Author Sonny Brewer to Speak at Houston Cole Library Sept. 24

Author Sonny Brewer to Speak at Houston Cole Library Sept. 24


Author Sonny Brewer (courtesy)

As legend tells it, Ghosthead Oak was just a sapling when De Soto’s boot brushed against it in 1536. The king of all live oaks along the Gulf Coast, it was so named by tribal people who claimed that, one cold night during the tenth moon, the glowing cadence of 10,000 fireflies created a burl in the tree’s surface that looked like a specter’s face. From the honey that could be scooped by the handful from within its trunk to the family that buried its patriarch in the shadow of its massive canopy, everything about the tree appeared sacred.

But as is the case with human nature, sometimes even the most sacred things cannot last.

Sonny Brewer, author of “The Widow and the Tree,” will be at Jacksonville State University’s Houston Cole Library on Thursday, Sept. 24 to discuss his novel inspired by actual events. The book, his fourth, was chosen as the 2012 Alabama Library Association’s Novel of the Year.

Past attendees of JSU’s On The Brink Conference will remember Brewer well; he was on the authors’ panel in 2006 for his first novel, “The Poet of Tolstoy Park,” and again in 2008, where he shared passages from another of his works, “Cormac.”

Brewer, of Fairhope, is a former newspaper editor who served as editor-in-chief at MacAdam/Cage, an independent publisher in San Francisco. He was also editor-in-chief at the city magazine in Mobile, editor and publisher of “The Eastern Shore Quarterly,” and editor of the “Southern Bard” and “Red Bluff Review.” A fan of anthologies, he edited “Stories from the Blue Moon Café,” vols. 1-5, and owned Over the Transom bookstore in Fairhope.

widowtreecoverBrewer, who says he never lets the truth get in the way of a good story, became familiar with Inspiration Oak, the real live oak that served as his own inspiration for “The Widow and the Tree” when he moved to Fairhope. At a party, a local approached the newcomer and asked him if he knew about “the big tree.”

“I said, ‘I know lots about big trees,’ but then he said, ‘No.’ He meant THE big tree,” Brewer recalls.

And so the pair took off into the frigid December night, down a dirt road, past barbed wire fencing and no trespassing signs, to find the massive oak. The night was dark as pitch, and at first Brewer could not see. Then, as his eyes adjusted, he was transfixed.

“I was awestruck, completely mesmerized by the proportions of this tree,” Brewer remembers.

He returned in the light of day and met the property owner. It turned out that he was not the first person to show up at her door, but he was the first to ask for permission to visit her tree. That conversation and ensuing events surrounding the tree served as the impetus for the novel, which Brewer began writing on an Amtrak train.

How far will a person go to protect the sacred?

Come to the Houston Cole Library Thursday at 7 p.m. to meet author Sonny Brewer and find out.

This event is sponsored by the Friends of the Houston Cole Library and is free and open to the public. In addition to free refreshments, books will be available for purchase and signing at the event. (Cash and checks accepted).

For more information, please email Angie Finley or call 256-782-5468.