Mississippi Books and Writers

December 2001

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

Deep Sleep Collected Stories

By Ellen Gilchrist

Back Bay Books (Paperback, $16.95, ISBN: 0316299480)

Publication date: December 2001

Description from Booklist:

Gilchrist’s celebrated writing life began with a book of short stories, In the Land of the Dreamy Dreams (1984), and her second collection, Victory over Japan, won the 1985 National Book Award. She has switched back and forth between novels and short stories ever since, and her dulcet yet tensile voice has become an integral part of American literature.

Gilchrist has now selected 34 of her favorite stories from seven collections to create a potent and pleasingly cohesive volume that showcases her deep sense of place and, the most salient feature of her work, her lusty, unpredictable, and unapologetic heroines. Gilchrist’s women have refused to be contained within single stories. No matter how often she finds someone new to write about, and how far away she moves from the settings she knows best, and which she so affectionately yet critically portrays, such as Fayetteville, Arkansas, and New Orleans, her feisty and outspoken heroines track her down and insist on continuing their lives.

Here, readers first meet the fearless and competitive Rhoda Katherine Manning as an ambitious third-grader and follow her through an elegant adulthood of extravagant gestures and determined independence. Nora Jane Whittington, a self-declared anarchist, leaves New Orleans for San Francisco, where she wins the adoration of the heroic Freddy Harwood, learns all about earthquakes, and becomes the mother of twin girls. And then there’s Miss Crystal and her sharp-eyed maid, Traceleen. In each intriguing tale, Gilchrist brilliantly illuminates some quirky aspect of human nature, whether it’s the territorial instinct at work in a snooty tennis club, the need for poetry and music, marital friction, the complexities of race, or the mysteries of love, all the while granting readers the boon of her humor, wisdom, and beautifully crafted prose. —Donna Seaman Copyright American Library Association. All rights reserved

Deep Sleep Deep Sleep

A Novel by Charles Wilson

St. Martin’s Press (Paperback, $6.99, ISBN: 0312977654)

Publication date: December 2001

Description from Publishers Weekly:

Murder, migraines and mambos mix messily in this latest from veteran thriller writer Wilson (Extinct; Direct Descendant). At the South Louisiana Sleep Disorders Institute, a young woman lies strangled while obese accountant Henry Womack, another patient, has disappeared into the bayou. Nearby, the parents of a celebrated local freak named Boudron are found butchered, and Boudron is discovered hiding behind a screen of voodoo amulets.

Enter Mark French, a deputy just back on duty after a three-year hiatus following his botched attempt to rescue three hostages from a crazed gunman in New Orleans. Spooked by offers of help from the blatantly sinister institute head, Shasha Dominique, a secret voodoo priestess, Mark and his colleagues vacillate between fingering the one-armed Boudron and the plainly zombified Womack. But when Womack and Boudron both turn up dead, it’s clear that the bad guys are still on the prowl, even with a surfeit of good guys trying to apprehend them—including Mark’s love interest, forensic psychologist Kelly Dalton. Someone is evidently manipulating the institute’s so-called “lucid dreaming” technique to persuade innocents to carry out crimes through hypnotic suggestion.

To the author’s credit, there are one or two unforeseen twists to the otherwise humdrum plot. By the time its dastardly dynamic is exposed, however, most readers will long since have lost interest. Cut-up paragraphs and touristy descriptions of voodoo practices litter the pages without much pattern, and the prose ranges from wooden to downright leaden. —Copyright © 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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