When Janis Haley, director of development at Historic Macon, realized the impact that nationally renown author Sena Jeter Naslunds appearance in Macon would have, she realized a bigger venue was necessary. So, the Sidney Salon series event, happening Wednesday, was moved to High Street Unitarian Universalist Church.
We expect a pretty good sized crowd that may be too big for our normal venue, the Sidney Lanier Cottage, said Haley. Also, Sena Jeter Naslund is a Unitarian and often references the Unitarian churches. In (her book) Ahabs Wife, the main character struggles with religion and a belief in God and settles eventually into a lifestyle with the Unitarian church. We thought it might be very fitting to have this particular event.
Haley said the reason Naslund was invited to Macon is that she is making a presentation at the Jimmy Carter Library in Atlanta the day before and she is quite a popular writer.
We are very lucky to get her and we are honored that she chose to stay an extra day to come down and be with us, she said.
About her appearance in Macon, Naslund said she will be reading from her new book, The Fountain of St. James Court; or, Portrait of the Artist as an Old Woman.
This is a book about two artists. One is a contemporary fictional writer. The other is an 18th century historical painter. Her name was Elisabeth Vigee Le Brun. She is a historical figure and her portraits earned her lasting fame and the admiration of Marie Antoinette, but her life was caught up in the politics of the French Revolution. She is a person who devoted her life to her art.
She found joy in her work, despite the struggles, Naslund said. The contemporary writer lives in Louisville, Kentucky, on St. James Court. We have a fictional writer and an historical character, both undergoing the same struggles to find balance in their lives.
Naslund said she feels that women in particular will be able to identify with her new book.
Creative women today, no matter what kind of creative work, always have to find some balance between who they are personally and their relationship to their families, and who they are to the artistic world, Naslund said.
Both of my characters are passionately devoted to their children, but still cannot protect them. Most parents go through this particular agony -- you cant control the world. But art is something where you can find control and retreat when the world is bearing down on you in unbearable ways.
Ive travelled all over the country and all over the world, Naslund said.
Im often asked where I get my ideas, and one of the things Im trying to accomplish with this book is showing that we get ideas from our lives. Life feeds art and art enriches our lives. There is a circular connection and I really feel that this is the heart of the book.
Sena Jeter Nasland
When: 5:30 p.m. reception; 6 p.m. reading Sept. 25
Where: Unitarian Universalist Church, 1085 High St.
Cost: Free for Historic Macon Members; $5 non-members; $3 students
Information: 478-743-3851; www.historicmacon.org