Mississippi Books and Writers

May 1998

Note: Prices listed below reflect the publisher's suggested list price. They are subject to change without notice.

The Blackgod The Blackgod

A Novel by J. Gregory Keyes

Ballantine (Mass Market Paperback, $6.99, ISBN: 0345418808)

Publication date: May 1998

Description from Kirkus Reviews (15 February 1997):

Sequel to The Waterborn (1996), Keyes’s fantasy about water-gods, magic, and destiny. The Changeling is the god of the River and the city Nhol with its royal family. Though most of the time slumbering, he wakes occasionally to arrange for the breeding of a human whose body he can inhabit. That body is presently occupied also by young Princess Hezhi of Nhol, but she’s fled to the horse-warrior Mang, along with her protector, Perkar, and his magic sword, Harka. Hezhi’s only hope of long-term survival is to kill the River, but to do this she must reach his source beneath the remote mountain She’leng; offering assistance is the powerful but untrustworthy Blackgod. The River, however, is determined to recapture Hezhi and send forth Ghe, an assassin once slain by Perkar, now reanimated and given magic powers to absorb ghosts and gods. To complicate matters, other parties have their own agendas. Eventually, She’leng is the scene of a mighty but baffling struggle in which various entities die, though some come back to life, and everything is resolved—to the author’s satisfaction if not the reader’s. An often strikingly imaginative but unedifyingly overcomplicated yarn that could’ve used a vigorous pruning and a stiff dose of logic; still, Waterborn fans will be jubilant. —Copyright © 1997 Kirkus Associates, LP.

The Correspondence of Shelby Foote and Walker Percy The Correspondence of Shelby Foote and Walker Percy

Letters by Shelby Foote and Walker Percy, Edited by Jay Tolson

W.W. Norton (Paperback, $14.00, ISBN: 0393317684)

Publication date: May 1998


In the late 1940s, Percy and Foote, friends since their teenage years in Greenville, Mississippi, began a correspondence that would last until Percy’s death in 1990. For this volume, Jay Tolson has selected, edited, and annotated the letters of these two remarkable writers to shed light on their relationship and their literary careers.

Geronimo Rex Geronimo Rex

A Novel by Barry Hannah

Grove Press (Paperback, $12.00, ISBN: 0802135692)

Publication date: May 1998


Barry Hannah’s first novel, Geronimo Rex, was awarded the William Faulkner Prize and nominated for the National Book Award. The novel depicts the life story of its main character, Harriman Monroe, from age 8 in Dream of Pines, Louisiana, to age 23, when he is newly married and enrolled in the graduate English program at the University of Arkansas. Inspired by the great Geronimo’s brash, outrageous rampage through the Old West, Harry takes on the American South of the 1950s and ’60s. Alongside the sex, love, lies, and lunacies of adolescent awakening, Harry also faces a world plagued by violent reality and giddy—like Harry himself—with a sense of unlimited possibility.

Endangered Species Endangered Species

A Novel by Nevada Barr

Avon (Paperback, $6.99, ISBN: 0380725835)

Publication date: May 1998

Description from Booklist (February 15, 1997):

Barr’s tough, likable park ranger heroine, Anna Pigeon, is back in another high-spirited outdoors adventure/mystery. Sent to isolated Cumberland Island National Seashore off the coast of Georgia on summer fire patrol, Anna is bored despite the natural beauty of the area. Then the seashore’s local ranger and his pilot are killed when their small plane crashes on the island. When Anna and her crew investigate, they find the plane was sabotaged. Anna develops a list of possible suspects, including some of her own crew. When the killer is finally revealed, even the usually unflappable Anna is shocked by the desperate cold-bloodedness of the crime. Anna’s no-nonsense view of life, unorthodox career, strong opinions, secret vulnerability, and soft heart make her unique among today’s current crop of female sleuths. Readers like Anna, and they like Barr’s engaging mysteries, which are as entertaining and thought provoking as they are fun to read. —Copyright © 1997 American Library Assocation.

The Moviegoer The Moviegoer

A Novel by Walker Percy

Vintage (Paperback, $12.00, ISBN: 0375701966)

Publication date: May 1998


A winner of the National Book Award, this tale of a small-time stockbroker in search of something more—a “certified reality” that eludes him everywhere except at the movies—established Percy as an insightful and grimly humorous storyteller. This elegantly written account of a young man’s search for signs of purpose in the universe is one of the great existential texts of the postwar era and is really funny besides. Binx Bolling, inveterate cinemaphile, contemplative rake and man of the periphery, tries hedonism and tries doing the right thing, but ultimately finds redemption (or at least the prospect of it) by taking a leap of faith and quite literally embracing what only seems irrational.

