2002 in print: Looking back at local lights
As usual, literary Charlottesville exits the year with aplomb.
No fewer than four works tracing their origin to Charlottesville appeared in the year’s penultimate issue of The New York Times Sunday Book Review: Lauren Winner’s confessional memoir, Girl Meets God received a glowing commendation, as did Gary Will’s slim history, Mr. Jefferson’s University, and Choosing Naia, the moving story of Tierney and Greg Fairchild’s embrace of Down Syndrome.
Meanwhile, on the back page, Judith Shulevitz asserted, “Stoicism is hot!” citing UVA professor Merrill Peters’ new translation of Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations (as well as Russell Crowe in a tunic) as proof.
All in a good week’s work, one might say proudly of the area’s prolific writers.
My informal tally of local authors who published in 2002 is about to top 40. I’m classifying California as local when it applies to Earl (Good Night, John Boy) Hamner. And I’m considering all efforts at publication to be equal, whether undertaken by Houghton Mifflin, UVA, or Monkey Boy Press of Ruckersville.
I’m also, in some instances, squeezing late 2001 books onto my list, because that enables me to include Jennifer Ackerman’s marvelous natural history, Chance in the House of Fate as one of the Best of 2002. (Hey, that’s when it came out in paperback.)
Joining Ackerman at the top of my list is Joyce Allan, whose brave book on incest, Because I Love You, draws from her own past, and When I was a Little Boy I was a Black Panther, written and illustrated to perfection by Bob Anderson.
Last but not least, I congratulate George Singleton, who actually lives down in South Carolina somewhere, but who came up this summer to read from his hilarious collection The Half-Mammals of Dixie and has already signed up for next year’s Festival of the Book.
Speaking of which… the 2002 VABook! was another record-breaker. I do believe that with Singleton lurking in the corners and Lee Smith as the keynote speaker, we’re likely to see 20,000 attendees in 2003. And then won’t the New York Times come sniffing?
You’re asking what’s a “Best of” index without its complementary list of “the year’s worst?” Diplomatic, that’s what.
But if someone, anyone, would give me a little feedback here at firstname.lastname@example.org, I’d be happy to dish the dirt.