October 2, 2011

Lynne Barrett Reads From Magpies @ Books and Books

Last night was a proud moment for South Florida. Not only did Lynne Barrett treat us to a superb reading, but we also witnessed the full flowering of our literary community. Books and Books was packed with readers, fitting nearly every demographic profile in South Florida --and that says a lot!--who came out to listen to one of our community's finest authors. And it could only have happened in Books and Books.

Books and Books has kept ahead of the publishing curve with Mitch Kaplan's innovative practices and by selling all kinds of books: high-brow, low-brow, middle-brow, no-brow. They've had to. A bookseller cannot be a literary snob. Repeat the bookseller's mantra: "I sell, I sell, I sell."

However, what makes Mitchell Kaplan, a recipient of the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community, different is that he has nurtured a literary community in South Florida by his involvement in the Miami Book Fair International, Florida Center for the Literary Arts, and Books and Books. For more than twenty-five years, Mitch has opened the doors of Books and Books to many authors, and the size of the audience was indicative of the appreciation for Mitch's work and Lynne Barrett's talent.

After the introduction by John Dufresne, another of our literary pioneers, Lynne took the podium and read "Gossip and Toad" a story from Magpies (Carnegie-Mellon). It was a gutsy choice. But Lynne lived up to John Dufresne's  description of her as the "Queen of Plot" by weaving together the lives of three characters from different backgrounds while providing acerbic social commentary and demonstrated her mastery of magical realism to create a remarkable narrative about a writer's acceptance of her craft.

If "Gossip and Toad" is anything like the rest of the stories in Magpies, then this collection is certain to join the ranks of Lynne's other celebrated works.

In the meantime, South Florida, read Magpies and take a bow.

About Lynne Barrett

Lynne Barrett's short story collection, The Secret Names of Women, was a Book Sense pick of the American Booksellers' Association. It includes "Elvis Lives," winner of the Edgar Allan Poe award of the Mystery Writers of America, and "Beauty," awarded the best short story prize at the Moondance International Film Festival. A new story appears in A Dixie Christmas, published by Algonquin. She is also the author of The Land of Go and co-editor of the anthology Birth: A Literary Companion. Lynne teaches in the M.F.A. program in Creative Writing at Florida International University and lives in Miami with her husband and son.

Photo source: Sliver of Stone

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