, the 2016 Eugene Current-Garcia winner
  • Nancy Anderson
  • Chervis Isom
  • William Cobb
  • Kirk Curnutt
  • Dan Puckett
  • Ben Raines
  • Marianne Moates, author of Truman Capote’s Southern Years
  • Jennifer Horne
  • Don Noble
  • PowerLines Poetry
  • Artisans from the Poarch Band of Creek Indians
  • Songwriter CJ Watson

What To Expect This Year:

If you’re an Alabama Writers Symposium veteran, you may notice that things are just a little bit different this year. For one thing, the event normally spans over three days but this year everything will take place over only two days. There is also a new lady in charge, ASCC librarian Alisha Linam. However, even though the time frame is a little shorter, there will still be plenty of authors and scholars to see, and plenty of discussions and sessions to attend. There will be sessions held on Thursday and Friday. There will be an Awards Gala honoring the Harper Lee and Eugene-Current Garcia award winners, E.O. Wilson and Frye Gaillard. E.O. Wilson will also be speaking at the awards gala. There will also be discussion sessions with the award winners, as well as a fish fry luncheon on Friday. For more information or questions, you can visit the ASCC website, www.ascc.edu, or you can call or email Alisha Linam at (251) 575-8271 or alinam@ascc.edu.

What are your thoughts on the speakers? Have you heard of or read anything by any of them? Will you be attending this years symposium? We hope to see some of you there!