The Orphan Master's Son author Adam Johnson isn't the only Pulitzer Prize-winning writer visiting the Triangle this fall. Another, RICK BRAGG (Sept. 19, The Regulator Bookshop, www.regulatorbookshop.com), returns with a new book of personal essays—his specialty—My Southern Journey: True Stories From the Heart of the South.
As someone who writes for a living, I regard a new pop-science book on bad writing from linguist and cognitive scientist STEVEN PINKER (Oct. 4, Flyleaf Books, www.flyleafbooks.com) with equal parts interest and trepidation. That's just what Pinker offers in The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century. Maybe after to read, me talk more pretty.
For a less angst-inducing event at Flyleaf, I'm on board for RICHARD FORD (Oct. 13), yet another Pulitzer packer, whose 2012 novel, Canada, was highly praised by yours truly in these pages. Let Me Be Frank With You is his new short-story collection, continuing the Frank Bascombe series that began with The Sportswriter.
Quail Ridge Books & Music is putting former Secretary of Labor ROBERT REICH (Oct. 26, Meredith College, www.quailridgebooks.com) into conversation with N.C. NAACP President William Barber II and Blood Done Sign My Name author Timothy Tyson, moderated by NPR's Frank Stasio. Reich's forthcoming book, Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few, is an informed broadside against our failing economic system.
And lest we forget homegrown talent, Quail Ridge also hosts Appalachian bard RON RASH (Sept. 14, Quail Ridge Books), whose latest novel, Above the Waterfall, is here to remind us he's a very fine writer who was totally not to blame for the film version of Serena.
The biggest news on the poetry front is a symposium dedicated to AMIRI BARAKA (Sept. 16–17, UNC's Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History, www.stonecenter.unc.edu). The hugely influential poet died last year, making this a perfect time to review his legacy through panels, archival exhibits and film screenings.
Formerly known as Manic Caravan but now called Little Corner Reading Series, Duke University's poetry series has a thematically curated lineup exploring poetry's relation to public space. Fittingly, the series moves its strong fall offerings off campus. Poetry ombudsman Ron Silliman called Daily Sonnets, by Pennsylvania's LAYNIE BROWNE (Oct. 3, The Shed, www.english.duke.edu), "a stunner and a delight," while Colorado's BHANU KAPIL (Nov. 21, The Shed) writes potent hybrid forms backlit by her British-Indian heritage.
Of special note in Chris Tonelli's prodigious So & So Reading Series is the homecoming of former Raleighite ERIC AMLING (Oct. 8, CAM Raleigh, www.soandsomag.org), whose 2014 book, From the Author's Private Collection, published by Tonelli's Birds LLC, thrives on deadpan humor. Amling appears with another terrific, edgy Birds LLC author, Monica McClure.
But if this all sounds too highbrow, let's cut to the chase: NC COMICON (Nov. 13–15, Durham Convention Center, www.nccomicon.com) is back with a vengeance, touting big-name guests such as Bernard Chang, Christos Gage, My Chemical Romance singer-turned-comics artist Gerard Way and INDY favorite Afua Richardson.