Mississippi Books and Writers

February 1999

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

The Testament The Testament

A Novel by John Grisham

Doubleday (Hardcover, $27.95, ISBN: 0385493800)

Publication date: February 1999

Description from the publisher:

Troy Phelan is a self-made billionaire, one of the richest men in the United States. He is also eccentric, reclusive, confined to a wheelchair, and looking for a way to die. His heirs, to no one’s surprise—especially Troy’s—are circling like vultures.

Nate O’Riley is a high-octane Washington litigator who’s lived too hard, too fast, for too long. His second marriage in a shambles, he is emerging from his fourth stay in rehab armed with little more than his fragile sobriety, good intentions, and resilient sense of humor. Returning to the real world is always difficult, but this time it’s going to be murder.

Rachel Lane is a young woman who chose to give her life to God, who walked away from the modern world with all its strivings and trappings and encumbrances, and went to live and work with a primitive tribe of Indians in the deepest jungles of Brazil.

In a story that mixes legal suspense with a remarkable adventure, their lives are forever altered by the startling secret of The Testament.

Walking on Water: Black America on the Eve of the Twenty-First Century Walking on Water: Black America on the Eve of the Twenty-First Century

By Randall Kenan

Knopf (Hardcover, $30.00, ISBN: 0679408274; Paperback, ISBN: 067973788X)

Publication date: February 1999

Description from Kirkus Reviews (1 February 1999):

A personal meditation in the guise of a search for the essential nature of the black community in America. Kenan, an award-winning writer (and author of the novel A Visitation of Spirits, 1992, etc.) travels across the country looking for what it means to be black. He interviews an eclectic assortment of people, interspersing the conversations with his own reflections, with discussions of relevant writings drawn primarily from the black intelligentsia, local history, and stream-of-consciousness observations about everything he confronts along the way. In the unlikely surroundings of Vermont and Maine, Kenan’s assumptions about black identity are challenged by Jack, an obviously white man who has grown up in and continues to live as a part of black culture. California would seem to be a more likely place to find the heart of the black community, and there, not surprisingly, Kenan confronts the movie industry. While his own reflections focus on the distortion of black reality represented on the screen, his conversation with Charles Burnett suggests more that distortion is a Hollywood reality across the board. This is a long book, and there are scores of such encounters with very interesting people. In the end, however, the interviews are sidebars; the presentation is first-person throughout, and as Kenan ultimately notes, what he presents is not a compilation of the thoughts of others, but rather “my personal history of the last five years.” What saves the volume from pretentiousness is that for the most part his personal musings merit reading and reflection. While his conclusion is predictable, it is also profound: there is no one element that defines the black American soul. Taking a close and serious look at black Americans unveil their essential individuality, Kenan ends up appreciating the diversity of black America rather than celebrating distinguishing characteristics. Definitely worth reading, even though its not always clear whether this is powerful introspection or self-indulgence. —Copyright © 1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Little Cliff and the Porch People Little Cliff and the Porch People

Juvenile Literature by Clifton L. Taulbert, illustrated by E. B. Lewis

Dial Books for Young Readers (Hardcover, $15.99, ISBN: 0803721749)

Publication date: February 1999


In a series of acclaimed memoirs, Clifton Taulbert has told of the nurturing community that raised him within the segregated Mississippi Delta of the 1950’s. Now the memorable characters from Eight Habits of the Heart, When We Were Colored, and Taulbert’s other popular works appear in his first picture book. Little Cliff’s great-grandmother needs a pound of butter to make her candied sweet potatoes. She sends Cliff off to get the butter and tells him to get home “lickety-split.” But all the front porches Cliff must pass are full today—full of neighbors who want to help him with his errand! This heartwarming story about intergenerational friendship is beautifully illustrated by artist E. B. Lewis’s light-filled paintings.

Embryo Embryo

A Novel by Charles Wilson

St. Martin’s (Paperback, $6.99, ISBN: 0312968248)

Publication date: February 1999


In Mexico the charred remains of a medical clinic hold a clue to an experiment that can change the world. In Los Angeles a famous model, desperate to have a baby of her own, sends a detective to track down a legend and a doctor missing for twenty years. In Biloxi, Mississippi a little boy plays with matches and smiles. In a secret location the radical procedure begins, leading to a scientific miracle or the beginning of a nightmare.

What does the next step in hi-tech reproduction hold for humankind? In a tale as real as tomorrow’s headlines, a rich, successful woman takes a desperate gamble to have a child. A young lawyer discovers a fatal flaw in an unethical experiment. And a new life begins—a life that could signal a revolution in modern medicine or the end of us all.

Familiar Valentine Familiar Valentine

By Caroline Burnes (Carolyn Haines)

Harlequin (Paperback, ISBN: 0373225024)

Publication date: February 1999

Little Cliff and the Porch PeopleLittle Cliff and the Porch People

By Clifton L. Taulbert, illustrations by E. B. Lewis

Dial Books for Young Readers (Hardcover, $16.99, ISBN: 0803721749)

Publication date: February 1999


Sent to buy special butter for Mama Pearl’s candied sweet potatoes and told to get back lickety-split, Little Cliff is delayed by all his neighbors when they want to contribute their own ingredients.

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