Mississippi Books and Writers

October 2000

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

The Law of Averages: New and Selected Stories The Law of Averages: New and Selected Stories

Stories by Frederick Barthelme

CounterPoint Press (Hardcover, $20.00, ISBN: 1582431159)

Publication date: October 2000


Two decades of stories from one of the premier writers of American fiction.

Twenty years ago Frederick Barthelme began publishing stories that turned readers’ expectations on their heads. In The New Yorker, Esquire, GQ, and elsewhere he published story after story that confounded the prevailing literary assumptions, treating our very ordinary lives with a new kind of careful and loving attention and imagination. He wrote intimate, funny, odd, detailed, laugh-out-loud stories about relationships that almost happen and ones that almost don’t, about the ways we look at each other when we mean things we cannot bring ourselves to say.

Before there were slackers, or kids in parking lots, or stories that took the mundane seriously, there were these prescient stories by Frederick Barthelme. He took a post-ironic stance before the post-ironic had a name. He took fiction where few were then willing to go, took as his subject small romances, private fears, suburban estrangement, office angst, cultural isolation, apparently insignificant humiliations, and the growing information surplus (CNN is a sociological novel, he once remarked). He wrote-and continues to write-with a laser-surgery precision that stuns and delights both readers and critics. If he arrived at the new-literature party a little earlier than the other guests, he has not left early, and is thus well represented in The Law of Averages, with old and new stories side by side, ready to give up their abundant pleasures.

Where the Dreams Cross Where the Dreams Cross

By Ellen Douglas

Louisiana State University Press (Paperback, $15.95, ISBN: 080712639X)

Publication date: October 2000 (Reprint Edition)


In a review in the Delta Democrat Times, fellow Mississippi writer Walker Percy wrote, “Ellen Douglas attacks with unladylike power and gusto, with a style at once cheerful and sardonic, with a kind of black-hearted good humor, and with an inventiveness which puts some outlandish folk up to some wondrous doings…. She has ventured beyond the strictures of the Southern Novel [and] she wins handily and in the stretch even brilliantly.”

Mauvila Mauvila

By Jay Higginbotham

Factor Press (Hardcover, ISBN: 1887650318)

Publication date: October 2000



Buried Bones Buried Bones

A novel by Carolyn Haines

Bantam (Paperback, $5.99, ISBN: 0553581724)

Publication date: October 2000


Private investigation isn’t on the list of a southern belle’s most desirable accomplishments—but it’s saved Sarah Booth Delaney’s Delta homestead. Now all she has to cope with is its bossy antebellum ghost who is determined to save Sarah—from spinsterhood. Then comes the perfect social occasion: Lawrence Ambrose’s dinner party….

The Petticoat Affair: Manner, Mutiny, and Sex in Andrew Jackson's White House The Petticoat Affair: Manners, Mutiny, and Sex in Andrew Jackson’s White House

By John F. Marszalek

Louisiana State University Press (Paperback, $16.99, ISBN: 0807126349)

Publication date: October 2000

Description from Kirkus Reviews:

From Marszalek (History/Mississippi State Univ.; Sherman, 1992, etc.), a vivid evocation of a dramatic episode that preoccupied and temporarily crippled the Jackson administration. More than 160 years before Paula Jones and Gennifer Flowers, America’s first sex scandal, the Peggy Eaton affair (1829-31), rocked the White House. Newly elected Andrew Jackson was a controversial figure and no stranger to scandal; he’d killed a man in a duel, wedded another man’s wife before her divorce was final, executed two British civilians in an extralegal military action in Florida, and massacred hundreds of Indian women and children in frontier battles. Marszalek shows how Jackson’s frequent encounters with scandal had made him proud, rigid, and quick to take offense. His wife Rachel’s death soon after the 1828 election, thought to have been brought about by the vicious attacks on her character, filled the grief-stricken Jackson with righteous anger, and when Washington gossips snubbed the vivacious young Peggy Eaton, wife of Jackson’s secretary of war, Jackson vigorously sprang to her defense. Peggy, the widow of a navy purser who allegedly consorted with John Eaton while her husband was at sea and married him before the requisite mourning period expired, was thought to have low morals, although Marszalek argues that her real offenses were her low social origins and her unfeminine, “forward” behavior with men. What began as an act of social ostracism ultimately polarized the Jackson cabinet, resulted in a fatal estrangement between the president and vice president (Calhoun’s wife led the ostracism of Peggy), and caused the resignation and reorganization of Jackson’s cabinet, leaving the presidential aspirations of Calhoun a shambles and positioning Martin Van Buren to succeed Jackson.

Marszalek’s absorbing narrative illuminates how much, and how little, Washington and American society have changed: The small-mindedness and sexism of Washington’s matrons, and the punctilious protectiveness of the president, would be inconceivable today, but the vicious nature of political rumormongering and scandal in Washington remains. —Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Escape from Heart Escape from Heart

By Lynette Stark

Harcourt, Brace (School & Library Binding, $17.00, ISBN: 0152023852)

Reading level: Young adult

Publication date: October 2000


Heart Colony, founded as a Mennonite community striving to be close to God and nature, becomes a place of fear, denial, and injustice under the cruel and evil direction of a new leader, Hezekiel Whittenstone. Sarah Ruth Heart wants one simple thing—to compete in the countywide spelling bee—but her uncle Hezekiel refuses to allow it. Sarah Ruth struggles with her desire to attend school and compete in the spelling bee, to be attractive to the boy she secretly likes, and to overstep the boundaries dictated by the repressive Hezekiel. Her secret rebellion brings danger to herself and her family, and Sarah Ruth is forced to make difficult decisions about her future—with consequences that are more far-reaching than she ever could have imagined.

Lynette Stark has taught high school and junior high school for sixteen years. She lives in Mississippi. Escape from Heart is her first novel.

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