In a Magnolia Minute: Secrets of a Late Bloomer
By: Nan Graham
John F. Blair Publisher
Signing November 18th, 6:30 p.m.
New Hanover County Library—Northeast
Over the last week, I have been battling a nasty cold. Every year, around this time, I get slammed with a cough, a stuffy nose and a helium balloon for a head. There is one difference this year: I am home with my family—people who hold dear the tradition of curing any ailment with an Italian antidote. The first to be pushed upon me: garlic-stuffed cherry peppers soaked in olive oil. After eating three, I could do more than breath again—I could clear a room faster than the USMC infantry simply by exhaling. However, my face still felt puffy and my head continued to feel as though it was separated from my body.
Enter my grandfather.
“Salute!” he said. His remedy: hot lemonade with a shot of whiskey. I couldn’t tell if my head found itself reattached or if my fluid-filled face decreased in swelling. My grandfather’s idea of a shot would have been more suitable for Luciano Pavarotti than a lady my size, and according to my mother, I sing an awful rendition of “O Sole Mio.” Family alleviations aside, what I really needed to feel better was a good book that contained a great, healing laugh. Who better to deliver than encore’s next book club author, Nan Graham?
Over the past decade, listeners of WHQR, the NPR affiliate in Wilmington, have listened to Graham’s delightful stories of the South and its inhabitants. Now, Graham’s second collection of hilariously entertaining anecdotal essays, “In a Magnolia Minute: Secrets of A Late Bloomer,” readers are reintroduced to her notes and expansive view. Within its pages we’ll meet the Southerner who savors spoonfuls of Vicks vapor rub for dessert, outruns crazed enthusiasts in a stampede at a fern sale, and travels back to the momentous day Nan’s finger was erroneously taken for bacon in a BLT. We’ll also find Graham’s mother’s refusal to recognize time zones and take a glance at the odd Holy image gracing Graham‘s master bedroom ceiling. In other words, we’re in for a damn good time.
“I haven’t hit the wall yet, Tiffanie,” Graham explained to me in her thick, decadent twang. “There’s always something bizarre that happens everyday—rain, shine or hell and high water, there I am.
See, I appreciate the art of the story. People aren’t telling these stories any more like they used too. The long verbiage sitting on the porch—it was our tradition. The choreography of the South was our biggest gift and our biggest advantage. Now, it’s short hand and texting. Language and conversation certainly has changed. Everything is hurry, hurry hurry! Holy cats! It’s all moving so fast! Slow down!”
Happily Graham admits she never received the memo about retiring into the Golden Age; she’s currently holding down her 17th year doing commentary on WHQR. She dishes on all things distinctly Southern, and there’s no sign she’ll stop. However, could we expect anything different from the mother of the oldest worldwide Cystic Fibrosis double-lung transplant survivor ? I think not. In fact, Graham’s seasoned eye, acutely tuned ear for the absurd, amusing and steadfast endurance regarding Southern life is exactly why “In a Magnolia Minute: Secrets of a Late Bloomer” is so important as a book-club read.
“It will show a longer perspective of the old,” Graham says. “The way things were. It’s a pick-up and put down read that’s fun! God knows we need that.”
Whether Yankee or native, “In a Magnolia Minute: Secrets of A Late Bloomer” will undoubtedly be noted within our book club as a notorious and essential field guide on all distinctive aspects of Southern life. Graham promises her work will remind readers that Southerners are full of tradition, and this certainly should warm our hearts with laughter during the cold weather and holiday season just over the horizon.
As for my cold? I’m following Graham’s advice. I’m digging threw my father’s bar for some bourbon. “Have some,” she insisted. “If it doesn’t work the first time, have some more. It will work!”
Nan Graham will be the featured speaker at the New Hanover Country Library-Northeast Branch, presented by the Friends of the Library this Thursday, November 18th at 6:30 p.m. Two Sisters Bookery will handle book sales after the program, and Nan will be available to personally autograph copies.