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Famous writers in print and still alive

Among the books on my kitchen table is How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead, by Ariel Gore, which is full of great writing and promotional ideas, despite being written by someone I’d never heard of before thumbing through her book.

I’ll keep reading because I like Gore’s upbeat, frank tone, and her writing ideas make sense. Plus, there’s evidence of her relative fame-hood in the blogosphere and on the West Coast, where she lives.

But starting this Monday, Savannah readers will have dozens of chances to meet bona fide famous authors in person, as a deluge of famous, nearly famous, and soon-to-be-famous writers will give talks and signings over the next several months. And for the book snob that lurks inside many of us, the authors also happen to be critical successes as well.

The first of these events to hit town will be Monday night’s lecture at Savannah Country Day by Alexandra Robbins, launching the school’s third Creative Minds series.

Robbins’ latest book, The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids sounds like the kind of reading prescribed as an insomnia antidote, best suited for parents who don’t have anything truly alarming to worry about. But Robbins’ book is a New York Times bestseller with a cult-like MySpace following among teens and college students, plus favorable reviews from the NYT Book Review, The Washington Post, and Publishers Weekly.

While Robbins is merely famous, the remaining four writers in the series qualify for superstar or possibly iconic status in literature, history and international affairs. The series’ other speakers are novelist and PEN/Faulkner award winner E.L. Doctorow, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Edward Albee, PEN award nominee and CBS News analyst Reza Aslan and Newsweek managing editor and NYT bestselling writer Jon Meacham. They’ll all pass through between November and April.

Barely a week after Robbins’ reading, David Sedaris, that repressed North Carolina mama’s boy turned ex-pat out-of-the-closet NPR commentator, will be here for one night. Sedaris’ appearance, a reading and book-signing at the Johnny Mercer Theater on October 10, will be his tenth performance of a national tour that takes him to 31 cities in 32 days.

The rock concert-like schedule (complete with rock concert priced tickets) reveals the business side of being a still-alive famous writer. Hopefully the pressure of nonstop travel and performing won’t compel Sedaris to start smoking again. Despite the swirling smoke on the tour’s promo poster, Sedaris’ publicity team reports that he’s given it up.

For more famous writer exposure, plan ahead for February 2, when the first-ever Savannah Book Festival begins. John Berendt is perhaps the most well known of the 30 writers scheduled for free lectures and signings around Telfair and Franklin Squares.

Although this almost goes without saying, Berendt is the “Up North” author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, “the book” about our town that made Savannah even more famous than the author, and for things like crimes of passion, homosexuality, cross dressing, and debutante balls. Typical Savannah experiences which, even after years of discussion, continue to fill trolleys with themed tours and foster a souvenir industry, and continue to baffle locals who are not sure what all the fuss is about.

Creative Minds lectures information:

For David Sedaris ticket information contact: (912) 651-6556.

Homegrown authors soon to make it big

Want to become a famous writer? “Write.” This is the first, the most obvious, and the most difficult of Ariel Gore’s tips for becoming a famous writer. This Saturday, two Savannah writers who have completed this important step will sign their new books at two overlapping events.

At E. Shaver Booksellers, Susan B. Johnson will sign Spirit Willing: A Savannah Haunting. Johnson’s novel is “a tale of conniving and greed,” and is her second book to be published this year. She’ll be at the downtown bookstore, at 326 Bull Street, from 1 to 3 p.m.

With some effective time management, book lovers can stop by Shaver’s for Johnson’s book and then head across town to Sensational Minds Bookstore at 129 East Montgomery Crossroad, just in time for a 2-4 p.m. book signing by Robert T.S. Mickles, Sr.

Blood Kin: A Savannah Story is a novel based on stories told to Mickles by his great-grandmother and other family members about both sides of his ancestry—the former slaves side and the Portuguese slave trader side.

The more books that Johnson and Mickles sell, the greater their chances of fame and perhaps fortune. They’ve done the writing, the hard part. Now it’s our turn!

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