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READERS' CHOICE

Here's yet more evidence of the rising power of Web 2.0.

Some time ago, Gather.com, a social networking site, hosted a competition for authors to submit the first chapters of their unpublished novels.

Geoffrey S. Edwards, a textbook editor for a Chicago-based textbook publishing firm, was one of 2,600 participants to send a manuscript. After Gather.com members voted for the top 10 submissions, editors at Simon & Schuster selected two winners. One was a mystery. The other was Edwards' historical novel, Fire Bell in the Night.

The book tells the story of John Sharp, a northern newspaper reporter recently arrived in Charleston to cover the trial of Darcy Nance Calhoun, a white farmer under trial for assisting a runaway slave. As with everything in the South, Sharp learns there's more here than meets the eye. He's soon embroiled in a story of slavery, social class, and violence.

Edwards reads from his book (Touchstone, $15) this weekend at Waldenbooks in the Shops at Charleston Place. The hotel serves as the setting for Edwards' novel. His reading is Sun. Nov. 11 at 2 p.m. For more, go to www.firebellinthenight.com or www.firebell.gather.com. —John Stoehr

A BLACK (TIE) RUSSIAN

Jan Rautio's shelf at home is sagging under the weight of all the awards he's won. A native of Moscow, he is the second performer in the College of Charleston's high-quality International Piano Series.

The first was the incomparable Leon Fleisher, perhaps best known for overcoming a rare neurological disorder that paralyzed his right hand (he performed for years using just his left, but has since, miraculously, regained the use of his right).

Rautio follows, but he's not shrouded in Fleisher's shadow. Remember that sagging shelf? There's the handful given by Royal Academy of Music in London (them's no small potatoes).

His recital at Sottile Theatre on Tues. Nov. 13 at 8 p.m. includes a Chopin polonaise, Mozart's Sonata in B-flat Major and Schumann's Kinderszenen.

For ticketing information, call (843) 953-6575 or visit www.internationalpianoseries.org. —John Stoehr


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