We had a memorable visit late last week from Susan Rebecca White, a writer from Atlanta who recently published her debut novel, Bound South, with Touchstone Books. The novel is getting raves ("Move over, Margaret Mitchell — and Tom Wolfe, too! Nobody has ever written about Atlanta with such insight and humor," said Lee Smith), and it's one of our most popular books at the moment, alongside Kathryn Stockett's The Help. (Interestingly, the two writers live minutes apart in Atlanta.)
Ms. White, who is married to a writer (Alan Deutschman) and has a popular writer sister (Lauren Myracle), gave a delightful reading from her novel, which examines the lives of three unique Atlanta women from different walks of life. Her brief readings from each of the three voices displayed a genuine humor and keen character insight, which runs deep throughout the book. Congrats to her on a fine debut. Get your signed copy here.
Among Ms. White's varied interests is a love of gardening. Like us, she was inspired by Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma. After reading it, she carved out a portion of her front yard to grow vegetables (photo left) and has since developed an obsession. We toasted her earth-friendliness and commiserated about the travails of urban gardening, including all manner of varmintry. A true vegetable gardener, we discovered, puts all animal-loving tendencies aside when critters raid the patch.
Susan had a particularly intriguing method for warding off squirrels, which involves capturing said rodent, burning it, then spreading its ashes around the garden. No doubt the scent and general creepiness of such a desecration would send a chill up any squirrel's spine and encourage its return to nut-foraging. If this scenario sounds promising and you lack a small firepit or tin can in which to burn the squirrel, we suggest capturing the animal, decapitating it, and posting its tiny, big-eyed skull on a stake at the garden's entrance. This method also works well for raccoons and house cats.
Having mentioned all of this, we feel it only fair to stress that Ms. White has not attempted the above squirrel-eradication plan. Nor did she dream it up, though her fiction is not without its own dark humor. Enjoy the book, and happy planting....