by Edward Nawotka -- Publishers Weekly, 7/10/2007 7:40:00 AMIan Lloyd, the owner of the Martha Washington Inn in Abingdon, Va., has committed $20,000 to build "The Ultimate Southern Library" and invited Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance member stores to submit proposals for suitable titles. In return, he will purchase the titles from appropriate SIBA stores and the books will be showcased in the inn's recently renovated library. The deadline for proposals is this Friday, July 13. Click here for guidelines.
Originally built in 1832 as a home for Gen. Francis Preston, the stately building in the southwest corner of the state served as a Civil War hospital and a private college for women, before being turned into an inn in 1935. Wanda Jewell, executive director of SIBA, says she was initially approached by Lloyd, who wanted to build a book collection that would reflect the inn's Southern milieu and culture. Knowing that such stalwarts as William Faulkner and Tennessee Williams would make the cut, Jewell suggested her member stores would be the best judge of the contemporary Southern classics. SIBA is maintaining a running list of titles on its Web site. The first 100 suggestions are posted and include titles by such contemporary authors as Ernest J. Gaines, Clyde Edgerton, John Berendt and Pat Conroy.
The list is sure to generate debate among aficionados, if not a bit of controversy. One anonymous bookseller has already suggested, The Education of Little Tree by Forrest Carter-the popular, fraudulent Native American "autobiography" written by a member of the Ku Klux Klan.