'Poet of Tolstoy Park' picked for Gwinnett Reads

Alabama author Sonny Brewer will come to Gwinnett next week, but he may soon be on his way to Hollywood. A movie version of Brewer's first novel "The Poet of Tolstoy Park" is in the works.

Until the cameras start rolling, though, Brewer will concentrate on traveling around the country to talk about his writing.

"The Poet of Tolstoy Park" was chosen for this year's Gwinnett Reads. The county-wide reading program, sponsored by the Gwinnett County Public Library, promotes a different book each year.

Brewer will talk about his work at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Gwinnett History Museum in Lawrenceville.

"I'm honored to be asked to come," Brewer said. "There have been some really good writers that have been chosen for Gwinnett Reads."

Past Gwinnett Reads authors include Rick Bragg, Clyde Edgerton and Connie Mae Fowler.

In addition to Brewer's appearance, this year's Gwinnett Reads schedule includes discussion groups on both the novel and related topics.

For "The Poet of Tolstoy Park," seminar topics include living wills and home organization. The novel, which is based on a true story, focuses on Henry Stuart, a 67-year-old man with a terminal illness. His doctor expects him to live less than a year. Henry, a poet and philosopher, decides to leave his home and two sons in Idaho and moves to Fairhope, Ala. He lives for nearly 20 more years in Alabama.

"It's a quiet and contemplative book, a spiritual journey with Henry Stuart facing his mortality as we all will someday," Brewer said.

The author lives in Fairhope. His second novel, "The Sound of Thunder" (Ballantine, $23.95) was published in August. Still, Brewer travels often to talk about "The Poet of Tolstoy Park." He's met a lot of readers, both women and men, who are fans of the novel.

"I'm pleased that people like the book and get something out of it," Brewer said.

Brewer sold the movie rights to the story to Little Big House Productions. A script for "The Poet of Tolstoy Park" has been written by Tom Epperson, who is Billy Bob Thornton's writing partner. Director Jeremy Kagan ("The Journey of Natty Gann") is attached to the project.

"He believes that 'Poet of Tolstoy Park' will be a classic in its own kind of way," Brewer said.

While Brewer is in the Atlanta area, he will meet with Kagan and other members of the production team for the movie. Brewer will remain involved throughout the filmmaking process.

"They actually gave me a partner's interest, a small percentage partner's interest, in the movie to keep me up close and personal," he said.

About the Book

Set in Fairhope, Ala., "The Poet of Tolstoy Park" by Sonny Brewer (Ballantine, $13.95) is based the true story of Henry Stuart, who was diagnosed with tuberculosis at age 67. Expected to live less than a year, Henry moved to Fairhope from his home in Idaho in 1925. In Fairhope, he bought a 10-acre plot of land, named it Tolstoy Park and built a small, round, domed house there. Henry, a philosopher and poet inspired by writers like Leo Tolstoy and Rainer Maria Rilke, lived longer than his doctor thought he would. He died at age 86.

If you Go

•What: Sonny Brewer discusses "The Poet of Tolstoy Park"

•When: 7 p.m. Saturday. The evening will begin with light refreshments and live music. Brewer will speak at 7:30 p.m.

•Where: The Female Seminary Building at the Gwinnett History Museum, 455 S. Perry St. in Lawrenceville

•Cost: Tickets are $10.

•Info: Call 770-978-5154 or visit www.gwinnettreads.org.

Other Gwinnett Reads Events

•A Living Wills seminar, presented by the Gwinnett Legal Aid Society, will be held at 7 p.m. Monday at the Five Forks library branch, 2780 Five Forks Trickum Road in Lawrencevillle. The seminar is free.

•A "The Poet of Tolstoy Park" book chat will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Barnes & Noble at The Avenue Webb Gin, 1350 Scenic Highway in Lawrenceville. The chat is free.

•"Simplify, Simplify, Simplify: Tips from a Home Organization Expert" seminar will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Collins Hill library branch, 455 Camp Perrin Road in Lawrenceville. The seminar is free.