Home Authors Posts by Amy Bonesteel

Amy Bonesteel


10 standout books with Georgia ties that you might have missed in 2018

At libraries around the metro area, shelves full of newly released books are held on reserve, waiting for impatient readers. Author visits at the Margaret Mitchell House, Wren’s Nest, or the Atlanta History Center are often packed; book clubs are springing up everywhere; and literary events like the AJC Decatur Book Festival and the Book Festival of the MJCCA bring national authors to our doorstep. Social media has made it easier than ever to connect with the region’s rich, diverse, and growing writing talent as well as like-minded readers. Take a look through a favorite writer’s Instagram or Goodreads account, and start building your own list of must-reads. Here are a few of our favorites from this year’s releases.


Best 2018 regional booksBrass
Xhenet Aliu
A debut by Aliu, who lives and works in Athens, this mother-daughter novel is set in a working-class Rust Belt town nicknamed the Brass City. Bringing to mind Mona Simpson’s Anywhere But Here, the book features characters who have plenty of self-deprecating charm. Plus, who can resist a novel that name-drops Scooby Doo and Billy Squier?

Best 2018 regional booksDoll-E 1.0
Shanda McCloskey
The timing is right for a children’s picture book (ages 4-7) about an emerging engineer—who happens to be female. This STEM-infused story of techie child Charlotte and her “redesign” of a simple doll features lively pencil-watercolor cartoons by McCloskey, a former art teacher from Forsyth County.

Best 2018 regional booksThe Glass Ocean
Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, Karen White
The three-author team behind The Forgotten Room reunites for this historical mystery-romance centered on the doomed RMS Lusitania. With each writing one of three characters, it’s easy to guess that White (who lives in Milton and pens “grit lit”) takes on the Southern belle Caroline Telfair Hochstetter.

Best 2018 regional books

Gods of Howl Mountain
Taylor Brown
Brown (who was born in Georgia but is now a North Carolinian) tells the tale of Rory, a Korean War veteran who has returned to his isolated mountain home—minus his leg—and drives for a ruthless, protective family of Blue Ridge bootleggers in 1952. This is mountain literature made of beautiful, brooding prose.

Best 2018 regional books

Pieces of Her
Karin Slaughter
Set on the Georgia coast, Pieces of Her follows a responsible, sincere mother named Laura and her aimless, 31-year-old daughter. After a seemingly random shooting at a mall diner reveals Laura’s violent past, the tale jumps between present and 1986, examining the choices two generations of women face. (A TV version is in the works.)


Best 2018 regional books

Atticus Finch: The Biography
Joseph Crespino
Scholars have long concluded that Harper Lee patterned Atticus Finch after her father, A.C. Lee, an attorney and newspaper editor. But by examining Lee’s editorials during the tumultuous times of war, politics, and racial unrest, Emory University history professor Crespino argues that the “real” Atticus was a much more complicated figure.

Best 2018 regional books

Green Card Youth Voices
First-person essays by refugee and immigrant teenagers from Cross Keys High School, Clarkston High School, and DeKalb International Student Center shine a bright light on the excruciating and traumatic experiences families can go through to live here. Their often new-user feel of English adds an especially tender tone to these testimonials.

Best 2018 regional books

Inspired Design
Jennifer Boles
“I spent so much time working on this book while cloistered in my home, some of my neighbors assumed I had moved or died,” Atlanta-based Boles writes on her blog, the Peak of Chic, about this history of designers. Legends including Elsie de Wolfe, Yves Saint Laurent, and David Hicks—plus lesser-known names—come to life through timeless interiors.

Best 2018 regional books

Patricia Williams
This raunchy and inspiring tale is also a hilarious autobiography. Growing up on Atlanta’s west side in the 1980s, Williams, better known as comedian Ms. Pat, had to raise herself and her baby. From rolling drunks at an illegal liquor house to cutting up “rocks,” she’s a survivor—and still laughing.

Best 2018 regional books

Modern Greek Cooking
Pano Karatassos
Even if the idea of pickling a whole octopus seems daunting, anyone who’s tasted Chef Pano’s sublime dish at Kyma will be on board. (An entire chapter offers step-by-step encouragement.) The meze section alone is a feast of spreads, grilled meat, and crusty breads, and beautiful photographs will set mouths watering.

This article appears in our December 2018 issue.

A man in composite: Who inspired Charlie Croker’s resume?

Photograph by Caroline C. Kilgore
Photograph by Caroline C. Kilgore

Well before its 1998 publication, Tom Wolfe’s Atlanta-centric “A Man in Full” was the talk of Buckhead’s cocktail party circuit; once the 742-page opus hit shelves, the chatter became deafening. In response to Wolfe’s theme of racial tension (one plot twist: a KKK rally staged to lower property values), former mayor Sam Massell “disinvited” Wolfe from a Buckhead Coalition luncheon and then-mayor Bill Campbell released a statement touting Atlanta’s “history of racial harmony.” Fueling all this controversy: the AJC “Wolfe Watch” column. When the author appeared at the Borders store in Buckhead, more than 1,000 fans stood in line—some for nine hours. Wolfe’s protagonist Charlie Croker, the 60-year-old builder of high-rises and Old-Meets-New South blowhard, was fictional, but the “King of the Crackers” bore a likeness to several Atlanta businessmen, blistering Buckhead society like a shotgun blast to defenseless quail. Everyone claimed to know who “Charlie” really was—the problem was, nobody could agree.

