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Archive for October, 2011

‘At the End of the Road’ By Grant Jerkins

Book Review
“At the End of the Road”
By Grant Jerkins
Berkley Prime Crime, 320 pages, $15
Book launch party

7:15 p.m. Tuesday, free. Decatur Library Auditorium, 215 Sycamore St., Decatur. 404-370-8450, Ext. 2225;

By Gina Webb

jerkinsNostalgia and serial killers — the two just don’t sound compatible, do they? But in his second book, Atlanta author Grant Jerkins successfully grafts a bogeyman of skin-crawling proportions onto a poignant coming-of-age story set in the rural Georgia of his youth.

It’s not the first time Jerkins’ childhood has inspired his fiction. In his debut novel, “A Very Simple Crime” (2010), a memory of getting lost in a dark house one night evolved into a tale of family secrets and murder that reviewers called “an extremely nasty study in abnormal psychology, ” a novel whose author seemed “determined to peer into the darkness.”

If possible, the darkness settles even more deeply in “At the End of the Road, ” where a car …

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Culture notes: ASO releases all-Rachmaninov CD; Ben Johnson honored for ASO, Woodward work; Ludwig Symphony’s season opener

ASO releases all-Rachmaninov CD

Music director Robert Spano will conduct the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in a program including Rachmaninov’s Piano Concert No. 3, featuring Garrick Ohlsson, at New York’s Carnegie Hall on Nov. 5. Atlantans can preview the performance by the ASO and Ohlsson in a CD released this week,10/25 its third on its own label, ASO Media. Also on the all-Rachmaninov release is Spano leading the ASO in “Symphonic Dances.” HOWARD POUSNER

Johnson honored for ASO, Woodward leadership
Ben F. Johnson III will be honored as the 2011 Volunteer Fundraiser of the Year by the Greater Atlanta Chapter of the Association of FundraisingCQ Professionals at the association’s annual luncheon on Nov. 8.

Johnson, who served as board chair of Atlanta Symphony Orchestra for three years, was nominated by the ASO and Woodward Academy. The retired Alston & Bird attorney and managing partner is in his 31st year as chairman of Woodward’s governing board.

“Ben’s …

Continue reading Culture notes: ASO releases all-Rachmaninov CD; Ben Johnson honored for ASO, Woodward work; Ludwig Symphony’s season opener »

‘Nothing: A Portrait of Insomnia’ By Blake Butler

Book Review
“Nothing: A Portrait of Insomnia”
By Blake Butler; Harper Perennial; $14.99, 288 pages

Butler, who is also the author of “Ever”and”Scorch Atlas, “grew up in Atlanta and still lives here. He blogs at www.gillesdeleuze committedsuicideandsowilldr, and edits the blogs HTML Giant (

by Gina Webb

ButlerA little more than halfway through Blake Butler’s new book, he reveals a sure-fire cure for insomnia, courtesy of the great director, Alfred Hitchcock, who shared it during an episode of his classic TV series. “‘It comes in capsule form, ‘ Hitchcock says, arranging a row of five bullets nose-up on his desk. ‘”For best results, they must be taken internally.’”

It’s one of the lighter moments in “Nothing: A Portrait of Insomnia, ” Butler’s hallucinatory, stream-of-consciousness exploration of a condition that affects about 60 million Americans at some point in their lives.

“Every moment that I sleep I’ve fought for with my …

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‘Devil Sent the Rain’ By Tom Piazza

Book Review
“Devil Sent the Rain”
By Tom Piazza
Harper Perennial, $14.99, 304 pages

By Gina Webb

PiazzaIt’s a Sunday afternoon and New Orleans writer Tom Piazza has stopped at a flea market and is hunting through boxes of what he calls “shellac” — 78s from the late 1920s and early ’30s, the kind of records prized by collectors, each containing about three minutes’ worth of song on each side. Blues singers. Jazz bands. Old-timey string bands.

Piazza compares their brief songs to “good fiction, ” in which every detail counts. They convey “such wit, such intensity, such heartbreak, such style, such care with the expressive detail, ” he notes, that “each record is like a note in a bottle. They made the records and the records landed in places no one could predict, and they added oxygen to the world.”

“Note in a Bottle” is one of the highlights of Piazza’s new book, “Devil Sent the Rain: Music and Writing in Desperate America, ” a mixed bag of music profiles, essays, letters …

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Roswell theater troupe gets ‘new life’ with $260,000 grant

By Howard Pousner

Georgia Ensemble Theatre has announced that it has received a $260,000 grant, giving “new life” to the Roswell company founded in 1992.

That was the phrase GET board president Carla Crowell used to describe the impact of the Thoresen Foundation grant on north Fulton’s only professional theater company and one of only a handful of metro professional troupes operating outside I-285.

“It provides the stability we need to enter our third decade of fulfilling the theater’s mission of captivating the current generation of theater-goers while, at the same time, nurturing future generations,” Crowell said in a statement.

