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Shakespeare and Christianity Celebration

The Aquinas College Center for Faith & Culture has some great events coming up, the first of which sounds like a fine way to spend a Saturday.

Tomorrow’s celebration of the Bard includes a full day of talks and performances on the topic of Shakespeare and Christianity presented by the Center for Faith & Culture and its director Joseph Pearce. The Center will also honor the winner of the inaugural Shakespeare and Christianity Essay Contest for high school students. For more information, visit the website here.

They’re also currently running an exhibit on the works of Walker Percy, and later this year will be holding a celebration of Lewis and Tolkien.

England: Day Five (Part Two)

[Day One]
[Day Two]
[Day Three]
[Day Four]
[Day Five: Part One]



Andrew wants to “throttle” me because I manage to outscoop him on a book he has been hunting for years. He and at least one other person on earth claim I have a knack for finding previously overlooked books on the very same shelves they themselves browsed not fifteen minutes earlier. Andrew says it’s annoying, I say it’s a gift. To the thoroughly meticulous victor belong the spoils.

We reconvene at the B&B later in the afternoon where, after successfully squeezing an extra 20 minutes out of Hay’s regular business hours by playing ignorant tourist, we lay out our respective hauls: sacks-full of wonderful-smelling, early 20th-century books. An old book is my version of comfort food. While showing off, and comparing (yes, and sniffing) our book acquisitions in a sort of awkward chest-thumping bibliophile display of bravado, I notice a shadow pass over my friend’s Swedish face as I reveal the coup de grace: a dust-jacketed 1945 first UK printing of C. S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce. Having not known Andrew has been on a years-long search for a copy in this state, he most certainly lets me know. I feel bad. But not too bad.

Designing a Book Cover: Dr. Critchlore’s School for Minions

After reading the manuscript for Dr. Critchlore’s School for Minions, the cover was the first piece of art I was asked to take on—and this was my very first book cover. So I quickly went to work designing a title/logo and a theme for the cover involving a stone arch and several character cameos on the bottom corners. I then came up with three different center-image options and presented them to the team at Abrams.

The first was what I referred to as “Brace Yourselves.” It was slightly ambiguous, with two of the story’s main characters, Runt and Pismo, leading an army of hapless zombie minions in what appears to be a stand off with an unforeseen foe. This was not a scene from the story, but was intended to give a sense of urgency and unseen danger. My cameos for the bottom corners turned out to be Dr. Critchlore himself and his secretary, Miss Merrybench.

Critchlore Cover Concept 3

The second option was taken directly from a scene involving a mysterious figure in peril, with our main character, Runt, coming to the rescue on the back of a dragon.

England: Day Five (Interlude)

[Day One]
[Day Two]
[Day Three]
[Day Four]



“I just don’t get this thing you have for old books,” said lots of people, always.

It’s okay. Of all my strange affections, this is possibly the one about which I feel the least embarrassment. I’ve always been bashful about my tendency to read books with dragons, or my weird fascination with honeybees, or basically everything in thrift stores, but I am and will remain an unapologetic bibliophile. But I get it. I get why you think I’m crazy. How in the world, you ask, will I have time to read all those books, and why in the world would I let them take over my house–especially when you can store all that information on a Kindle or a Nook or an iPad? What could possibly be enjoyable about rummaging around in a dusty bookshop for hours?

Let me explain, in bullet-point fashion for the sake of brevity.

The Local Show: Jill Phillips and Andy Gullahorn w/ Julie Lee and Wes King

This week’s line-up at the Local Show is a whopper. Jill Phillips and Andy Gullahorn are hosting, and they’ve invited two special guests.

The first is the amazing Julie Lee. Julie is a Nashville-based singer-songwriter who, in addition to her own beautiful solo work, has written songs for folks like Alison Krauss, Ron Block, and Pam Tillis. She’s an absolute delight and we’re honored to have her back at the Local Show.

And appearing at the Local Show for the first time is a singer-songwriter that a lot of folks will recognize from their younger years, Wes King. Wes began his career in the early ’90s with albums like Sticks and Stones and Ultimate Underlying No Denying Motivation and has had a vibrant career ever since.

Advance tickets to tonight’s show are sold out, but there will be a limited number of tickets available at the door for $15. Doors open at 7:10pm. Showtime is 7:30pm at The Well Coffeehouse in Brentwood on Old Hickory Blvd.

The Legacy of Terry Pratchett

Several weeks ago, I heard the news that Sir Terry Pratchett, British fantasy author extraordinaire, had finally succumbed to the terrible disease of Alzheimer’s. At the time I happened to be in the middle of reading one of his Discworld novels, Unseen Academicals. The sad news led me to recall my first encounter with his stories, and the impact they’ve had on my life.

I first came across Pratchett’s fiction while I was in grad school doing research on my master’s thesis. I was studying postmodern fairytales, particularly those of A. S. Byatt, and while doing so I read an essay in which she discussed his novel Witches Abroad, which cleverly turns the fairy tale structure on its head. So in the name of “research” I got my hands on a copy and dove in. From this encounter I realized a few things. First, Terry Pratchett is the most hilarious author that I’ve ever had the privilege of reading, and I’d argue probably one of the funniest writers ever. The man’s wit knew no bounds, and he was liberal with it. I’d often find myself chuckling over small asides like this one from Guards! Guards!: “The Supreme Grand Master opened his eyes. He was lying on his back. Brother Diddykins was preparing to give him the kiss of life. The mere thought was enough to jerk anyone from the borders of consciousness.”

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