Wednesday, November 26, 2008

New Hours at the Childhood Home!

For almost two decades, the Flannery O'Connor Childhood Home has sustained itself purely through the effort of volunteers. It's been a remarkable run.

But now the Childhood Home has entered a new phase. The board of directors recently hired Toby Aldrich as our first ever employee. Toby will work 24 hours per week. So as of November 16, the Flannery O'Connor Childhood Home is open from 1 to 4 p.m. every day except Thursday (closed major holidays and the first two weeks of September and January). $5 for adults, free for those 12 and younger.

Among his many other duties, Toby will join me in making posts to this blog, which we hope will develop into just one of many ways in which we reach out to our past and future supporters.

This is an incredibly exciting moment in the 20 year history of the Childhood Home

Friday, November 21, 2008

Landings Book Club Tour

Flannery's Childhood Home was visited by 10 members of the Landings (Savannah, GA) Book Club. In preparation for their visit, the members read Flannery's first published collection of short stories, A Good Man Is Hard To Find. Our special thanks to Beth Larance for her interest in Flannery's works and contacting the Childhood Home on behalf of the Club. The other guests were Larry Larance, Ken & Carol-Lee McKenna, Howard & Alice Welt, Don & Kay Gardner, Diane Logan and Walter Fraser.
Every effort will be made to accommodate those wishing to tour Flannery's Childhood Home. Please call or email to set up an appointment.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

O'Connor: The most important female writer for me to read?

Just came across this article from Esquire last month:

A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories is #10 on the magazine's list of The 75 Books Every Man Should Read. O'Connor is preceded by 9 men: Raymond Carver, John Cheever, James Dickey, John Steinbeck, Cormac McCarthy, Dostoevsky, Edward P. Jones (The Known World), Studs Terkel, and Philip Roth.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Photos from our October party

Check out these great photos from our big party in October at the unbelievably wonderful home of Connie and Walter Hartridge:

Monday, November 10, 2008

John Berendt weighs in on O'Connor

Some interesting comments from our friend John Berendt over at eric forbes's book addict's guide to good books:

In an interesting interview he said in part:
"Despite the commercial nature of the publishing industry, there are still many publishing houses willing to publish literary books even though they expect modest sales at best. None of Flannery O’Connor’s books, for example, ever sold more than 3,000 copies, and she was arguably one of the most important American literary figures of the 20th century."


"Flannery O’Connor is one of the half-dozen finest American writers of the 20th century, in my opinion. A very dark humour runs throughout her stories, and she has an uncanny facility for describing people’s faces in highly original and imaginative ways."

Visitors and more visitors

It's a small world.

I docented on Saturday afternoon, and the first visitor was Annie Coggan, whom I met a number of years ago. She's now in Mississippi and wrote about her visit on her blog Chairs and Buildings.

Later that same afternoon, we were visited by Anne Trubek, an Oberlin professor who is writing a book about authors' house museums. She suggested that we might be the only such museum in the country that's devoted to an author's childhood. As it turns out, Anne is good friends with one of my oldest friends from high school in Kentucky.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Our Fall Lecture Series

This fall we are continuing our long tradition of offering free Sunday lectures and readings at 3:00 p.m. in the Flannery O'Connor Childhood Home parlor

We've got a great lineup, and we hope to see some of you there.

Here you go:

Flannery O’Connor Fall Lecture SeriesChildhood Home
207 East Charlton Street
Sundays at 3:00 pm in the O’Connor Parlor
October 19
Starkey Flythe, Jr., re-founding editor of The Saturday Evening Post in the 1980’s and winner of the University of Iowa Press award for a collection of short stories, Lent: The Slow Fast, will read from his fiction and discuss Flannery O’Connor’s influence on his writing. Flythe’s poetry draws from life experiences that include Army service in Africa, editor for two national magazines, and a student of the classics. His poem, “I once took a shower with Dan Rather” is based on one of those life experiences.

October 26
Bill Dawers
will speak on “Flannery O’Connor and the Popular Imagination.” Bill, president of the Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home Foundation, is a professor of English at Armstrong Atlantic State University and for the last eight years, has been writing the “City Talk” column for the Savannah Morning News.

November 2
Kalenda Eaton, a professor of English at Armstrong Atlantic State University will guide a reading group discussion titled, "Mother, Son, and Holy Ghost" based on Flannery O'Connor's story “Everything that Rises Must Converge.” Dr. Eaton earned her Master’s and Doctorate degrees in English with an emphasis in 20th Century African American Literature from Ohio State University. Attendees are obviously encouraged to read the story beforehand.