The grant marks a sharp reversal of fortunes for GET, which in July 2009 launched an emergency fundraising drive after running up a more than $100,000 deficit, the worst in its history.

GET managing director Anita Allen-Farley said the theater, operating with a $850,000 budget this year, had designated a $45,000 surplus to go toward …

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Culture notes: Honors for Georgia Shakespeare’s Richard Garner and Young Audiences, Woodruff Arts Center

Georgia Shakespeare’s Garner honored

Georgia Shakespeare’s Richard Garner was selected as one of five finalists for the Zelda Fichandler Award, recognizing an outstanding director or choreographer transforming the regional arts landscape.

“I am deeply honored to be acknowledged in this way for our work at Georgia Shakespeare, and am humbled to be included in this group of finalists whose work I truly respect,” Garner said in a statement. “Regional theaters are wholly reliant on the artists and patrons in their communities, and I thank the metro Atlanta area for its support in both areas. I share this honor with my community.”

The annual Fichandler award is being presented to Blanka Zizka, artistic director of the Wilma Theater in Philadelphia, this evening in a public presentation at Arena Stage in Washington. Howard Shalwitz, artistic director, of Washington’s Woolly Mammoth Theatre was picked as Distinguished Finalist, and Garner was one of three finalists, along …

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Atlanta Opera’s big warm-up for 2011-12 season

By Howard Pousner

As it prepares to open its 2011-12 season, the Atlanta Opera seems to be everywhere:

  • It will present a free season preview, “Opera With Edge,” at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 6 at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. Atlanta attorney and long-time opera supporter Bob Edge will give an overview of the three-opera season (all at Cobb Energy), and Atlanta Opera singers will perform sequences from “Lucia di Lammermoor” (Nov. 12-20), “The Golden Ticket” (March 3-11) and “Don Giovanni” (April 28-May 6). Reservations required: or 404-591-2931.
  • At 4 p.m. Oct. 22, company staff and chorus will re-enact the mad scene in Donizetti’s classic opera — aka “Bloody Lucius” –  in the Little 5 Points Halloween Festival and Parade.
  • The company will present a free Opera Chat with members of the “Lucia di Lammermoor” cast and artistic and production crews, 7 p.m. Oct. 25 at Barnes & Noble Buckhead, 2900 Peachtree Road, N.E., Atlanta.
  • It is …

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Major renovation being planned for Ga. Tech’s Ferst Center

By Howard Pousner

Georgia Tech’s Ferst Center for the Arts plans a renovation of the 20-year-old campus arts venue. Neither a timeline nor a budget has been set, but the Atlanta architectural firm BLDGS will lead the design and is now working through the discovery phase.

The project is expected to include a redesigned lobby area that will boast a lobby stage, permanent concessions area, new box office space and a donor event area. The renovation also will include an outdoor plaza, a new stage lighting system and renovated bathrooms and dressing rooms.

“The renovations will provide a better audience experience and new performance spaces that are appropriate for different types of performing artists,” Ferst director George Thompson said in a statement. “The initial plans are to visually ‘open up’ the building to the campus, and we expect all the changes to greatly expand the functionality of the building.”

The work is expected to take place “when it will have …

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Culture notes:, receive matching $20,000 grants; architect tours his paintings Saturday

Possible Futures gives grants for arts sites

The Atlanta-based foundation Possible Futures has awarded $20,000 challenge grants to online arts publications and The grants are designed to encourage  each to continue coverage of Atlanta’s arts scene while providing incentive for others to support them, too.

Louis Corrigan, founder of the private non-profit foundation, said the two arts sites “have become key components of Atlanta’s broader cultural dialogue at an exciting time in the development of the city’s arts ecology.

“Meaningful arts criticism is vital,” he continued, “in that it challenges artists to do their best work and helps a broad audience understand and appreciate that work.”

The commitment is part of Possible Futures’ $100,000 initiative in 2011 to foster critical writing and dialogue about Atlanta’s arts. That initiative includes the early November publication of “Noplaceness: Art in a Post-Urban Landscape,” the first book …

Continue reading Culture notes:, receive matching $20,000 grants; architect tours his paintings Saturday »

Culture notes: Georgia Council for the Arts seeks input; a ‘Wicked’ box office record

Planning for Georgia Council for the Arts

With new leadership and a new place in the state government structure, the Georgia Council for the Arts will launch a strategic planning process with a event led by Gov. Nathan Deal on Oct. 31. The 1:30 p.m. public session at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia in Buckhead is the first in a series of statewide community forums beginning the development of a five-year plan for the GCA, which moved under the umbrella of Georgia’s Department of Economic Development earlier this year. 75 Bennett St., Atlanta.

“The governor not only understands and champions the value of arts education and the role of the arts in tourism, business development and community development but also recognizes the industry’s contribution to Georgia’s economy,” GCA Director, Karen L. Paty said. “His presence and participation at the kick-off underscores the state’s commitment to the creative industries.” HOWARD POUSNER

A …

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