06/29/2005: Sad news from the Memphis literary scene....
UPDATE: I see Karen scooped me on this. That's what I get for not being a news junkie like she is. I'll still leave this up, since I refer to the local fishwrap's obit vice the AP's.
Local novelist/historian/celebrity Shelby Foote has died at the age of 88.
While Foote started his literary career as a novelist, he is probably best known for his three volume work The Civil War: A Narrative. That work led to a gig as a talking head for Ken Burns's monumental PBS mega-documentary The Civil War, which catapulted Foote into major celebrity status (and, according to a TV interview he gave which I remember seeing, resulted in his receiving a number of marriage proposals). The Burns documentary did so much to bring the limelight to Foote (or so goes the story that I've heard) that he had to give up his long-listed Memphis area telephone number and get an unpublished number, in order to stem the tide of out-of-the-blue telephone calls and in-person visitors to his East Parkway home.
His appearance on the Burns film wasn't his only brush with notoriety, though. According to the obituary in the Memphis Commercial-Appeal:
The American Legion in Memphis considered his novel "Follow Me Down" to be a "dirty book" and took it to the city dump to be burned along with "Lady Chatterley's Lover."Come to think of it, I'd be proud to have such a distinction myself.
"I considered it an honor to be burned along with D.H. Lawrence," Foote always said.
Requesciat in Pace, Mr. Foote.
Len on 06.29.05 @ 10:02 AM CST