Southern Festival of Books: Friday Recap

Last weekend, I went down to Nashville for the Southern Festival of Books. I wrote about the Festival for Ace Weekly magazine, describing the sense of "place" that arose time and again during the festival's programs and events. I also wanted to share a more informal "travelogue" with y'all. We had such an amazing time taking in both the festival and one of my very favorite cities.  Here's a little about my trip down to Nashville on Friday and the first night of the event. -- HCW

It was just one of those days that goes right. That's a very good thing when you undertake a five hour trip. After the dogs got in a lengthy morning playtime, I left them with my parents and I drove. And drove. And drove. I noticed the fall foliage. I bemoaned the lack of cell phone signal in rural Kentucky. And I drove some more. Finally, I found myself on the Tennessee border. I excitedly tuned the radio to Jack 96.3 (only the best radio station ever -- take my word for it!) and took in the sights.  Lordy, I love this city.
I had a few minutes to spare before the first event I wanted to attend, so I drove down Broadway. It's so quintessentially touristy, and yet such a terribly fun area. At 2 o'clock on a Friday afternoon, the honky-tonks and shops were just swarming with people. There were lines outside Tootsies, Margaritaville and Hatch Show Print. That's one of my very favorite things about Nashville: there are always people lined up to have a good time.

I headed over to the Public Library to hear Jason Howard and Naomi Judd speak about the Kentucky Roots of Country Music. Two things become apparent in a hurry: I want to be BFFs with Jason Howard, and Naomi Judd knows how to work a room. Amidst an interesting discussion about Appalachia, culture, and creativity, Mr. Howard and Ms. Judd worked in some hilarious quotes. Reading from his own description of a dinnertime scene at Ms. Judd's home, Mr. Howard deadpanned "It's her kitchen medicine cabinet. Every Appalachian woman I know has one." Later in the hour, Ms. Judd reached into her décolletage and dramatically produced a tissue -- "I think there's a Kleenex gene. I think it's a hillbilly thing."

I left the session with an interesting perspective on my own Appalachian heritage and drove down to meet my beau at the Barnes & Noble on Vanderbilt's campus (he's been in town for work). We grabbed some dinner, then decided to check out the holy grail of Nashville bookstores, Parnassus Books. 

I've been dying to visit Parnassus forever. Located in an unassuming strip of shops and restaurants in the Green Hills neighborhood, the store boasts one of the best fiction selections I've seen in ages. Because we were in Nashville, there were also more than a few country music and sporting dog titles to make us feel at home. I knew there was little chance of getting to meet owner Ann Patchett on a Friday night; I guess I'll just have to make another trip soon! 

We ended the evening with an apple fritter from the Donut Den next door (oh, how we've missed them!), and called it an early night, because we had many more books to discover on Saturday!