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Powell's Q&A

Tony Earley

Describe your latest project.
My new book is a novel called The Blue Star. It's either the sequel to Jim the Boy, or the second book in a series of Jim books, depending on whether or not I figure out how to write faster. In this one Jim's in love with a girl he can't have, and the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor. (My father-in-law once told me he didn't think Jim the Boy had a plot. This one has a plot.)

  1. The Blue Star
    $3.97 Sale Hardcover add to wishlist

    The Blue Star

    Tony Earley
    "The deceptive simplicity of the matter-of-fact narrative inexorably draws the reader into this tender and true coming-of-age tale." Booklist
  2. Jim the Boy
    $3.38 Used Trade Paper add to wishlist

    Jim the Boy

    Tony Earley
    "From its title to its closing sentence, Tony Earley's first novel returns to basics, back to modernness in the old sense of the word. It's not a big book, just a good one..." Walter Kirn, The New York Times Book Review
Introduce one other author you think people should read, and suggest a good book with which to start.
Joseph Mitchell, Up in the Old Hotel.

Offer a favorite sentence or passage from another writer.

"The sea broke in a long line in the rain and slipped back down the beach to come up and break again in a long line in the rain."
Ernest Hemingway

How do you relax?
I play golf. It's a narrative sport.

Have you ever made a literary pilgrimage?
Once, after a girlfriend broke up with me, I drove from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to Oxford, Mississippi, to see Faulkner's house and thought about myself in third person.

What makes your favorite pair of shoes better than the rest?
They look like boots, but they're not.

Who's wilder on tour, rock bands or authors?
Gotta be rock stars. The wildest thing I ever did on tour was eat a 14-dollar jar of nuts out of the mini bar.

Talk about your vision of the ideal life.
Golf early, play with daughter, Chinese food for lunch, nap with wife, write something good, play with daughter, supper with family, good TV show, go to sleep reading narrative nonfiction about a hurricane or an epidemic.

In the For-All-Eternity category, what will be your final thought?
Uh-oh.

Recommend five or more books on a single subject of personal interest or expertise.

My favorite seven books about disasters or epidemics:

Isaac's Storm by Erik Larson

The Great Influenza by John M. Barry

Flu by Gina Kolata

The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan

The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson

F5 by Mark Levine

The Children's Blizzard by David Laskin

÷ ÷ ÷

Tony Earley is the author of Jim the Boy, Here We Are in Paradise, and Somehow Form a Family. He lives with his family in Nashville, Tennessee, where he is the Samuel Milton Fleming Associate Professor of English at Vanderbilt University.

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