Mississippi Books and Writers

June 2002

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

The Hermit's Story The Hermit’s Story: Stories

By Rick Bass

Houghton Mifflin (Hardcover, $22.00, ISBN: 061813932X)

Publication date: June 2002


  Rick Bass’s best fiction yet , and the most varied collection he has ever published, The Hermit’s Story introduces both new stories and pieces previously published in some of the country’s finest periodicals.

In the title story, a man and a woman travel across an eerily frozen lake—under the ice. “The Distance” casts a skeptical eye on Thomas Jefferson through the lens of a Montana man’s visit to Monticello. “Eating” begins with an owl being sucked into a canoe and ends with a man eating a town out of house and home. Other stories include “The Cave,” “The Fireman,” “Swans,” “The Prisoners,” “Presidents’ Day,” “Real Town,” and “Two Deer.” Two of these stories have appeared in The Best American Short Stories, but every selection in this book is remarkable.

New Orleans Sketches

By William Faulkner, edited by Carvel Collins

University Press of Mississippi (Paperback, $18.00, ISBN: 1578064716)

Reprint edition, originally published in book form in 1958

Publication date: June 2002

Description from the publisher:

Faulkner’s early fictional forays that foreshadow a Nobel laureate in the making.

In 1925 William Faulkner began his professional writing career in earnest while living in the French Quarter of New Orleans. He had published a volume of poetry (The Marble Faun), had written a few book reviews, and had contributed sketches to the University of Mississippi student newspaper. He had served a stint in the Royal Canadian Air Corps and while working in a New Haven bookstore had become acquainted with the wife of the writer Sherwood Anderson.

In his first six months in New Orleans, where the Andersons were living, Faulkner made his initial foray into serious fiction writing. Here in one volume are the pieces he wrote while in the French Quarter. These were published locally in the Times-Picayune and in the Double Dealer, a “little magazine” based in New Orleans.

New Orleans Sketches broadcasts seeds that would take root in later works. In their themes and motifs these sketches and stories foreshadow the intense personal vision and style that would characterize Faulkner’s mature fiction. As his sketches take on parallels with Christian liturgy and as they portray such characters as an idiot boy similar to Benjy Compson, they reveal evidence of his early literary sophistication.

In praise of New Orleans Sketches Alfred Kazin wrote in the New York Times Book Review that “the interesting thing for us now, who can see in this book the outline of the writer Faulkner was to become, is that before he had published his first novel he had already determined certain main themes in his work.”

In his trail-blazing introduction Carvel Collins, often called “Faulkner’s best-informed critic,” illuminates the period when the sketches were written as the time that Faulkner was making the transition from poet to novelist.

“For the reader of Faulkner,” Paul Engle wrote in the Chicago Tribune, “the book is indispensable. Its brilliant introduction … is full both of helpful information … and of fine insights.” “We gain something more than a glimpse of the mind of a young genius asserting his power against a partially indifferent environment,” states the Book Exchange (London). “The long introduction … must rank as a major literary contribution to our knowledge of an outstanding writer: perhaps the greatest of our times.”

Carvel Collins (1912-1990), one of the foremost authorities on Faulkner’s life and works, served on the faculties of Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Swarthmore College, and the University of Notre Dame, where he was the first to teach a course devoted to Faulkner’s writing.

Of Long Memory: Mississippi and the Murder of Medgar Evers Of Long Memory: Mississippi and the Murder of Medgar Evers

By Adam Nossiter

Da Capo Press (Paperback, $17.50, ISBN: 0306811626)

First published: 1994

Publication date: June 2002

Description from Publishers Weekly:

  In this resonant and absorbing narrative, Nossiter uses the 1963 murder of NAACP staffer Medgar Evers and the recent re-prosecution of assassin Byron de la Beckwith as a prism through which to examine the significant evolution in hearts, minds and government in Mississippi. Nossiter, who formerly covered Mississippi for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution , tells his story mainly in deft profiles: Evers, the resolute field secretary shunned by many of the black bourgeoisie in Jackson; Beckwith, the racist supported by the white establishment, whose first two trials led to hung juries; prosecutor Bobby DeLaughter, who slowly developed a consciousness of the past. By the late 1980s, with new political leaders in place and a collective introspection in process, the state exhumed the case: information about jury tampering became known, formerly reluctant witnesses testified and Beckwith was convicted. The need for this thoughtful analysis—a more comprehensive look at the Evers case than Reed Massengill’s recent Beckwith biography, Portrait of a Racist—is shown by a jury pool, black and white, almost universally ignorant of Evers. —Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Tales from Margaritaville: Fictional Facts and Factional Fictions

By Jimmy Buffett

Harvest Books (Paperback, $14.00, ISBN: 0156026988)

Publication date: June 2002

Description from the publisher:

Having grown up on Jimmy Buffett’s songs in the ’70s, especially “Margaritaville” and “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” I read with interest his first book Tales from Margaritaville. Not surprisingly, it had the same wonderful style and spirit of his songs—funny, original, free-spirited. It seemed to me that Jimmy Buffett was truly living—and chronicling—the American Dream. But what I found most interesting was a story I heard during one of his first bookstore signings (in Virginia or Georgia, I think). The day of the book-signing, hundreds and hundreds of people showed up and the line snaked around several blocks. But what was truly interesting was the mix of people—teenagers, aging hippies, moms and dads, blue-haired old ladies—all proud to call themselves “Parrotheads.” Buffett’s new book A Pirate Looks at Fifty is currently a bestseller proving that Jimmy Buffett’s appeal is as timeless as he is.

Maureen O'Neal

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