Thursday, September 10, 2009

Festival Focus: Jack Riggs Featured Author at Amelia Island Book Festival

A series of reviews of books to be featured at the Amelia Island Book Festival – 2010. Reviewers represent a broad spectrum of community readers and writers. Author Jack Riggs will be a featured author at the Festival, Feb. 11-14, 2010.

Reviewed by Anne Entriken

Jack Riggs’ debut novel of two struggling young boys coming of age in a small mill town in North Carolina is cleverly woven like the finest of threads among world events in the pivotal year of 1968. That year was one that changed our culture forever. Since Riggs grew up during that time of political assassinations, civil rights, and the Viet Nam war, it was the perfect backdrop for his first effort.

It is the tale of twelve-year-old Raybert Williams and his best friend Palmer Conroy who cling to each other in the closest of friendships, as blood brothers, while living in their parents’ real world existence on the edge of poverty, mental illness and complete dysfunction.

The boys dream and plan a permanent escape to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in a 1965 Pontiac Catalina convertible belonging to Palmer’s deceased father, and all the while, Palmer’s short legs barely even reach the pedals. Their heroes are GI Joe, The Lone Ranger, and especially Evel Knievel when they witness the famous jump over 20 buses that he successfully made and some of us remember well.

Through real, raw emotion and growing momentum, Riggs spins a tale filled with young sensibilities, redemption, grace, salvation, and the absolute assuredness that anything is possible.

Riggs, who teaches at Georgia Perimeter College in Atlanta and who was named Georgia Author of the Year – Fiction 2009 for his second novel, Fireman’s Wife, developed an interest in writing detailed character development and began by writing short stories for literary publications. It became apparent those stories could be part of a much larger work. Parts of those original stories are brilliantly used to enrich the novel itself. In the case of When The Finch Rises, Riggs brought the boys to life and allowed them to live their story as only he could tell it.

“Refreshingly different…Clear-eyed and fair…Riggs pulls everything together with honesty and grace, the fate of each character seeming both unexpected and inevitable.”
---The Charlotte Observer

“Riggs conjures up the mysteries of a mill town summer, vividly depicting the lights and shadows of ordinary events and horrors…deeply satisfying portrait of a troubled family.”
---The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Readers will be taken with narrator Raybert’s vivid and poignant recollection of and reflection on his childhood, and appreciative of the choices Riggs made in bringing it to life.”
---Richmond Times Dispatch

The reviewer, Anne Entriken, is active in island book clubs, Micah's Place Auxiliary and is an avid reader as well as writer. A long-time Amelia Island resident, Entriken grew up Virginia where she attended high school and college. She worked for the Smithsonian Institution, US Office of Education and Department of Agriculture and as a corporate wife has lived all over the country. She and her husband Sam have two children and three grandchildren.

For more inforamtion about the Amelia Island Book Festival:
or contact Executive Director - Dickie Anderson at

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