Archive for the 'Grievances – Amazon' Category

Mark Ethridge Remembers Cartoonist and Writer Doug Marlette

Thursday, July 12th, 2007 by Brian Seidman

The following from Mark Ethridge, author of Grievances:

Doug Marlette, the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist and novelist (The Bridge, Magic Time) died this week in a Mississippi car wreck at age 57. He was one of my best friends for thirty-five years.

Our friendship began in 1972 at The Charlotte Observer where I was a rookie reporter and he was the editorial cartoonist, his first real job.

It was a rare, special time. We were young, rebellious, just coming off Kent State and the anti-war movement.¬† (I was still 29 when I got to be The Observer‘s managing editor — seven years after marching in the streets.)

We were crusaders. It’s why we got into the business. Imagine this:

  • A 16-page special section with no advertising which said North Carolina had a moral obligation to stop being a state where the most valuable cash crop (tobacco) kills people.
  • 10 reporters for eight months on brown lung disease in the textile industry an eight-day series of maybe 32 pages that won a public service Pulitzer.
  • More than 10 years on PTL . . . and endless reporters, lawyer bills and scorn from the public. And another Pulitzer.
  • Two reporters and a photographer assigned to find the source of the Catawba River and follow it to the sea, writing about the people and the land along the way. 32 pages. Special paper. No advertising.
  • Doug was the lightning rod, the lead point on the flying wedge of journalists who so inflamed the publisher and the populace that what the rest of us did¬†looked mild in comparison.

    More recently, Doug taught me about writing novels. There are conventions in novel writing, the way there are conventions in writing for a newspaper or writing a legal brief. If you are a reader, you may experience some of these conventions but when you become a writer you find that they have already been intellectualized and that there is a code. (You just didn’t know it.)

    I learned many of these rules when I gave Doug the first 185 pages of Grievances when he came to visit at the beach. He disappeared into his room and emerged five or six hours later. He suggested we go down to the dock and that I take something to write with. He proceeded to give me a list of 10 things I needed to know about novel-writing and obviously didn’t — things like ‘Never say or reveal anything important about a character when the character is not on stage.’

    I rewrote Grievances as a result

    About every six months thereafter I would get a call from Doug. “Do you still have that list?” he would ask. “And would you mind faxing it to me?”

    Doug Marlette’s website, including memorial information, is at

    Grievances Author Follows in Writing Footsteps of his Grandmother

    Thursday, May 3rd, 2007 by Brian Seidman

    More notes from the road from author Mark Ethridge:

    A week from tonight, I’m the featured speaker at the annual meeting of the Queens University Friends of the Library in Charlotte – another of the many speeches I’ve made to literary groups and at universities since NewSouth Books published Grievances almost a year ago.

    This one stands to be a little different.

    On May 8, 1974 – thirty three years prior, almost to the day – my grandmother, Willie Snow Ethridge, addressed the same group.

    As the Friends of the Library reported in a recent newsletter item, “Willie Snow Ethridge came to Charlotte (from a weekend at the Kentucky Derby) to talk at Queens about her 1973 book, Side By Each. A scrapbook in Everett Library documents her visit as speaker . . . Reporters at both The Charlotte Observer and The Charlotte News found her to be engaging as a person and a writer – part of her grandson’s inheritance from her and other well known writers in his family.”

    Being Mark Ethridge III leads people to assume I most closely identify with my newspaper editor father (Raleigh Times, Akron Beacon Journal, Detroit Free Press) or my newspaper publisher grandfather (Louisville Courier-Journal, Newsday) – especially since I’ve been both a newspaper publisher and an editor.

    But the fact is, I’ve always had as much in common with Willie (that was her given name and that’s what her sixteen grandchildren called her) as I do with the journalists for whom I am named. I especially identify with her love of stories and her humor.

    I’ll likely never equal her talent and I’ll certainly never match her output. Willie Snow Ethridge published sixteen books. I’ve published one, although I’m finishing another and plotting a third.

    But the newsletter story carries the headline A First For Annual Meeting.

    If I didn’t feel any legacy pressure before, I certainly do now.