Friday, March 2, 2018

Anthony Grooms

Anthony Grooms is the author of Bombingham: A Novel and Trouble No More: Stories, both winners of the Lillian Smith Book Award for fiction. Born in Charlottesville, Virginia, he has taught writing and American literature at universities in Ghana and Sweden and, since 1994, at Kennesaw State University in Georgia.

Grooms's new novel is The Vain Conversation.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. His reply:
Because I teach writing, most of my reading is of student manuscripts—often novels. I am fortunate to have good students. Still I am reading a good number of books, usually literary novels, at any given time. I recently finished Haylow by Gray Stewart, his debut novel. The novel is a satire about a white professor at an historically black university. Few novels have such settings and none that I know of with an HBCU setting is told by a white protagonist. The novel is remarkable for its clear-eyed honesty. It’s a take-no-prisoners kind of satire, and the protagonist gets as much as he gives. And yet, the characters are treated with genuine sympathy and the reader learns a lot about race in the contemporary South and learns to love the characters.

I am also reading Ruth Carbonette Yow’s Students of the Dream, a nonfiction account of the re-segregation of a suburban high school in Georgia. Yow, a Yale-educated historian follows the stories of several students from different spheres of the community she examines. She is an excellent story teller and supports her stories with statistical information.

Not long ago, I finished John Holman’s Triangle Ray, a story cycle about an unassuming caterer who works in Raleigh, NC. Holman is a suburb stylist, playing with words in a way that the ordinary phrase radiates extraordinary meaning, often humorous. The stories of Ray, the protagonist, involve us in the broader community so that we are immersed in the world of this small Southern city.

I was surprised to find a new novel by the great American writer Ernest J. Gaines, an author I hold in highest esteem. A few years ago, Mr. Gaines declared he was done with writing, had nothing left to say. But this book called The Tragedy of Brady Sims was released quietly last year. I have only looked at the first chapter and it promises all of the craftsmanship and insight of Gaines’s masterwork, A Lesson Before Dying.
Visit Anthony Grooms's website.

--Marshal Zeringue