Literary Savannah was among the first in a series of literary travel anthologies published by Hill Street Press when the company was founded in the late 1990s. To include the city of Savannah, Georgia, in such a series would have made good sense at pretty much any time but particularly during the last decade because of the spotlight cast on it by a developing film industry within the city and by the immense popularity of author John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
The genius of this exceptional travel literary anthology is the eclectic mixture of names it includes. Some––like founding father George Washington and abolitionist Olaudah Equiano––many readers would not expect to find because of their globe-spanning historical stature. Others––like Girl Scout founder Juliette Gordon Lowe and songwriter Johnny Mercer––were natives of the city and therefore are less surprising. In total, the voices of some 37 writers, plus that of editor Patrick Allen, comprise the volume. Among those voices are such modern chroniclers of Savannah’s ongoing story as: Pulitzer Prize-winner James Alan McPherson; journalist Tom Coffey; playwright and educator Ja A. Jahannes; author and writing instructor Rosemary Danielle; and the author of “Savannah Spectres,” Margaret Wayt DeBolt. Much of the book’s richness is also due to the variety of literary genres sampled within it.
From passing glimpses of the city as jotted down in a notebook entry by novelist Henry James to famous declarations as made by General William T. Sherman in a letter to his commander in chief. Memoirs, fiction, essays, poetry, “true” accounts of hauntings, and songs all blend to create a finely balanced and nuanced portrait of one of the most uniquely beautiful cities in the United States.