Sunday, December 29, 2013

Chats with Southern Writers

Eudora Welty at her desk
Photo by
Jill Krementz

I have been on a bit of a tear lately watching archived programs from C-SPAN's Booknotes and Q and A. Really, I can sense my IQ increasing just listening to non-fiction authors talk about presidents, history, books, philosophers, and other writers. 

I recently re-watched a 1997 Booknotes interview with Jill Krementz, a woman who has spent decades photographing writers. She was on the program to talk about her book The Writer's Desk (1996), a collection of photographs of authors seated or standing where they do their best work. I own this book and pick it up every now and then to reacquaint myself with the faces of such notables as P.G. Wodehouse dressed in suit and tie typing away in his study; Joyce Carol Oates at her electric typewriter that is perched in front of a large window; or William F. Buckley, Jr. on the phone in the back of the limousine he had specially built to accommodate his long legs and which he very often uses as his office. 

It is one of my favorite books and I wrote about it last year here.

I was curious to see if Ms. Krementz had other books that included photos of writers, and sure enough my library had one titled Parting the Curtains: Interviews with Southern Writers (1994). The interviews were conducted between 1975 and 1994 by Dannye Romine Powell, a poet and former columnist and book editor for the Charlotte Observer.

So here we have thoughts on the creative process from Angelou to Welty with Conroy, Foote, Haley, Percy and Price in between. A total of twenty-three writers living and writing below the Mason-Dixon line accompanied by black-and-white photos taken by Ms. Krementz.

Both books feature on their cover the now-famous photo of Eudora Welty at her desk in her bedroom in Jackson, Mississippi. 

I have already skimmed through this volume to look at the photos and am anxious to read what the writers have to say for themselves and their craft. A fortunate find indeed! 

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