Archive for the 'Enchanted Evening Barbie' Category

Rheta Grimsley Johnson writes “On Faith” in Washington Post

Friday, April 8th, 2011 by Brian Seidman

Enchanted Evening Barbie and the Second Coming by Rheta Grimsley Johnson“The one belief I never revealed in three decades-plus was my disbelief,” writes syndicated newspaper columnist and NewSouth author Rheta Grimsley Johnson in a March 28 guest-post on the Washington Post “On Faith” blog; Johnson would later talk about religion in her memoir Enchanted Evening Barbie and the Second Coming. “I figured that straw for a Bible Belt columnist would be the last. I never said I did believe. But I never said I did not. It was a sin of omission.”

Johnson describes how she had kept her “disbelief” secret for years, for fear of alienating her readers. After the death of her husband Don, however, Johnson said she grew “fearless” enough to make her opinions known.

“The year of my husband’s death, I somehow finished a memoir I’d already begun for NewSouth Books, a Montgomery, Ala., publishing house,” Johnson continues. “Enchanted Evening Barbie and the Second Coming for the first time made clear my position on faith and religion. No bones. No hedges. I finished the manuscript in September, 2009, and waited a little nervously for its release in March of 2010. How would my regular readers, the ones who for so long had indulged my liberal politics and feminist rants, react to this ultimate departure from Southern mores?”

In the year that followed, Johnson describes, she received mixed responses to her revelations in the book; often those she expected to be shocked were not, and those she hadn’t expect to be were. Her fear of speaking about religious issues might have been unfounded, she notes, though she remains unsure if she would have faced editorial pressure not to potentially offend readers.

Read Rheta Grimsley Johnson’s full essay, “My belief system? Disbelief,” at the Washington Post “On Faith” blog. You can also visit Johnson at her official website,

Enchanted Evening Barbie and the Second Coming is available in hardcover and ebook from NewSouth Books,, or you favorite retail or online bookseller.

Mississippi Public Broadcasting gets personal with Rheta Grimsley Johnson: two terrific interviews

Friday, October 15th, 2010 by Lisa Harrison

Enchanted Evening Barbie and the Second Coming by Rheta Grimsley JohnsonIn back-to-back interviews for Karen Brown and Gene Edwards at Mississippi Public Broadcasting, syndicated newspaper columnist Rheta Grimsley Johnson reflects on her life, her work, and her books, including her newest, a memoir called Enchanted Evening Barbie and the Second Coming.

In her interview for Brown on Mississippi Edition, Rheta relates with characteristic candor and humor the story underlying the book’s title: growing up Southern Baptist. She says, “We were all taught about the Second Coming,” noting “it was imminent and could happen tonight or tomorrow, but probably not as late as next week.” But as a young girl she asked God “to delay the end game” until after Christmas, when she was to get a new dress for her Barbie doll.

Barbie, says Rheta, becomes a metaphor in her book for how a generation of women approached life, which brought happy times and sad times but also disappointments, and gives her a jumping off point for examination of her personal faith and work.

Appearing with Louis Bourgeois and W. Ralph Eubanks on MPB’s Writers program, Rheta discussed her career as a newspaper columnist. She told host Gene Edwards that she’d always wanted to be a reporter, beginning when she was in the eighth grade. She was encouraged by English teachers and worked on her school newspaper; the experience convinced her she wanted to be a journalist. Two of the major influences on her writing style were Raymond Chandler and James Caine.

Speaking about her memoir, Rheta added, “I’ve always had to write to make sense of my life.” Writing about her husband’s death for her newspaper column made her “start caring a sentence at a time about things.” Reader response to the three columns she devoted to her husband was positive and encouraged her to “think it was okay to make it part of a memoir” she was already working on. That volume, Enchanted Evening Barbie and the Second Coming, started out as a funny Christmas book and, well, “it became a different book,” Rheta noted.

Enchanted Evening Barbie and the Second Coming is available from NewSouth Books,, or you favorite retail or online bookseller.

Chapter 16 highlights Tennessee authors, talks Barbie with Rheta Grimsley Johnson

Friday, May 7th, 2010 by Andrew

Burgeoning online journal Chapter 16 certainly stays busy highlighting the wealth of Tennessee’s literary offerings. Launched in October 2009 by Humanities Tennessee, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Chapter 16 covers books, authors, and literary events within the state.

Margaret Renkl, book editor of Chapter 16, noted the motivating factors behind the journal’s foundation. “The idea for Chapter 16 arose in response to the continued erosion of books coverage in the mainstream media,” she said. “All over the state, newspapers have been shuttering their book pages, and the folks at Humanities Tennessee came up with the idea of starting a web site that would feature book reviews, author interviews, excerpts from works in progress by writers in the state, and all manner of community literary events.”

Chapter 16 also publishes original poems and essays and will soon launch a database of Tennessee authors, including biographies and links to other sources online. The journal covers a broad range of Tennessee authors, including those who’ve only lived in Tennessee briefly, as well as visiting authors appearing in the state.

In advance of her May 4 event at Davis-Kidd Booksellers in Memphis, former Commercial Appeal columnist Rheta Grimsley Johnson sat down with Chapter 16 to discuss life and love, newspapers and literature, and her newly published memoir Enchanted Evening Barbie and the Second Coming.

Read the full interview at Chapter 16.

Enchanted Evening Barbie is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite local or online retailer.

Rheta Grimsley Johnson memoir reviewed in Columbus Dispatch and others

Friday, April 9th, 2010 by Andrew

Rheta Grimsley Johnson’s new memoir Enchanted Evening Barbie and the Second Coming is receiving high praise from fellow writers and rave reviews from newspapers and magazines from Tupelo, Mississippi to Columbus, Ohio. Newly published from NewSouth, Enchanted Evening Barbie is Johnson’s cathartic and introspective look at her life as a daughter of the South and an award-winning writer in a male-dominated newspaper world.

Leslie Criss of the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal said, “Each essay, written in true Rheta-style, only added to my assurance that I was reading something wise, something witty, something wonderful, something oh-so worthwhile.”

Jake Mabe, reviewer for the Hall/Founain City Shopper-News in Knoxville, Tennessee said, “It’s the loving chapters devoted to the love of [Rheta’s] life that make this book such a keeper. Rheta has long possessed a talent for making her subjects come alive.” He continued, saying, “Reading Rheta is one of life’s true treasures.”

Mike Harden of the Columbus Dispatch also writes fondly of Rheta’s style and skill with words, stating “Possessed of an ear for the laconic remark that defines the moment, Johnson could write anywhere.”

Citing Johnson’s past awards and achievements, Dave Helms of the Mobile Press Register is quick to note how little such accolades mean to Johnson’s loyal fan base. He said, “More importantly to her readers, she can quote long strings of ‘Andy Griffith’ dialogue and Hank Williams’ lyrics.”

Enchanted Evening Barbie is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite local or online retailer.