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News & Notes: Books

Tom T. Hall and Tom Tierney made news this week

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Hall of Education
Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro has established a $1.25 million creative-writing chair in honor of country singer and writer Tom T. Hall, whose second novel, Spring Hill, Tennessee, has just been published. He is a guest lecturer at the university.

Cutting Up
”I love paper dolls,” Tom Tierney says, and he has certainly cut out a niche for himself. In the past 20 years, he has published close to 80 paper-doll books, including ones of the Reagans (”They loved theirs”), Marilyn Monroe, the Kennedys, St. Nicholas, and the British royal family. Tierney, a stickler for detail, usually works from old photos, although he’ll seek out other sources if he needs to. For example, when drawing his Jackie Kennedy dolls, he called her former designer, Oleg Cassini, who sent sketches and swatches for some of her White House clothes. Dover Publications has just released Tierney’s latest creation, George Bush and His Family, featuring the President, a noticeably slim Barbara, and the Bush grandchildren. (When asked about the trimness of the Barbara Bush doll, Tierney responded, ”We had just gotten too used to Nancy Reagan and her size 2s. Barbara Bush isn’t fat, just average!”) Tierney estimates that Dover sells about a million of his paper-doll books a year, mostly to an older audience. ”The real hard-core collectors buy everything I do — one to cut and one to keep,” he says. His subjects have usually been charmed by the books. He says Garbo asked for his autograph, and the Pope, although momentarily taken aback when a visitor whipped out her John Paul II paper-doll book, recovered at once and asked her where he could buy a copy.