Mississippi Books and Writers

April 1999

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

Eudora Welty: A Tribute

Edited by Pearl A McHaney; contributions by Barry Hannah and Willie Morris

Hill Street Press (Hardcover, $17.95, ISBN: 1892514168)

Publication date: April 1999

Blind Descent Blind Descent

A Novel by Nevada Barr

Avon (Paperback, $6.99, ISBN: 0380728265)

Publication date: April 1999

Description from Kirkus Reviews (15 January 1998):

When Mesa Verde National Park dispatcher Frieda Dierkz, on an avocational expedition to explore and survey the Lechuguilla cave in New Mexico’s Carlsbad Caverns, is trapped 800 feet beneath the earth’s surface by a head injury and a shattered leg, the person she asks authorities above to send after her is her friend Anna Pigeon. Following a week’s worth of deep breaths, Anna, together with Carlsbad cave specialist Oscar Iverson and Underground Resource Coordinator Holden Tillman, undertakes a nine-hour journey she compares to "an expedition into outer space" toward Frieda and the five other members of her crew—only to hear from Frieda that her accident was no accident at all. Before the rescuers can return with Frieda to the surface, another disastrous "accident" heightens the mystery. Then the grueling tour de force of the novel’s subterranean first half is matched by violence aboveground as well, and by unwelcome revelations suggesting that several of Frieda’s companions—a former lover, his jealous wife, a veteran caver whose sister was killed on Frieda’s watch—may have had good reason to kill her. With all the irresistible force of nightmare, Anna’s pulled back on a return visit to Lechuguilla, where she’ll find much more than she bargained for. Barr’s superbly unerring eye for natural setting and human conflict has made Anna’s five earlier adventures (Endangered Species, 1997, etc.) as distinctively memorable as the National Parks themselves. This installment is the most suspenseful of all, even though claustrophobes are well-advised to stock up on Prozac before turning the first page. —Copyright © 1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Enemy Within Enemy Within

A Novel by Phillip Thompson

Salvo Press (Paperback, $11, ISBN: 096645202X)

Publication date: April 1999


After a successful career as a Marine Corps officer, Wade Stuart, an ATF special agent, finds himself working undercover in his home territory, the Mississippi Delta, infiltrating a militia unit with lofty goals. When Stuart uncovers a plot to assassinate the governor of Mississippi and take over the state as part of a people’s revolution, Washington plans to send in the 2nd Marine Division to attack the militia. Stuart sees a bloodbath coming, begs for more time to quash the plan, but the president sees this as a good opportunity to set an example. Isolated and unsure of the decision out of Washington, Stuart must race to shut down the militia before the military arrives. Enemy Within rushes forward at breakneck speed, and only one man can stop these domestic terrorists Wade Stuart!

Clifford's Blues Clifford’s Blues

A Novel by John Alfred Williams

Consortium Book Sales & Dist. (Paperback, $14.95, ISBN: 1566890802)

Publication date: April 15, 1999

Description from Kirkus Reviews:

A first novel (sic) by journalist Williams (If I Stop Ill Die: The Comedy and Tragedy of Richard Pryor, 1991), portraying the travails of a black musician imprisoned in Dachau. Prison camps have hardly been places, conventionally, to catch up with ones diary. Here, though, the solitude, boredom, and seemingly endless stretches of they time serve to make our central character quite introspective indeed, even though this person is the gregarious and feckless as Clifford Pepperidge. A gay pianist from New Orleans, Cliff made the scene in Harlem in the 1920s, playing alongside the likes of Ellington, Ma Rainey, and Miss Bessie Smith. When a Russian impresario decides to take a jazz band on tour through Europe, Cliff jumps on board and eventually winds up in Berlin, where he becomes one of the stars of the cabaret years of Weimar. Arrested during one of the Gestapos periodic roundups of gays, Cliff is taken (in spite of his U.S. citizenship) into Protective Custody and sent to Dachau. Upon arrival, hes recognized by Dieter Lange, a gay SS officer with a secret passion for jazz who used to frequent Cliffs nightclubs. Dieter makes Cliff his calfactor (houseboy) and gets him special treatment in exchange for sex and music (all the other Nazis apparently love jazz as much as Dieter, and Cliff helps Dieter win favor with the brass by playing at parties for them). And since Dieters young wife Anna is (not surprisingly) far from satisfied by her husband, it soon becomes part of Cliffs duties to take care of her as well. How much degradation is enough for a man? Cliff has no illusions: Good men who are strong don't last here. But if you want to make it, you can put up with just about anything and Cliff’s diary shows how he does just that. A worthwhile variation on a grim and lamentably familiar story. The tone veers toward the disconcertingly light, but, even so, things remain a long way from Hogan’s Heroes. —Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Newton's Cannon Newton’s Cannon

By J. Gregory Keyes

The Age of Unreason, Book 1

Del Rey (Paperback, $6.99, ISBN: 0345433785)

Publication date: April 1999

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.

A Calculus of Angels A Calculus of Angels

By J. Gregory Keyes

The Age of Unreason, Book 2

Del Rey (Paperback, $14.00, ISBN: 0345406079)

Publication date: April 1999


1722: A second Dark Age looms. An asteroid has devastated the Earth, called down by dire creatures who plot against the world of men. The brilliant—some say mad—Isaac Newton has taken refuge in ancient Prague. There, with his young apprentice Ben Franklin, he plumbs the secrets of the aetheric beings who have so nearly destroyed humanity.

But their safety is tenuous. Peter the Great marches his unstoppable forces across Europe. And half a world away, Cotton Mather and Blackbeard the pirate assemble a party of colonial luminaries to cross the Atlantic and discover what has befallen the Old World. With them sails Red Shoes, a Choctaw shaman whose mysterious connections to the invisible world warn him that they are all moving toward a confrontation as violent as it is decisive….

Sherman's Other War Sherman’s Other War: The General and the Civil War Press

By John F. Marszalek

Revised edition

Kent State University Press (Paperback, $18.00, ISBN: 0873386191)

Publication date: April 1999

Description from the publisher:

Marszalek traces the roots of Sherman’s hostility toward the press and details his attempts to muzzle reporters during the Civil War, culminating in Sherman’s exclusion of all reporters from his famous March to the Sea.

Despite the passage of over a century, the question of press rights in wartime situations is very much today what it was during the Civil War. Marszalek finds a recurring movement toward repression of the press, with Sherman’s attitudes and practices only one of the most obvious examples. He also finds that press rights during wartime have often been governed by reactions to specific circumstances rather than treated as a constitutional issue.

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