Mississippi Books and Writers

May 2000

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

The $66 Summer The $66 Summer

Juvenile Fiction by John Armistead

Milkweed Editions (Hardcover, $15.95, ISBN: 1571316264; Paperback, $6.95, ISBN: 1571316256)

Publication date: May 2000


It’s the summer of 1955, and George’s grandmother has hired him to work at her home in southern Alabama so he can earn money for a motorcycle. During the summer, 12-year-old George, who is white, reunites with two black friends, who work with George as a team to unravel a mystery underlined by racism and tragedy. The comfortably paced plot pulls readers in with plenty of intriguing characters, both despicable and poignant—among them, a disfigured old woman, a vicious attack-dog trainer, and a bewitching lunatic—who take on significant roles in the solid plot. Armistead is in expert control of both story and characters, and he creates emotional impact without sensationalizing or sentimentalizing the deeply sad, affecting events that have befallen the people in George’s small town. —Roger Leslie. Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

The Year of Jubilo: A Novel of the Civil War The Year of Jubilo: A Novel of the Civil War

Fiction By Howard Bahr

Henry Holt (Hardcover; $25.00, ISBN: 0805059725)

Publication date: May 2000

Description from Kirkus Reviews:

A brilliantly woven Civil War story about the “jubilant” year (1865) following the supposed cessation of hostilities, from the author of the highly praised (and rather similar) debut novel The Black Flower (1997). The latter unfortunately all but drowned in the wake of the spectacular success enjoyed by Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain. This time around, Bahr ought to nab the hosannas and prizes, for he has produced a stunningly imagined and lyrically written chronicle of the return home (to war-ravaged Cumberland, Mississippi) of Gawain Harper, a former schoolteacher (and an Arthurian seeker) who had reluctantly enlisted as an infantryman in the Confederate Army, in order to earn permission to marry his sweetheart, widowed Morgan Rhea. Morgan’s father, devout secessionist Judge Nathaniel Rhea, had demanded that all Southerners do their duty. Having done so, Gawain returns to find his own family decimated, the Rheas dispossessed and powerless, and to learn that the Judge has set him another task: to kill “King Solomon” Gault, a rabid white supremacist (“the gentleman farms without niggers”) and self-anointed leader of the vigilante rangers who had murdered Morgan’s sister and her husband, a Union sympathizer. But this is only prelude to a thrillingly articulated tragic romance that tells several convoluted stories, artfully juxtaposed, and creates a remarkably vivid cast, including Gawain’s fellow survivor, Harry Stribling, self-proclaimed “philosopher” and ironical observer of the South’s stubborn vision of its own “chivalry”; imperious, passionate Morgan and Gawain’s flinty Aunt Vassartwo of the strongest female characters in the whole range of historical fiction; Union Army officer Michael Burduck, haunted and driven by his memories of slavery’s horrors; hideously deformed, obsessed slave- catcher Molochi Fish; and the aforementioned Gault, an avenging demon whose thirst for slaughter precipitates a harrowing climax. The shadow of Faulkner looms over an intricate webwork of festering secrets, conflicting passions, and ancestral guilt. No matter. The Year of Jubilo is a triumphant giant step forward for Bahr. —Copyright © 2000 Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Hannibal Hannibal

Fiction By Thomas Harris

Dell (Paperback; $7.99, ISBN: 0440224675)

Publication date: May 2000


You remember Hannibal Lecter: gentleman, genius, cannibal. Seven years have passed since Dr. Lecter escaped from custody. And for seven years he’s been at large, free to savor the scents, the essences, of an unguarded world. But intruders have entered Dr. Lecter’s world, piercing his new identity, sensing the evil that surrounds him. For the multimillionaire Hannibal left maimed, for a corrupt Italian policeman, and for FBI agent Clarice Starling, who once stood before Lecter and who has never been the same, the final hunt for Hannibal Lecter has begun. All of them, in their separate ways, want to find Dr. Lecter. And all three will get their wish. But only one will live long enough to savor the reward.

