Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Dateline: Nashville, Tennessee

Parnassus Books
Nashville, Tennessee
After a three-hour drive and lunch in Jackson, Tennessee, we arrived in Nashville. It was fun to stop in again at Jackson, although we didn't go to see Henry at the Rockabilly Museum, we did stop and took a photo of the mural of Carl Perkins and Paul McCartney.

In Nashville, we headed straight off of I-40 to McKay's. Here is a huge bookstore where people come to trade in books, get money, and then they get sold (the books, not the people). I was on a quest for a biography of Andrew Jackson as his home, The Hermitage, is a museum here. There was a tall youngish guy with a big stack of books in a cart and I asked him where the biographies were. He took me to them but I couldn't find a volume that appealed to me. Later, I ran across him again and asked where books of Civil War diaries might be and he led me to them.

I said, "I am sorry to take you away from shelving books. I used to work in a bookstore and know that can be frustrating when customers interrupt you."

He looked at me and smiled. "I don't really work here. I am a wholesale book dealer and am in here all the time so I pretty much know where everything is."

We both laughed at that and got into a conversation about the Literary Tour. He signed the autograph book and listed another five stores we might want to visit. Thank you Carl.

I only bought two books: All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren, a Kentucky author who attended Vanderbilt University in Nashville. My other choice was not a Southern writer unless A.A. Milne lived in the south of England. I found a hardcover copy in excellent condition of Winnie-the-Pooh which I have in paperback at home and will now be able to replace. One can never turn down a Pooh.

I also found a DVD of Under the Tuscan Sun which I was glad to get as my rental store, Wild and Woolly, doesn't have a copy any longer. Not a book, but based on a book I read the year.

Rose chose Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver, The Coffee Trader: A Novel by David Liss, and Feather Crowns by Bobby Ann Mason. Kingsolver and Mason are both Kentucky authors.

We then headed to Vanderbilt University and BookManBookWoman which is on the edge of campus by the huge medical center. This small shop has aisles and shelves full of books. In order but sometimes stacked higglety-pigglety. We had a nice conversation with Sue who had worked at the store since it opened in 1991. Neither one of us found anything that we thought we couldn't live without, so we went on our merry way.

Insert by Rose: This was my least favorite bookstore. I felt the books were priced a little higher than at other stores we had visited, it had a limited selection of Civil War books and Southern writers, and there was a musty smell that didn't come from old books, it just came from old.

Our pièce de résistance came with a visit to Parnassus Books which is partly owned by author Ann Patchett. It was a lively, light store with wood floors. Immediately inside the door was a display of books by 16 to 20 native Tennessee writers.  This pleased Rose to no end.

I purchased What Now? based on Patchett's commencement speech at Sarah Lawrence (her alma mater) in 2006. Rose bought Truth and Beauty, the story of her friendship with Lucy Grealy. Both had been signed by Ms. Patchett which was a nice touch.

I also wrote a note to Patchett telling her about our Literary Tour and wished her luck with her new venture.

And so to bed.


  1. This gives a new meaning to the phrase 'book tour'. How lovely, Belle!

  2. P.S. I'd like to read "What Now?" - in fact, I was so taken with "State of Wonder" that I want to read anything by Ann Patchett.

    1. Oh, Cornflower. Rose, my traveling companion, and I had so many adventures. If you have the interest, read some of the other entries about the trip. We spent eight days in 'literary heaven' and I blogged the entire way.

      I took photos of cornflowers growing in the garden of Eudora Welty's house in Jackson, Mississippi. I was thrilled to see them as the cornflower blue is such a lovely color. I don't see the blooms around here much any more which saddens me as it was my favorite childhood flower.

      Of course, I have not read "What Now?" yet. Isn't that just the way. Once I have a book in hand, I seem to get distracted by some other title. All the books I purchased are still in shopping bags and resting on my chaise lounge. I really must unpack and see what I bought!