November 9
Sarah Gordon and Craig Amason
will discuss A Literary Guide to Flannery O'Connor's Georgia, published last spring by the University of Georgia Press. Sarah Gordon, editor, is a professor emerita of English at Georgia College and State University. For many years she chaired GC&SU’s internationally renowned symposia on O’Connor and has authored two books on O’Connor. Craig Amason, consulting editor of the Guide, is executive director of Andalusia, the Flannery O’Connor house museum and the Flannery O’Connor-Andalusia Foundation.

November 16
Mary Villeponteaux
, a professor of Literature at Georgia Southern University and a Renaissance scholar, will draw us back into the 16th Century with her talk: "Cruel Queens and Tender Maidens: The Gendering of Mercy in Shakespeare's Plays." Dr. Villeponteaux earned her PhD at Louisiana State University.

December 14
Bob Strozier, a former AASU prof and one of the founders of the O'Connor Home 20 years ago, will give his traditional holiday reading of Truman Capote's "A Christmas Memory"

Lecture Series coordinated by Dr. James Smith

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Silent auction items for the the fundraiser

I'll be updating this post over the next couple of weeks with both photos and new listings, so please keep checking in.

Items for the silent auction on Oct. 11:
  • "Magnolia," a magnificent etching by artist Curtis Bartone (seen at right)
  • An off-season week's stay at a classic Tybee beach house owned by Scott Center at 18th Place and Butler -- it sleeps ten and has wrap-around porches on both levels. I rented it for a week in 2007 for a family reunion -- it's an extraordinary property. Advance and absentee bids starting at $1800 accepted for this one. Email Bill Dawers.
  • Gift certificate from Local 11ten, which has become one of the city's premier restaurants
  • Gift certificate from Eos, perhaps Savannah's hottest new restaurant

  • One of the "babies" (above) that lined the steps of the Jepson Center for the Arts in 2007 as part of Marcus Kenney's amazing exhibit
  • Three pen and ink works by Betsy Cain; best-known for her abstract work, these three pieces -- done with ink made by the artist herself from her uncle's black walnut tree -- are scenes of Ossabaw Island; the works will be auctioned separately but would be perfect for hanging together    
  • Gift certificate to Kasey's Gourmet Grille
  • Tickets to the Creative Minds lecture series sponsored by Savannah Country Day School
  • A tasting dinner for 4 at Cha-Bella

  • A signed copy of the book Snowbound and a signed 8"x10" print of "Emergence" (above) by photographer Lisa M. Robinson, whose work has been praised in publications like The New Yorker and The Wall Street Journal
  • 4 tickets to any Savannah Music Festival event
  • Gift certificate to Magnolia Spa 
  • A tile painting party at Starlight Pottery
  • A gift package that includes a gift certificate to A Whimsical Tea Cup on Abercorn
  • Two silver passes to the Savannah Film Festival
  • Gift certificate to Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, opening this fall at Bay and Whitaker streets
  • A private tapas and paella dinner for 6
  • A new piece by artist Gerome Temple

Keep checking back for more items, information, and links.

Party and Fundraiser to be held on October 11

Our major fall fundraiser will be on Oct. 11 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the famed Battersby-Hartridge House at 119 East Charlton St. Built by William Battersby, a business partner of Andrew Low who lived just across the street on the southwest trust lot on Lafayette Square, the home later passed into the Hartridge family, and then into other hands. The home was fittingly purchased in the late 20th century by Walter and Connie Hartridge, who will be our hosts for the evening.

It's $100/person. I know that's a lot of money, esp. in uncertain times like these, but it should be a great event, and a successful fundraiser is absolutely critical to our ongoing programs.

A few highlights:

  • Catering by Robbie Wood and Green Tomato Concepts. Robbie was for years the Executive Chef of Georges' of Tybee and his inventive foray into organic and local fare has drawn rave reviews.
  • Open bar, including some choice wine from Le Chai.
  • Jazz by piano phenom Brendan Polk and his trio.
  • An open house at the O'Connor Home, which is in the next block.
  • An amazing silent auction -- more on that in my next post.

Invitations should be received over the next day or two. If you don't receive one but are interested in coming, PLEASE just shoot me a quick email and I will answer any questions you have and make sure we have your contact info up to date.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Robert Giroux, RIP

I'm sure there are still some publishers who might one day be considered literary heroes or cultural icons. But it seems that the business of books has made it harder for publishers and agents to pursue quality like they used to, to hold fast to their ideals like they used to.

Robert Giroux died a few days ago. The 94-year old played a pivotal role in the all-too-short career of Flannery O'Connor, and his warm friendship with her is obvious in their published letters.

