Reading Matters

‘Art & Craft’ is 30 years on literary beat

“Do writers really need community?” Charleston novelist Josephine Humphreys asks in the foreword to “Art & Craft: Thirty Years on the Literary Beat,” by Bill Thompson, who wrote about books, film, arts and travel for the Post & Courier from 1980 to 2012.

Well, I for one, certainly believe writers need community. Not only do writers need each other, they also need book stores willing to promote their work and readers who want to read their work.

Humphreys says writers need even more. “Not so much for the critiquing and encouragement and advice ... but more for laughs.”

I second that. And I’d add, too, that while they laugh, add chocolate and oranges and cake and champagne.

All that to say that Humphreys gives Bill Thompson credit for being the catalyst of creating a community of writers in the lowcountry. His “newspaper reviews and interviews sparked our energy and made us aware of each other, generated the warmth we needed.”

What a fabulous compliment!

And this book of is absolute testament to the hours and days and months of devotion Thompson paid to writers, not only in the lowcountry, but throughout this country.

You’ll find reviews of and interviews with such writers as Pat Conroy (of course), Lee Smith, Shelby Foote, Jill McCorkle, Charles Frazier. Familiar names. Familiar books.

But I loved finding out about writers I didn’t know: Charleston lawyer Harriet McBryde Johnson’s memoir “Too Late to Die Young.” (What a great title!) And McClellanville, S.C.’s William Baldwin’s novel, “A Gentleman of Charleston and the Manner of His Death.”

These offerings are the “hand-picked fruit” of Thompson’s 30 years. One of the nicest things about this array of fruit, is that the bites are not too big. They are both delicious and just the right size.

Dannye’s blog: