Author’s husband to speak at book signing

Published 1:23 am Friday, September 7, 2018

Mr. Owita’s Guide to Gardening named best book just after author’s death; husband carries on

Carol Wall’s debut memoir, Mister Owita’s Guide to Gardening, was published to critical acclaim in 2014.

But Wall was dying of cancer and too sick to participate in promoting the book. Before her death, she told her youngest son, “You take care of our book.”

She died nine months after the book’s publication, and one week before it was named a Top 10 Book of the Year by both USA Today and AARP.

After her death, Carol’s husband, Dick Wall, embarked on a quest to do everything in his power to help Carol’s book reach its audience, and it is he who will talk about the book and sign copies at a reception at the Lower Alabama Arts Coalition’s The Gallery on Tuesday.

The Walls’ son Chad Wall, 37, and daughter-in-law, Ashley, have spoken to book clubs and done media interviews in their mother’s stead. Daughter Jennie Gelfand, 34, manages her mother’s website and social media accounts from her home in York, Pennsylvania. Youngest son Phil Wall, 31, a filmmaker in Philadelphia, made his mother’s promotional videos, and is working on a documentary about the book’s success. The film will make its full debut at an international film festival, but a portion will be shown in Andalusia next week.

In her narrative, Carol Wall is a woman both resentful of her disease and constantly worried about her health before meeting Giles Owita who becomes her gardener and her friend. Wall was diagnosed with breast cancer before she met Mr. Owita and is diagnosed again during their friendship. Over the months which turn into years, Mr. Owita’s calm resolve quenches Carol’s panic. He teaches her not to let illness define her, and she receives a new concept of freedom. Ironically, unknown to Carol until much later, Mr. Owita, a Kenyan immigrant, is battling his own frightening disease.

Mr. Owita’s Guide to Gardening is a poignant story of two friends affirming life within the eventuality of death.

The LAAC will host a reception for Wall at The Gallery, located on 209 East Three Notch Street, from 5:30 until 7 p.m. on Tuesday, September 11.