Back to the 90s

This article originally appeared in our March 2015 issue.

Buckhead’s silver thief has sterling taste

Forget about the polishing and dusting that accompany those monogrammed mint julep cups handed down by Great-Grandmother. Buckhead residents have a new worry when it comes to their sterling silver after a string of thefts perpetuated by a particularly crafty—and picky—burglar.

Stately homes on Tuxedo Road, Woodward Way, and Northside Drive have been cased, and then hit, by a type-A thief patient enough to painstakingly chisel, remove, and replace door panels. “It almost looks like he sweeps up after himself,” says Atlanta Police Department’s Zone 2 Detective Drew Bahry, the lead investigator on the string of crimes.

Not only is he fastidious, but the thief unerringly heads straight for the sterling, leaving silver-plated items, jewelry, and even laptops or iPhones behind. As any collector—or fan of Antiques Roadshow—knows, it’s not easy to tell silver plate from the real deal, especially in the dark. So how is the burglar able to determine the difference? That’s what’s making high-end silver-store clerks, collectors, and Buckheadians a little bit nervous.

“These are professional people who know what they are doing,” says one silver-shop worker who declined to be named. The culprit’s techniques certainly seem to be rooted in knowledge, agrees silver historian and appraiser Joseph P. Brady. Silver dealers know “little tricks,” says Brady. “For example, when you see a large tray and the field of the tray is plain, chances are it is sterling. If it were engraved or featured scrollwork, it is more likely to be plate in order to hide scratches,” which would reveal the copper underneath the silver coating. It’s also probable the bandit is savvy about the neighborhood: so attuned to the well-heeled addresses, he knows which homes are more likely to contain old-money sterling compared to nouveau-riche plate.

There’s little hope any heirlooms will be recovered. The swiped silver is in all likelihood melted down, since, like gold, silver currently trades high (more than $28 per troy ounce). Sterling is relatively easy to convert to cash. It takes only a simple Internet search to get instructions on do-it-yourself silver melting, says Bahry. A pillowcase stuffed with fifty pounds of teapots, spoons, and gravy ladles can easily yield $20,000. With several homeowners robbed of up to and over $150,000 worth of silver, “he’s onto us for almost a million,” Bahry notes of the burglar.

The flatware felonies make residents question the effectiveness of alarm systems. The burglar squeezes through spaces only motion detectors—which many homeowners don’t use because pets can set them off—could sense. Because chiseling doors is noisy, the thief often strikes between 2 and 4 a.m., selecting two-story homes whose owners are likely to sleep upstairs.

Whatever the thief’s technique, homeowners have increased their watch. One longtime resident of 30305 whose sterling was swiped says she finds it “personally insulting not to be able to have pretty things.” While she and her husband were in bed, the intruder(s) entered the kitchen and grabbed a tray full of antique flatware. She advises: “Get a dog. Set the motion detector at night. And keep your appraisals up to date.”

This article originally appeared in our May 2013 issue.

Is There an Atlanta Accent?


Newcomers to the city who expect to hear Hollywood’s idea of the Southern drawl will be disappointed. A true Atlanta accent—one you could overhear in a barbershop or beauty salon, in an office on Piedmont Road, or at a meeting of the Buckhead Boys—tends to be much more understated than Kyra Sedgwick’s dreadful twangy chirp on The Closer.

Tangible gentleness is a sign of authenticity, notes Allyn Partin, a dialect coach who has worked with actors such as John Cusack and John Goodman. “There is a musicality—it’s not hick or over-the-top Southern belle. The vowels are more rounded.”

An excellent exemplar of Atlanta speech is former mayor and lifetime Atlantan Sam Massell, says Dr. Susan Tamasi, a linguistics professor at Emory University. “[Massell] tends to do what we call r-deletion: When an r follows a vowel, the r is either not pronounced or minimally pronounced.” This, she says, means that the r becomes “slight” in words such as opportunity (opp-ah-tunity) or whatever (what-eh-vah). Often associated with dialects from coastal Georgia and South Carolina, when heard in Atlanta such speech is “generally from [Massell’s] generation and older,” she says. Dropped r’s are the most distinctive pattern in classic Atlanta speech, agrees Partin, who says that when preparing scripts for actors who need to do a Southern accent, a first step is to “just draw a slash in red through every r they need to drop.”

Similarities between British and Southern inflections may explain why some of the most stalwart Atlanta accents on film remain those of English actors Leslie Howard and Vivien Leigh in Gone with the Wind. According to Partin, the r-drop-off and vowel linkage from word to word (father is as fah-thiz, for example) happen here as well as in the U.K.

Another key Atlanta characteristic is a rhythmic feel, which can be heard in businessman-turned-politico-turned-radio host Herman Cain’s speech. “There is a bounciness to it, no staccato,” says Partin. Cain, who grew up in Atlanta, demonstrates especially Southern vowel sounds: “He says the word then with the vowel closer to the vowel in they as opposed to pen, but with an additional schwa thrown in, so it sounds something like they-en,” says Tamasi. Cain also pronounces with as having an f sound at the end instead of th, which Tamasi describes as a “very common feature of African American English heard all around Atlanta.”

Exposure to media, an influx of “new” dialects in cities, and peer influence can make distinctive speech fade, say linguists. As Tamasi explains, “Language is closely related to identity: who you are around, how you present yourself. It can all be completely subconscious.”

Photograph of Cain by AP Photo; photograph of Massell by Gregory Miller. This article originally appeared in the November 2012 issue.

Follow Us