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From Arkansas to France and back

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Not many people are able to make dreams come true. Little Rock writer James Morgan is still at it. An aspiring artist, Morgan had always wanted to experience life in France and his personal artistic hero was Henri Matisse. Morgan stitched it all together. He put his Hillcrest houseup for sale, the house about which he’d written “If These Walls Had Ears: The Biography of a House.” He and his wife Beth moved to France, walking in Matisse’s footsteps from Brittany to Nice and Morocco and other points in between. He sketched in some of the same places Matisse had painted. He ate French food and drank French wine. He made French friends. It was a two-year journey, chronicled as it happened on the Morgans’ website, chasingmatisse.com, a helpful guide to the French visitor with tips on hotels, restaurants, tourist attractions and more. And now the journey is artfully described in Morgan’s just published “Chasing Matisse: A Year in France Living My Dream.” It comes out just in time for Morgan to be a hometown literary hero at the second edition of the Arkansas Literary Festival. Morgan should be familiar to local readers as a frequent contributor to the Arkansas Times as well as the writer with whom Virginia Kelley, the president’s mother, collaborated on her autobiography “Leading With My Heart.” Morgan, who is still living in Paris (he was on magazine assignment in Sweden when last we talked), will talk about his experiences and his book at noon Saturday, April 16, in the Historic Arkansas Museum’s auditorium. He’ll also be on a panel offering writing advice from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, April 17, at the Historic Arkansas Museum. Yes, you can buy his book and have it signed. During the literary festival, authors go to a book-signing tent on the parking lot across from the main library after their public presentations.

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