Stuck inside in Mobile doesn’t mean you’ve got to have the blues. There’s plenty to help us through isolation’s tunnel to freer times ahead.
If the darkness suits you, there’s a new anthology to suit your shadowy heart. “Alabama Noir” releases April 7, the latest in a lengthy series of similar works published by Akashic Books. It holds 16 tales packed with sinister ambition, iniquity, revenge and the prices we pay for our schemes.
The author list is heralded, with Thom Gossom Jr., Ravi Howard, Ace Atkins and Winston Groom among them. The latter in that quartet is one of a handful from the Mobile Bay area.
From Baldwin County, Suzanne Hudson’s tale is built around our last regionally infamous disaster, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Groom’s story is surprisingly amusing, considering the genre. Set up and down Baldwin County, from Point Clear to the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, its blood-curdling vengeance is only matched by ineptitude.
Michelle Richmond’s “What Brings You Back Home” feels the most contemporary of the local contributions. It captures the singular perspective of those as familiar with life beyond Mobile as they are with the Azalea City’s history and cultural mutations.
“For some reason, the developers in those decades gravitated toward the word ‘plantation,’ as though it were aspirational rather than shameful, a word without a history,” Richmond’s central character mused.
The author shows a good sense for detail without growing pedantic or flowery. Its themes are salient and political.
This reviewer’s sensibilities were best met by Carolyn Haines’ “The Price of Indulgence” since its blunt approach, literary rhythms, setting and characters hewed closely to the hard-boiled model. Not surprising considering her journalistic background.
“Ten years of hard labor had given him a physical presence. Greed had given him the golden ticket of fleecing the desperate,” Haines described a radio evangelist.
Its era is long gone, as evidenced by the Mobile Register’s Government Street location. Haines flips the script on gender, trading the stereotypical private eye for a young, female reporter named Jackie. Its downtown is still dominated by waterfront life, where bars more likely had hookers than artisanal cocktails.
Check with local bookstores for ordering. You can also go to akashicbooks.com for information.
More so than previous eras, our contemporary age can weather quarantine in unique ways. Some aim to employ technical advantage.
If you want to be a part of history more than just witness it, then here’s your shot. The History Museum of Mobile wants locals to help document this major historical event from the perspective of everyday Americans. Volunteers can record personal experiences by submitting emails, letters, texts, social media posts and journals. The results will become part of the museum’s permanent collection. Everyone’s experience matters.
Journals don’t have to be in a specific format. Handwritten, typed, prose, poetry, drawings — they’re all welcome. Just make sure you make it personal, about the changes to your routine, to your family and friends.
Don’t worry about grammar or spelling. Everyone’s experiences are valuable.
If you’re going to submit correspondence or social media posts, collect it into a single file and email the museum staff. If you include another person’s correspondence, acquire their permission for the submission.
All submissions should include your full name, date of birth, place of birth and home address.
Despite being used as a vehicle in attack ads condemning a politico for his support of cultural life, Alabama Contemporary Art Center (ACAC) is determined to prove their vitality and positive impact. They’re re-allocating funds for small commissions toward therapeutic ends.
In “Postcards From Quarantine,” ACAC wants artists from Mobile and Baldwin counties to submit original work under the theme, “We’re all in this together.” All submissions will be in their website’s virtual gallery. According to a press release, 10 winning designs will be selected for printing and winning artists will receive $150 each for their submission, as well as a 10-pack of postcards featuring their design.
Submissions should be 5 inches by 7 inches and must be submitted by midnight, April 6. Submission criteria are at alabamacontemporary.org. Starting April 12, packages of the winning submissions will be sold on the ACAC website.
ACAC is taking volunteers to write postcards to the community’s most vulnerable residents: individuals quarantined in nursing homes, homeless shelters, halfway houses and the like. Each volunteer will receive a list of 10 first names and 10 artist-designed postcards, postage paid and ready to mail.
More than alleviating boredom, ACAC is strengthening community bonds. The hope they provide gleams at trial’s end, when we all emerge together.
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