Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Margaret Bradham Thornton

Margaret Bradham Thornton is the author of the novels A Theory Of Love and Charleston and the editor of Tennessee Williams’s Notebooks, for which she received the Bronze ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award in autobiography/memoir and the C. Hugh Holman Prize for the best volume of southern literary scholarship published in 2006, given by the Society for the Study of Southern Literature.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Her reply:
I’ve just finished Trust by Alphonso Lingis, given to me by the poet Eleanor Chai. It is one of those rare books that maps its own genre - combining philosophy, anthropology, personal reflection, and travel writing. I was hooked by the third page in the essay on Araouane with Lingis’s observation, “when the sky is overcast a Tuareg verifies the way by tasting the sand.” In my own novel, A Theory of Love, I begin with the story of a sea captain who was so well traveled that he could be blindfolded and dropped in any body of water and the moment he took off his blindfold, he would know where he was. The idea that color or taste can be a type of compass intrigues me, and I like the way the two books talk to each other.

Next up is another book given by a friend, the Faulkner scholar Ann Abadie. Ann edited Faulkner: International Perspectives, which includes papers from scholars around the world including China. My husband is a professor at Tsinghua University, and I find from my personal survey that Faulkner is one of the most widely read American novelists in China so I am curious to understand how Chinese scholars discuss him. I have also just finished reading a wonderful essay in another book Ann is editing on an exhibition of William Eggleston photographs from a collection at the University of Mississippi Museum and Historic Houses. In this insightful and amusing piece, its author, Michael Almereyda, mentions that while he was interviewing Eggleston over two days, a DVD of Tennessee Williams’ film Baby Doll played without sound on a flat screen monitor across the room. Toward the end of his essay he asks mid paragraph, “Do I need to mention that we were drinking bourbon?” After spending ten years editing the Notebooks of Tennessee Williams, I can say with almost certainty, Almereyda’s question would have brought a smile to his face.
Visit Margaret Bradham Thornton's website.

--Marshal Zeringue