Ann Hite, fifty-three, has lived in the Smyrna/Vinings area most of her life. A former technical specialist for a division of BP Oil, Hite has gone from writing case histories of petroleum products to writing novels. Ghost on Black Mountain marks her debut, but she already is well under way on two sequels that feature some of the same richly drawn characters.
David Bottoms, who turned sixty-two on September 11, has been Georgia’s poet laureate since 2000. In 2009, he was inducted into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame, honoring a body of work that blends narrative and lyrical poetry inspired by domestic life and mystical notions. One recent afternoon, he was putting sunflowers in a vase while he talked about his latest collection of poems, We Almost Disappear. All of your collections have a very distinctive tone. How would you characterize this one? This one is kind of an old person’s book. As you get older—you’ll know this someday—you start to think about different things. I remember seeing [James] Dickey just a few months before he died, at a party for him over at Emory, and he just looked at me. He had a big glass of chocolate milk—he had given up alcohol finally—and he said out of the blue, “David, there’s nothing more important than family.” I thought that was kind of an irony, since he had done just about everything in his life to destroy his family. And it was totally out of context. But evidently that’s what obsessed him late in life. I get that now. Some of the most moving poems in this book are about your father in the last years of his life. After he died [in 2009], they figured out he had leukemia. We didn’t even know that. He was in terrible pain, and all he ever took for it was Tylenol. He just ate Tylenol like candy. And he just sort of withered away. It was long and painful, and he wouldn’t go to the doctor. His name was David Bottoms, too? Yes, I am a Junior, although I never used it. It was just too much trouble. Your mother is still living? She is eighty-five and living in the family home in Canton. She’s very frail, but she won’t leave the house. Now that you think about such things, how do you feel about getting older? Well, you know, you’re blessed to be able to get older. I’m very happy where I am in my life.
In her haunting debut novel, Ghost on Black Mountain (Gallery Books), Ann Hite interweaves and overlaps the stories of five women whose lives are bound together by a murder in rural 1930s North Carolina. Each woman’s revelation forces a slight recalibration of the truth and gives great depth to a good old-fashioned ghost story. The spirits link history and the afterlife, dropping eerie hints—and not-so-subtle warnings—before vanishing into the woods. The author, fifty-three, lives in the Smyrna-Vinings area and learned the art of Southern Gothic storytelling the time-honored way: sitting on the porch, listening to her elders. A 2004 North Carolina getaway inspired her to write. “When I went home, the character Nellie made an appearance in my mind,” Hite says. “She spoke the first two sentences of Ghost on Black Mountain: ‘Mama warned me against marrying Hobbs Pritchard. She saw my future in her tea leaves: death.’ I couldn’t resist. I had to know, what death? And who in the world was Hobbs Pritchard?” Hite paints a loving portrait of rural mountain life in the early twentieth century, and characters are nuanced and true.
To mark his eighty-fifth birthday, veteran crooner Tony Bennett has released a new album, Duets II, featuring famous friends, including former Atlantan John Mayer and the late Amy Winehouse. Before Bennett once again hits the Fox Theatre stage on November 25, we posed a few questions about his remarkable sixty years in show business. I’m pleased to report that your name is already up on the Fox Theatre marquee for your November 25 concert here. Do you remember the first time you played the Fox? I do. It was years and years ago. Back then, there was a chain of Fox Theatres. I played the one in Atlanta, there was one in the Midwest, there’s one in San Francisco. They’re beautiful. They’re like the Radio City Music Hall. They’re a lot larger than a lot of the other theaters and acoustically they’re perfect. That’s where I like to work. I don’t like the big stadiums.
Athens writer Amy Flurry and former Addiction boutique owner Nikki Salk have madly cut and glued their way out of the economic downturn. Their Paper-Cut-Project—in which they transform ordinary Bristol paper into distinctive, delightfully detailed wigs, masks, and accessories—began as a creative outlet after the magazine Flurry wrote for folded and Salk’s boutique closed. It has since morphed into a booming cottage industry.
When the finale to your hilarious, avert your eyes music video features you frolicking in a fountain while displaying some open-mouth PDAs, casting can be everything. No one has ever accused singer-songwriter Graham Colton of being stupid. "We cast my wife," says Colton of the video for his single, "Pacific Coast Eyes." The singer, who first shot to fame with his 2008 hit single "Best Days" (used on both "American Idol" and "Oprah"), comes to Vinyl at Centerstage in Atlanta Wednesday night to introduce fans to songs from his latest project, "Pacific Coast Eyes, Volume 2." "The director told us, 'I have this idea for an elaborate, sarcastic make-out scene in the middle of a fountain.' The chance for hitting a rough patch in your relationship is greatly reduced when the beautiful woman you're making out with is your wife." The video features Colton running and singing. For three minutes. So, is he a runner in real life? "Oh, hell no!" he concedes chuckling. "I haven't run like that since I played football in high school. I just said to the director, 'I don't want to be the guy with the guitar, lip-syncing for the camera again.' We had some fun with it."
We are familiar with the outlines of the story by now: a black man who, after being born to poverty in Georgia, ascends to political prominence by dint of his talent and work ethic. His biography becomes a first-person testament to the virtues of self-reliance, faith, and the still vast possibilities of this nation. His ascent troubles liberals and many African Americans but among conservatives his future is virtually limitless. That is, until charges of sexual harassment arise and he is forced into the quagmires of race and gender which had been so studiously avoided up to that point.
Politico dropped a bomb on the Herman Cain campaign tonight: During Herman Cain’s tenure as the head of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s, at least two female employees complained to colleagues and senior association officials about inappropriate behavior by Cain, ultimately leaving their jobs at the trade group, multiple sources confirm to POLITICO.