Avid Bookshop’s main entrance next to Fire Hall No. 2 on Prince Avenue was blocked off with amps, guitars and music stands last Friday night. The backdoor, however, was wide open and beckoned visitors in with a warm glow, a table of food, smiling employees who appear to genuinely like their jobs, and the tentative sound of guitars in the background. A cozy, truly local experience was offered as one of the last remaining independent bookstores hosted a reading by writer James Calemine.
Bloodkin, which features Eric Carter and Danny Hutchens on guitar and William Tonks on Dobro, accompanied the writer as he read selections from his poetry and short stories. Seated among the shelves bulging with biographies, mysteries and new fiction, the small crowd was appreciative. “It’s a big buzz to be here,” Calemine smiled as he began.
Calemine, Carter and Hutchens have a long history of collaboration and were housemates in the Boulevard neighborhood during their younger days. Their work is companionable. Both the band and the writer have a liking for down-and-out characters in a distinctively Southern landscape. In Calemine’s world, there are lots of sucker punches, long legged waitresses and cigarette smoke (lots of cigarette smoke), and “barstools scatter across the floor.” Flannery O’Conner and Bob Dylan are influences. That weird and all-encompassing tag “Americana,” bandied about far too often, actually seems to describe these guys.
The Local Stranger, a collection of short stories by James Calemine, is now available at Avid Bookshop, located at 493 Prince Ave. Call 706-352-2060 or visit avidbookshop.com.