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Big-name authors coming to Kansas

  • Special to The Eagle
  • Published Sunday, April 14, 2013, at 7:55 a.m.

Wichita book lovers, there’s an embarrassment of riches for you this week: four big-name authors are doing readings in the area over seven days, three in Wichita and one in Salina. And there’s something for everyone: Southern culture, wry humor, literary speculative fiction and memoir.

Ann B. Ross

The author of the “Miss Julia” series – the latest of which is “Miss Julia Stirs Up Trouble” (Viking, 368 pages, $26.95) – Ann B. Ross has a doctorate from the University of North Carolina and taught literature before becoming a full-time writer. She’s hit the best-seller list several times with her “Miss Julia” books, of which there are 14 at this point.

Particularly beloved among book clubs for their light stories and charmingly quirky characters, the books follow the adventures of Miss Julia, a wealthy “woman of a certain age” in the small Southern town of Abbotsville. Miss Julia gets involved in the lives and affairs of her neighbors and never hesitates to, as evidenced by the title of the first book in the series, speak her mind.

Ross’s appearance is the final event in this year’s Penguin Author Series at Watermark Books. The reading and book-signing starts at 7 p.m. Tuesday, and tickets are required. Tickets, which range from $15 to $25 and include a paperback copy of “Miss Julia to the Rescue,” may be purchased at Watermark, 4701 E. Douglas. Call 316-682-1181 for more information.

David Sedaris

Best known for his sardonic humor and unusual take on everyday situations, David Sedaris is coming back to Kansas for a performance at the Stiefel Theatre in Salina. Sedaris’ best-selling essay collections “Naked,” “Me Talk Pretty One Day,” “Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim” and “When You Are Engulfed in Flames” have entertained and amused readers internationally, and his National Public Radio broadcast of “Santaland Diaries,” wryly detailing his holiday job as Crumpet the Elf at Macy’s, has become a holiday classic.

Sedaris is an author well-suited to live appearances: He’s been nominated three times for Grammy Awards for spoken word and comedy. His latest book, “Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls” (Little, Brown and Company, 288 pages, $27), will be released April 23.

Sedaris will appear Friday at 8 p.m. at the Stiefel Theatre, 151 S. Santa Fe Ave. in Salina. Tickets cost $38, $49 or $55; they can be purchased at the theater box office, by calling the theater at 785-827-1998, online at ticketmaster.com or at Watermark (only the $49 tickets are available at the bookstore or through its website at www.watermarkbooks).

Kate Atkinson

Readers who were introduced to Kate Atkinson’s Yorkshire detective Jackson Brodie through the “Masterpiece Mystery” series “Case Histories” may have been glad to find there are four books featuring the moody investigator. But those who like her writing style and insight also will have delved into her five other books and found a writer who can transcend genre boundaries. Her latest, “Life After Life,” views the events of the 20th century – particularly the effects of war and the role of women – through the lens of a main character, Ursula Todd, who keeps dying and being reborn.

Atkinson will make a special after-hours appearance at Watermark at 7 p.m. Saturday. Tickets, which are available at the store, are $30, $40 for a couple, and include one copy of “Life After Life.” Read a review of “Life After Life” on Page 3C.

Cheryl Strayed

Cheryl Strayed’s memoir “Wild” (Vintage, 336 pages, $15.95 paper) shot up the best-seller lists last year as readers – including Oprah Winfrey – connected with her story of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail after a low point in her life. Her solo trek of more than 1,000 miles gave her ample time for soul-searching and personal reflection, making this not a memoir of the outdoors and nature but of an internal journey, one where physical hardship leads to emotional healing.

Since the success of “Wild,” Strayed has released a collection of her “Dear Sugar” advice columns from the Rumpus, and her novel “Torch,” the story of a family dealing with the early death of a mother and wife, has been reissued by Vintage.

Strayed will read and sign books at 7 p.m. April 22 at Watermark. The reading is free; the dinner-plus event is already full.

Lisa McLendon teaches journalism at the University of Kansas. Reach her at lisa.mclendon@gmail.com.

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