Have No Fear: The Charles Evers Story Have No Fear: The Charles Evers Story

Nonfiction by Charles Evers

John Wiley & Sons (Paperback, $12.95, ISBN: 0471296945)

Publication date: May 1998

Description from Booklist (1 September 1996)

The night in 1963 when Medgar Evers was shot was also the night John Kennedy gave perhaps his most powerful televised speech on civil rights. Evers’ murder made him a civil rights hero only slightly less well remembered than Martin and Malcolm, though it took more than 30 years and three trials to convict shooter Byron de la Beckwith. Older brother Charles shared Medgar’s commitment and activism but was also, as this memoir reveals, a businessman and sometime hustler interested in making lots of money; Medgar’s idealism often would have left his family short of cash without Charles’ help. Charles Evers’ entrepreneurial activities, legal and illegal, may explain his support for GOP solutions to many social problems. In addition, relationships he developed, as an activist and as the first African American mayor of Fayette, Mississippi, with presidents and other politicians may also have pushed him in this direction. Now past 70, Evers delivers his strong opinions as a talk radio host and, in Have No Fear, tells the story of his life, which is also inevitably a portrait of his martyred brother, of the Mississippi civil rights movement, and of the nation itself. —Copyright © 1996 American Library Association.

Newton's Cannon Newton’s Cannon

A Novel by J. Gregory Keyes

The Age of Unreason, Book One

Del Rey (Paperback, $14.00, ISBN: 0345406052)

Publication date: May 1998

Description from Kirkus Reviews:

First of a new fantasy series: In this alternate 1715, both science and alchemy work; young Ben Franklin, apprenticed to his printer brother James in Boston, begins to study the various alchemical devices—lights, weapons, faxes, and so on—that Isaac Newton has invented. Ben accidentally intercepts a communication on the “aether-schreiber”’ and helps solve the mathematical problem posed therein by an unknown scientist.

Soon, however, Ben’s being haunted by a weird, insubstantial demon that demands he cease his researches. Britain and France, meanwhile, fight a war using alchemical weapons. In France, Louis XIV, having taken an immortality serum and survived an assassination attempt, has been taken over by a demon, or malakus, like Ben’s. Nicolas Fatio de Duillier, a vengeful ex-student of Newton’s, uses Ben’s formula to alchemically attract a comet from space towards London. Scientific genius Adrienne de Montchevreuil, forced to become the king’s mistress, and helped by a secret society of women, labors to discover what Fatio has done.

Ben, threatened by his malakus, flees to London to warn Newton; the latter, preoccupied with unmasking a traitor, can’t stop or divert the comet. London is annihilated after a hasty evacuation, Ben becomes Newton’s apprentice, and Louis’s malakus moves on to beguile Czar Peter of Russia.

Keyes’s yarn (The Blackgod, 1997, etc.) is colorful, intriguing, and well handled, if somewhat difficult to swallow: Its hard to see how alchemy and science could both work. —Copyright 1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Women with Men: Three Stories Women with Men: Three Stories

By Richard Ford

Vintage (Paperback, $12.00, ISBN: 0679776680)

Publication date: May 1998

Description from Kirkus Reviews (15 May 1997):

A reader meeting Ford via these three pieces might wonder why laurels of the Pulitzer and PEN/Faulkner kind have befallen this (The Sportswriter, 1986; Independence Day, 1995) particular writer. He here offers two grinding tales of distasteful Americans in Paris and one clone-of-Hemingway story about a boyhood in Montana. In “The Womanizer,” Martin Austin, married but childless, becomes interested in a Frenchwoman named Josephine when he’s in Paris on business. The difficulty is—for Austin and for the reader—that he seems not to know what he wants either with her or from her, with the result that Ford offers page after page of clunky vacuity as if simply to put something between start and the end of the story (“He wasn’t looking for a better life. He wasn’t looking for anything. He loved his wife, and he hoped to present to Josephine Belliard a different human perspective from the ones she might be used to”). More revelatory in this unrelenting non-tale is what Ford says of Austin later—that “very little pleased him much at all.” The main character in “Occidentals” is, if anything, even more dreary than Austin. Ex-academic Charley Matthews has written a novel about his divorce and is now quite joylessly in Paris—with mistress Helen—to meet his French publisher and translator. Trouble is, as he quickly discovers, both are out of town for a few days, so he’ll have to wait. Helen—a lively ex-dancer who’s suffering from cancer—tries to cheer him up; he grows only more hatefully dour, though, until she takes things—perhaps believably to some—into her own hands. “Jealousy” makes for a breath of fresh air with its Montana landscape and Hemingway-esque economies—as a boy, accompanied by his attractive young aunt, witnesses a saloon killing on a snowy night before catching a train to Seattle. Scraps and leavings, seemingly, caught between the labored and the imitated. —Copyright © 1997, Kirkus Associates, LP.

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