Novelists, poets, historians, biographers, and more — we bring both new authors and old favorites to talk with you about their latest books. We also host book groups and celebrate new releases and other special occasions.
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Thursday, April 27, 6 p.m.: Book signing with UT assistant professor Mary Campbell, who will discuss her book Charles Ellis Johnson and the Erotic Mormom Image.
On September 25, 1890, the Mormon prophet Wilford Woodruff publicly instructed his followers to abandon polygamy. In doing so, he initiated a process that would fundamentally alter the Latter-day Saints and their faith. Trading the most integral elements of their belief system for national acceptance, the Mormons recreated themselves as model Americans.
Mary Campbell tells the story of this remarkable religious transformation in Charles Ellis Johnson and the Erotic Mormon Image. One of the church’s favorite photographers, Johnson (1857–1926) spent the 1890s and early 1900s taking pictures of Mormonism’s most revered figures and sacred sites. At the same time, he did a brisk business in mail-order erotica, creating and selling stereoviews that he referred to as his “spicy pictures of girls.” Situating these images within the religious, artistic, and legal culture of turn-of-the-century America, Campbell reveals the unexpected ways in which they worked to bring the Saints into the nation’s mainstream after the scandal of polygamy.
Engaging, interdisciplinary, and deeply researched, Charles Ellis Johnson and the Erotic Mormon Image demonstrates the profound role pictures played in the creation of both the modern Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the modern American nation.
Do you party at bookstores? We do, especially on Independent Bookstore Day! Join the celebration on Saturday, April 29.
We’ll have door prizes, giveaways, readings, and light refreshments.
About Independent Bookstore Day: Independent Bookstore Day is a one-day national party that takes place at indie bookstores across the country on the last Saturday in April. Every store is unique and independent, and every party is different. But in addition to giveaways, readings, refreshments, and other fun stuff, there are exclusive books and literary items that you can only get on that day. Not before. Not after. Not online.
Saturday, May 13, 4–6 p.m.: Book signings with Griffyn Ink authors Steve Bradshaw, A.J. Scudiere, D.B. Sieders, Victoria Raschke, and Savannah Kade, who will read from their work.
Tuesday, May 16, 7 p.m.: New York Times bestselling author and National Book Award Winner Nathaniel Philbrick will discuss his newest book, Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold and the Fate of the American Revolution, at the East Tennessee History Center.
The event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited, and advance registration on the Friends website is encouraged.
Wednesday, May 17, 6 p.m.: The Southern Authors Book Group will discuss Little Sister Death by William Gay.
David Binder is a young, successful writer living in Chicago and suffering from writer’s block. He stares at the blank page, and the blank page stares back until inspiration strikes in the form of a ghost story that captivated him as a child. With his pregnant wife and young daughter in tow, he sets out to explore the myth of Virginia Beale, Faery Queen of the Haunted Dell. But as his investigation takes him deeper and deeper into the legacy of blood and violence that casts its shadow over the old Beale farm, Binder finds himself obsessed with a force that’s as wicked as it is seductive.
A stirring literary rendition of Tennessee’s famed Curse of the Bell Witch, Little Sister Death skillfully toes the line between Southern Gothic and horror, and further cements William Gay’s legacy as not only one of the South’s finest writers, but among the best that American literature has to offer.
Wednesday, May 31, noon: The Bookaholics will discuss Iza’s Ballad by Magda Szabo.
Iza’s Ballad is a striking story of the relationship between a mother and a daughter. Ettie, the mother, is old and from an older world than the rapidly modernizing Communist Hungary of the years after World War II. From a poor family and without formal education, Ettie has devoted her life to the cause of her husband, Vince, a courageous magistrate who had been blacklisted for political reasons before the war. Iza, their daughter, is as brave and conscientious as her father: Active in the resistance against the Nazis, she is now a doctor and a force for progress. Iza lives and works in Budapest, and when Vince dies, she is quick to bring Ettie to the city to make sure her mother is close and can be cared for. She means to do everything right, and Ettie is eager to do everything to the satisfaction of the daughter she is so proud of. But good intentions aside, mother and daughter come from two different worlds and have different ideas of what it means to lead a good life. Though they struggle to accommodate each other, increasingly they misunderstand and hurt each other, and the distance between them widens into an abyss.