Thursday, December 21, 2017 is the Winter Solstice. To most of us, the Winter Solstice is merely the shortest day of the year. Thank goodness the longest dark days of winter are behind us! For others, the solstice marks a pagan celebration, a Bacchanalia, a feast like no other.
The Winter Solstice plays a crucial role in The Epicureans, a serialized novel by Charles McNair. I talked to Charles about this eerie, fictional celebration and his decision to publish the book one chapter at a time on The Bitter Southerner in Episode 19 of Literary Atlanta.
Charles lives with his family in Bogotá, Colombia. We spoke via Skype.
I first met Charles McNair about ten years ago when he was teaching a writing workshop here in Atlanta. A native of Alabama, Charles is a storyteller of the highest order who never meets a stranger.
Although he is a prolific writer in his daily life as a freelance writer, editor and consultant on assignment to some of the world’s best known publications and businesses, Charles has only produced two book-length works in the last 30 or so years.
Of course one of those books, his first novel Land O’ Goshen, was a nominee for the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Not too shabby. His long-awaited second novel, Pickett’s Charge, came out in 2013, a year that marked the 150th anniversary of that bloodiest of Civil War battles, Gettysburg. In terms of production, 2017 signals a “best of” year for Charles, as he’s had not one, but two different book-length works released.
In September, his biography of Atlanta’s first Jewish mayor, Sam Massell, was published by Mercer University Press. Charles met the 90-year-old Massell while on assignment for an alumni magazine. The two forged a partnership and the resulting book was Play It Again, Sam: The Notable Life of Sam Massell, Atlanta’s First Minority Mayor.
While Charles’s other book-length project has yet to be captured between two cardboard covers, he’s gained new fiction fans with his serialized novel, The Epicureans. Published each week or so on the online publication The Bitter Southerner, The Epicureans is in its final chapters.
Books Mentioned in This Episode