Southern Literary Luncheon
Once a month, my published author friend Kaitlyn Sage Patterson and I go to lunch somewhere authentic to Memphis, talk about a memoir, and share stories on the road to book publication.
The Liar’s Club by Mary Karr and I’m Just a Po Boy at RAWK’n Grub
My turn to pick the place, so I ask my friend to meet me at the Citgo at the corner of Summer and Highland. She questions my intentions upon entering the gas station but trusts me. Good thing we ain’t fancy.
RAWK’n Grub used to be a food truck until putting it in park and opening up shop #straightouttagasstation. All the menu items are music related. I order the I’m Just a Po’ Boy with shrimp, andouille, fried green tomatoes, shredded lettuce, and oven roasted tomato remoulade on a toasted baguette. It was more than a mouthful, so I left most the bread and picked out the goods. The Erryday I’m Brusslin sprouts were fried and settled in a sweet coating of tomato jam with crunchy bacon lardons like meat candy.
Kaitlyn gets the Bun on the Bayou without the bun, which is basically the same thing as mine, except heaped on a burger atop a bed of slaw. The Kungfu Al Greens turn out to be kimchi and collard green egg rolls that had too much kick for me. But my friend loves her some heat, gets all flushed up rosy, and keeps going until they’re gone.
My favorite is the Blue Suede Shoestring Fries smothered in a smoked blue cheese cream sauce that makes them fork worthy. Scattered with scallions, and yes more bacon, ketchup would be an insult. We enjoy our own meals but keep fishing out of that shared basket of fries. Then we talk shop.
Mary Karr is a master, my dream blurb. Her voice matches mine more than any other author I’ve ever read. Damn proud to say so. This memoir about her volatile East Texas upbringing was like a bible to me in grad school. I talked about it in my thesis defense. I marked it up and flagged pages. I dissected it to bits.
Fast forward ten years, as I put off reading it again until time to write the hardest chapter of my own book, and I’m still in awe of her talent. A decade later and it still holds up. Kaitlyn agrees.
We toast our forkfuls of fries. To Mary. Prose tight like a poet from a smart-mouth narrator, and tension that keeps the pages turning. May we read carnivorously and feed on the structure, the image, the metaphor.
As for my own book, I have a solid query (the one page pitch for potential agents) and a partial second draft of my manuscript. I’m itching. It takes weeks for agents to wade through slush and respond. I could be revising while I wait. Kaitlyn warns against such a rookie mistake.
“Reign it in, honey. What if you get a yes and have to rush to finish? Without time to process, it won’t be your best work.”– Sage advice from Kaitlyn Sage Patterson
My friend is right. Until June, I have put aside my proposal and any ideas of marketing and publication in order to drill down for a deep dive into my story. This is longest thing I’ve ever written. Now for the toughest part, the part I’ve been avoiding, reaching for the innards. My plan is to bleed on the page.