Empire of Unreason Empire of Unreason

By J. Gregory Keyes

The Age of Unreason, Book 3

Del Rey (Paperback, $14.00, ISBN: 0345406095)

Publication date: May 2000

Description from Booklist:

In Keyes’ alternate-universe fantasy, The Age of Unreason, of which this is the third but not necessarily last book, Sir Isaac Newton discovered the rules of alchemy instead of the laws of nature, thereby releasing a flood of dark magic. Now, Indian and European armies are locked in a deadly struggle in North America. In Europe, intrigues abound, and palace revolutions seem to happen every Thursday, not all of them well enough developed by Keyes to enable readers to tell them apart. Evil angels hover over human folly, and behind everything lurk the perverse and powerful demons, the Malekin.

Keyes still is master of the details that make much of this universe believable, and the amount of action definitely makes the book exciting. But his gifts aren’t deployed to also make this book intelligible to those who haven’t read its predecessors, Newton’s Cannon (1998) and A Calculus of Angels (1999). On the other hand, they shouldn’t feel put upon to go back to the beginning. They won’t regret doing so. —Roland Green. Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved.

Moments with Eugene Moments with Eugene: A Collection of Memories

Edited by Rebecca Barrett and Carolyn Haines

Kalioka Press (Hardcover, $34.95, ISBN: 0966395417)

Publication date: May 2000

Description from the publisher:

For those of you who did not have the pleasure of knowing Eugene Walter, a brief synopsis of Eugene’s résumé is in order. Eugene Walter was a novelist, poet, essayist, humorist, artist, stage designer, lyricist, actor, master of the culinary arts, botanist, philosopher, sociologist, radio personality, Mobile, Alabama native, resident of Rome and Paris, and most importantly a friend and inspiration to fellow artists and writers. Inspiration, imagination, and encouragement were Eugene’s greatest gifts. Admiration was his greatest reward. Sadly, Eugene left us in March, 1998 at the age of seventy-six.

But Eugene Walter will never be forgotten. Editors Rebecca Barrett and Carolyn Haines have seen to that. For two years, Rebecca and Carolyn painstakingly solicited, collected, and massaged an unusual menagerie of stories written by Eugene’s friends, acquaintances, and colleagues. The result is a 310-page hardcover volume of photographs, squiggles, and mostly humorous, mostly true tales about Mobile, Alabama’s anointed renaissance man. A colorful character Mr. Walter was, that’s for sure. The extent of that color has now been brought out in Rebecca and Carolyn’s delightful book.

Perspectives on Richard Ford Perspectives on Richard Ford

Edited by Huey Guagliardino, with essays by William Chernecky, Edward Dupuy, Jeffrey J. Folks, Robert N. Funk, Fred Hobson, W. Kenneth Holditch, Priscilla Leder, Elinor Ann Walker, and the editor

University Press of Mississippi (Paperback, $18.00, ISBN: 1578062349)

Publication date: May 2000

Description from the publisher:

A comprehensive appreciation of the fiction written by this Pulitzer Prize author

This is the first book-length examination of the fiction written by Richard Ford, who gained critical acclaim for The Sportswriter, the story of suburbanite Frank Bascombe’s struggle to survive loneliness and great loss. That novel, published in 1986, struck a chord with readers and reviewers alike, and Ford, a little-known writer who had for a time considered giving up the writing of fiction, was suddenly hailed in Newsweek as “one of the best writers of his generation.”

The Sportswriter, along with its 1995 sequel Independence Day, which became the first novel to win both the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award, made Ford’s Frank Bascombe as much a part of the American literary landscape as John Updike’s Rabbit Angstrom.

With three other novels, a well-received volume of short stories, and a trilogy of novellas to his credit, Ford is now firmly established as a major figure among writers of the post-World War II generation.

Perspectives on Richard Ford is the first collection of essays to study the body of Ford’s fiction. The nine essays demonstrate that Ford, like few other writers of his time, powerfully depicts what it feels like to live in the secular late-twentieth-century world, a dangerous and uncertain place where human relationships are impoverished and where human existence is often characterized by emptiness, solipsism, and, above all, by a sense of alienation. The contributors tend to view Ford’s narratives of alienation in a broad cultural context. His works dramatize the breakdown of the institutions of marriage, family, and community. His protagonists often typify the rootlessness and the nameless longing pervasive in a highly mobile, present-oriented society in which individuals, having lost a sense of the past, relentlessly pursue their own elusive identities in the here and now.

The collection, which concludes with a compelling conversation between Ford and the editor, will prove to be an essential companion to the work of one our most intriguing contemporary writers.

Huey Guagliardo is a professor of English at Louisiana State University at Eunice.

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