To get a sense of Giroux's personal and professional interest in O'Connor, read (or re-read) the publisher's introduction to Flannery O'Connor: The Complete Stories over on the "Speaking of Faith" site

Monday, August 4, 2008

Plans in the works for fall fundraiser

We're very pleased to announce that this year's fall fundraiser has been scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 11, at the Battersby-Hartridge House on Lafayette Square. It's one of the most unusual and extraordinary houses in Savannah, and we're sure guests will be impressed with the gracious Charleston-style porches and well-preserved parterre garden. More details to come.

The Flannery O'Connor Childhood Home at red Ravine

There's a great post about the O'Connor Childhood Home at the blog red Ravine . It's exciting to see that our rather short tour of an ultimately rather simple home can have such a profound effect on guests.

Thanks to bloggers QuoinMonkey and ybonesy for their interest.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

New O'Connor bio slated for February 2009 release

Big news for readers of Flannery O'Connor. Brad Gooch's long-anticipated biography is slated for release on Feb. 24, 2009, and is already listed on Amazon.

Gooch is the author of a number of novels, and also a couple of books of nonfiction -- Godtalk: Travels in Spiritual America and City Poet: The Life and Times of Frank O'Hara -- which seem especially good preparation to write a book about such a complex (even controversial) literary figure.

Cunningham lecture inspires writers and readers alike

More than 150 literary-minded Savannahians came to Trinity United Methodist Church last Tuesday evening for Michael Cunningham's wonderful kickoff to the Ashley and Terry Ursrey Memorial Lecture Series. I was especially heartened by the diversity of the crowd, which included longtime supporters of the O'Connor Childhood Home, numerous people I had never seen, students from Armstrong, a couple of young men who recently moved to town and work as waiters at downtown restaurants, a few members of Trinity's congregation, SCAD professors, and on and on.

Michael's talk (which we hope to print excerpts of here and in our next newsletter) was phenomenal. At least one audience member said that he anticipated a "canned" talk, but Michael composed a test just for us in which he talked about his arguments with a hippie high school teacher about O'Connor's Catholicism (the teacher wanted to dismiss her faith and Cunningham wisely didn't), about reading "Revelation" over the phone to a friend who was stoned at the time, about the relevance of an author's life to her work, and more broadly about the relationship between reader and writer.

After the lecture, Michael graciously signed books and talked to fans until everyone had left the reception.

I also had the pleasure of showing Michael around town earlier in the day, and it was thrilling to see his appreciation for the work we have done in recent years at the O'Connor Home.

All in all, a great night. Attached is a photo of Michael with reader Vernice Vasquez, who has been a regular attendee at our ongoing lecture series.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Michael Cunningham appearing in Savannah

THIS POST HAS BEEN CORRECTED -- MR. CUNNINGHAM'S ORIGINAL DATE HAD TO BE CHANGED BUT HE WILL BE COMING. We are thrilled to announce that Michael Cunningham (Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Hours, Flesh and Blood, Specimen Days, and A Home at the End of the World) will be giving a free reading and lecture in Savannah. Mr. Cunningham's appearance is the first annual installment in the The Ashley and Terry Ursrey Memorial Lecture Series.

Like O'Connor, Cunningham earned an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa. While best known as a novelist, Cunningham has also earned acclaim as a writer of short stories: "White Angel" was chosen for Best American Short Stories 1989, and "Mister Brother" appeared in the 2000 O. Henry collection.

Two of Mr. Cunningham's novels -- The Hours and A Home at the End of the World -- have been turned into highly-acclaimed films. Mr. Cunningham also co-authored the screenplay for Evening, starring Meryl Streep and Vanessa Redgrave.

After his talk, Mr. Cunningham will attend a brief reception and book-signing.

More details to follow.

Monday, April 21, 2008

2008 Spring Reading Series info

Here's our lineup for the 2008 Spring Reading Series:

April 27:
Novelist Elizabeth Winthrop will speak on Sunday, April 27 at 3 p.m. Winthrop's second novel, December, will be released this summer. Free and open to the public. 207 East Charlton Street in downtown Savannah. Call 912-233-6014 for more information.
May 4:
Mary Barbara Tate and Dorrie Neligan -- scholars who were both friends of Flannery O'Connor more than 40 years ago -- will speak on Sunday, May 4 at 3p.m. at the Flannery O'Connor Childhood Home at 207 East Charlton Street in downtown Savannah. The event is free and open to the public.Call 912-233-6014 for more information.
May 18:
Susan B. Johnson, author of Savannah's Little Crooked Houses: If These Walls Could Talk and other works, will speak on Sunday, May 18, at 3 p.m. as part of the spring reading series at the Flannery O'Connor Childhood Home at 207 East Charlton Street in downtown Savannah. The event is free and open to the public. Call 912-233-6014 for more information.