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Visiting Writer Alan Lightman

6:00 pm – 9:00 pm

story booth
438 N. Cleveland St.
Memphis, TN 38104 United States

Presented by Burke’s Book Store and Crosstown Arts


Mr. Lightman will be reading from and signing copies of his memoir, Screening Room: Family Pictures ($25.95 hardcover, Pantheon Books) 

A Q & A session will be moderated by Memphis historian and author Wayne Dowdy

From the acclaimed author of the international best seller Einstein’s Dreams, here is a stunning, lyrical memoir of Memphis from the 1930s through the 1960s that includes the early days of the movies and a powerful grandfather whose ghost remains an ever-present force in the lives of his descendants. Alan Lightman’s grandfather M.A. Lightman was the family’s undisputed patriarch: it was his movie theater empire that catapulted the Lightmans to prominence in the South, his fearless success that both galvanized and paralyzed his children and grandchildren. In this moving, impressionistic memoir, the author chronicles his return to Memphis in an attempt to understand the origins he so eagerly left behind forty years earlier. As aging uncles and aunts begin telling family stories, Lightman rediscovers his southern roots and slowly recognizes the errors in his perceptions of both his grandfather and his father, who was himself crushed by M.A. The result is an unforgettable family saga that extends from 1880 to the present, set against a throbbing century of Memphis–the rhythm and blues, the barbecue and pecan pie, the segregated society–and including personal encounters with Elvis, Martin Luther King Jr., and E. H. “Boss” Crump. At the heart of it all is a family haunted by the memory of its domineering patriarch and the author’s struggle to understand his conflicted loyalties.

2015 marks the 100th anniversary of Malco Theatres, created by Lightman’s grandfatther in 1915. Available for purchase at this event will be the commemorative Memphis Heritage 2015 calendar, which showcases vintage photographs of Malco movie marquees, theater lobbies and other images from decades past.

Alan Lightman is the author of several novels, including Einstein’s Dreams, a New York Times and international bestseller, and The Diagnosis, a finalist for the 2000 National Book Award. He is also the author of several collections of essays and numerous books on science. His work has appeared in the Atlantic, GrantaThe New Yorker, the New York Review of Books, and Nature, among many other publications. A theoretical physicist as well as a writer, he has served on the faculties of Harvard and MIT, where he was the first person to receive a dual faculty appointment in science and the humanities. He lives in the Boston area.

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