January 2008 Backtalk
~ Karla Stratmann
It seems strange to type the word "congratulations" regarding a story so tragic, but I haven't read an article in any publication this compelling in years. I was riveted, shocked, disgusted. Part 2 was even more compelling than Part 1. Most of your readers assume that such a story would "write itself," but a few of us out here know better. Again, congratulations.
~ Charles P. Mooney
I wanted to thank you for such a straightforward "Last Stand" [in the November issue]. I just finished reading Frank Murtaugh's "Four More Years?" I totally agree with your assessment about Mayor Herenton and his negative effect on the city. But as sad as the situation is, what is even more unfortunate is that there are enough Memphians who see nothing wrong with the Mayor or his actions and have elected him to office not once, but five times. One day Memphis will have a new mayor, but those who have voted for Herenton will be around for decades to come to continue to "hold this city back."
~ Col. (Ret) Fred Shaw
I was sorry to see the list of Memphis literary works not include William D. Miller's deserving Memphis In the Progressive Era and his definitive biography of Ed Crump.
~ William H. Slavick
Congratulations on your excellent "32 by 32" article on Memphis books in your December issue. There is one other special book which deserves mention. Dying in the City of the Blues, by Keith Wailoo. It is an African-American history of Memphis by an African American sociologist with medical, race relations, and political perspectives describing how the black and white communities in Memphis dealt with sickle cell anemia.
~ Walter Diggs
No list of the "finest literary works with a Memphis flavor" can be complete without Whistle, the third novel of James Jones' trilogy on WWII that begins with From Here to Eternity, continues with The Thin Red Line, and ends, in Memphis, with Whistle. The series takes a set of Americans from pre-war to combat to the post-war world. Whistle is set at the VA Hospital at Park and Getwell, and has numerous scenes at The Peabody, the old Chisca Hotel, Overton Park, and a fictional equivalent of the Naval Base at Millington. It's a remarkable exploration of the differing effects that war has on different individuals.
Another novel, Taft by Ann Patchett, is set in a bar on Beale Street, and addresses the interpersonal emotional lives of people whom the upper classes may assume have no emotional lives.
~ Thomas M. Chesney