Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Terry Kay

Once again, my good friends, Marilyn and Celia, and I went to the Book Exchange for the author meet and greet. This time the author was Terry Kay, and frankly, he disappointed.

Could have been that I had high expectations, but regardless, IMHO, he just didn’t bring his A game.

Marilyn: I remember him as being much better the last time I saw him.

As a fairly well-known Southern writer [Georgia Writer's Hall of Fame] who spent time as a journalist for the Atlanta papers, he could have spent some time talking about his varied experiences.

Instead, he talked for about ten minutes about his new book Bogmeadow’s Wish, read two pages without much context, and then asked for questions.

I looked at Marilyn. What?

Thank goodness, the four or five questions asked by the audience led to his elaborating on a few things, but it seemed to me, he was in a hurry to sign his books and point his car back home to Athens.

Here are some tidbits from the notes I took:

1. Book of Marie was the most important book he wrote.

Don’t know why.

2. He hates Atlanta traffic.

I hate Canton Road traffic.

3a. Three of his novels have been made into TV movies -- most popular one and most critically acclaimed was Dance with The White Dog, which he said “wasn’t his book when it was done.”

Hollywood can mess up a story.

3b. He was given the screen play to look over [filmed in Americus with a local helping with authenticity], not that they wanted or cared about his input, but he told them that language should be North Georgia not South Georgia, and “there is a difference.”

You got that right. Anyone ever been to Cairo? Ochlocknee? "[Th]em's different all rightee."

4. Kay can't consider himself a true, Southern writer since he didn’t come from a dysfunctional family.

He’s old school -- I liked that. When we grew up, we didn't know that word. We just called our families crazy and thought it was normal.

5. When a Southerner says, “He’s something else,” that can mean anything.


6. He doesn’t base his characters on people he knows -- the people he knows are “boring.”

I know I am.

7. Beach Read is a genre: he labeled it "light, transparent, predictable, and silly."

No wonder I don't read it.

8. His wife’s favorite show is Desperate Housewives.

Never seen it. I get all of that reality television mixed up. It is reality tv, isn't it? Wait. Maybe that is Real Housewives of Canton Highway? Real? Desperate? Same thing?

9. The best tool a fiction writer has is for his character to keep a journal.

I keep a blog. I keep a journal. I have tools.

10. He has written about 20 books, but only 13 have been published. The seven not published he calls his “Posthumous Writing.”

Billy Budd, anyone?

I actually thought that was the funniest thing he said all night.

Now, after I typed that up, it sounds so much better than it was…

Eh? Must be my comments.

What I wanted from Terry Kay was an opportunity to hear him talk about writing as a craft, about the memorable characters in his novels, or maybe, just maybe, tell more about himself.

I guess I expected too much, and Kay expected to do what he did.


BTW: Before Kay talked to the crowd, he sat in a chair right by my friend Marilyn. She chatted him up, but said afterward that "it was odd." She didn't elaborate, but she comes from a dysfunctional old, Virginia family.


Marilyn and I sat in two turquoise vinyl [leather?] broken down chairs at the front but on the side. Celia got a cold, brown, metal folding chair that we pulled up beside us. That's what happens when you get there last.

After the last author chat we attended [and we're old pros], Marilyn and I decided that sitting on the side gave us a better view, not only of the writer, but of the crowd. We looked like press -- all camera, note pad, and attitude. All I needed was a cigarette and a fedora. After all, I'm known around the Book Exchange as "the blogger."

Better than being known as a "polo player."

*snickers at own inside joke*

Blog readers: Well, that was a waste of time.

ICYI: Polo player reference -- in the Great Gatsby, Gatsby introduced Tom to his friends as the "polo player." Not sure there is correct etiquette for that, you know, when Gatsby was "like" having a fling with Tom's wife and all.

I love the term "and all." So left up to the imagination.

That's all I got.


  1. Harriet, you are a kick! I just love your sense of humor. I feel like I just went along on one of your "meet and greets" I would love to go along, I have always been intrigued about anything having to do with the South. Especially the dysfunctional aspects! As usual, great post! Lori

  2. I hate it that Terry Kay wasn't good. He was a friend of Bud Simpson, my friend in Dunwoody. Bud always talked about what a wonderful friend he was and what a talent. Maybe he was having an off night. I wish I was one of the good friends so I would get an invitation to the special good friend functions.