Lunch at the Library-Redux!

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 26, 2004

Autumn at the Library marks the beginning of its annual fall-winter series, Lunch with an Author. Initiated seven years ago, the innovative project has brought “hours of fellowship and learning to the community,” says Library Director Becky Cothran-Nichols.

The 2004 series was originally scheduled to open on Thursday, September 16 with the feature author Robin McDonald, who is new to Selma but Selma is well known to him through preparation of his book “Heart of a Small Town – Photographs of Alabama Towns.” Several of the beautifully done photographs are of Selma scenes, along with those from other Alabama towns.

Now, however, thanks to Hurricane Ivan who came calling with a vengeance, Lunch with an Author will open on Thursday, Oct. 7 at noon. McDonald will be present as will Mary Ward Brown, well-known Black Belt author, who wrote the narrative to accompany many of the photographs and she will be present that day.

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McDonald’s book is a “paean to a time when small rural communities all over this country bustled with life,” state those familiar with it. He has drawn his subjects from places that have been bypassed and left somewhat deserted:

Verbena, Mentone, Winfield, Burnt Corn, the Black Belt, the Wiregrass and the Piedmont.

He does not record pretty picture; rather, he chooses common objects and photographs them with great sensitivity.

In the sensitively written foreword, Robert Gamble states “Robin McDonald’s images suggested an underlying pulse-beat of human existence that was the same: a rhythm of hope, florescence and decay lived out in communities around the globe. It is all the more remarkable that his photographs manage to do so without introducing a single human form or face.”

Gamble also remarks the fact that the photographs are “animated and enriched by lyrical quotations borrowed from an array of Southern writers, from the nearly forgotten Augusta Evans Wilson to the well-known Truman Capote, Harper Lee and Rick Bragg.”

McDonald, Gamble adds, “has explored with the soul of a poet and now shows us through the discerning eye of a gifted artist in ‘Heart of a Small Town.'”

Ferrol Sams was the first celebrity guest, appearing at a dinner celebrating the opening of the new Library. It was so well received by library users, Nichols says, “that the series is an annual feature of the regular Library schedule.” The program seeks out and cultivates local and regional Southern writers. Over the years, familiar authors such as Bob Inman, Kathryn Windham, Clifton Kirkpatrick, Jeanie Thompson, Fred Gray and Ann George have been on the agenda.

“Suddenly,” comments Nichols, “authors were eager to come to Selma and enjoy our hospitality and welcoming receptions.”

Carefully planned, the luncheons are scheduled to allow 30 minutes for convivial enjoyment of library staff food specialties: chicken salad, iced tea with lemon, spinach sandwiches and finger desserts. “Always something you can eat on your knee,” Nichols explains.

After lunch, the guest author speaks for 30 minutes, with time given for questions from the audience. Books and autographs are always available, and reservations are a must for the lunch, which costs $7. There is no charge for the program and those who prefer to skip lunch may do so, Nichols says. Lunch at the Library begins promptly at noon on the scheduled dates. Be sure to call 874-1725 for reservations.