Mississippi Books and Writers

March 2002

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

Laugh Track

By David Galef

University Press of Mississippi (Hardcover, $25.00, ISBN: 1578064228)

Publication date: March 2002

Description from Publishers Weekly:

Fifteen far-ranging and idiosyncratic glimpses of life most often from a dark, quixotic psychosocial perspective make up this collection, selected from more than 60 published stories by Galef (Turning Japanese; Flesh). The topics are curious and far-ranging: the last day of an over-the-hill mob enforcer (“Butch”), the struggles of a blocked gag writer who plays canned laughter at his therapy sessions (“Laugh Track”), the interaction between a chimerical landlord and a novelist who has come to Mexico to work on a memoir (“The Landlord”) and the angst of an American lawyer who tries to forget his gay lover by running off to Greece (“All Cretans”).

The opening vignette (“You”) imagines the day of the author’s conception, and a third-grade teacher whose love-life is on the skids acts out her sexual frustration on a precocious male student in “Triptych.” The tersely noted impressions of a juror in “Jury Duty” and a college instructor’s wry account of his eccentric writing workshop in “Metafiction” up the humor quotient, while arguably the darkest and most affecting of the stories is “Dear, Dirty Paris,” which recounts the experience of a high school student on her maiden trip to the City of Light. Her parents entrust her to the care of two rather questionable men who had provided them with a similar introduction to the city in their youth.

Though well crafted, this set is likely a bit obscure for mainstream readers, but fans of literary fiction will be won over by Galef’s ironic and enigmatic sensibility. —Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

On William Hollingsworth, Jr.

By Eudora Welty

University Press of Mississippi (Hardcover, $20.00, ISBN: 1578064872)

Publication date: March 2002

Description from the publisher:

Welty’s graceful, appreciative essay about one of the South’s notable painters.

William Hollingsworth, Jr., and Eudora Welty were Mississippi contemporaries who began their careers in the arts almost simultaneously. Just as the Great Depression struck the nation, both were finishing their educations in big cities—Welty at Columbia University in New York, Hollingsworth at the school of the Art Institute of Chicago.

This keepsake book uniting these two acclaimed Mississippi artists and their work gives the pleasure of encountering Welty as an art critic and of meeting an astonishingly talented painter she admired.

In 1958, after seeing a large posthumous exhibition of his paintings at the Jackson Municipal Art Gallery, Welty wrote this critical appreciation. It appeared in the Clarion-Ledger, the local newspaper, and has never been reprinted until now.

Accompanying Welty’s essay are full-color plates of eleven Hollingsworth paintings she mentions or to which she makes reference. An afterword puts the work of Hollingsworth and Welty in the context of time, place, and circumstance. A chronology shows how Hollingsworth was a rising star whose life was cut short.

As young Mississippians who had been schooled away from home, they returned to Jackson during hard times but were afforded a serendipitous gift—a sense of place that became a resource for their art. Although both longed to connect with the mainstream of the art world in the North, Hollingsworth and Welty discovered the significance of regional roots.

A great American writer, Welty had a career that lasted for nearly seventy years. Hollingsworth’s lasted for only one decade. He died in 1944 at the age of thirty-four. She died at the age of ninety-two in 2001. Two of his watercolors that she bought in the 1930s still hang in her home.

Mississippi Delta Women in PrismMississippi Delta Women in Prism

Poems by Claire T. Feild

NewSouth Books (Paperback, $15.95, ISBN: 1588380386)

Publication date: March 2002


In her debut collection, Claire T. Feild offers narrative poems about women living in the Mississippi Delta in the 1950s and the early 1960s. Many of the poems speak of proprieties revered by these women during a time of placidity that eventually sparked radical change. A darker meaning pervades these poems, for black-white relationships are explored by a writer whose formative years were spent collecting images from the kudzu-covered hills along Highway 49, the sultry cotton fields of the Yazoo Delta, and locales such as Henick’s Auto Supply and Goose Egg Park.


By Will D. Campbell

Baylor University Press (Paperback, $14.95, ISBN: 0918954843)

First published in 1992

Publication date: March 2002

Description from the publisher:

Hailed as Will Campbell’s most literary work, Providence chronicles the more than 170-year history of a square mile of plantation land in Holmes County, Mississippi.

Shifting between history and autobiography, Campbell illustrates the quest for justice among the Choctaws, African Americans, and whites on the parcel of land designated Section 13. From the forcible removal of native Choctaws, to slavery and sharecropping on the Providence Plantation, to an interracial cooperative farm in the 1930s-’50s, and finally to the present-day ownership by the Department of the Interior, Providence, according to Campbell, “has seen a lot. In a way its saga is the story of the nation.”

Look Homeward: A Life of Thomas Wolfe

By David Herbert Donald

Harvard University Press (Paperback, $19.95, ISBN: 0674008693)

First published in 1989

Publication date: March 2002

Description from the publisher:

Thomas Wolfe, one of the giants of twentieth-century American fiction, is also one of the most misunderstood of our major novelists. A man massive in his size, his passions, and his gifts, Wolfe has long been considered something of an unconscious genius, whose undisciplined flow of prose was shaped into novels by his editor, the celebrated Maxwell Perkins.

In this definitive and compelling biography, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David Herbert Donald dismantles that myth and demonstrates that Wolfe was a boldly aware experimental artist who, like James Joyce, William Faulkner, and John Dos Passos, deliberately pushed at the boundaries of the modern novel. Donald takes a new measure of this complex, tormented man as he reveals Wolfe’s difficult childhood, when he was buffeted between an alcoholic father and a resentful mother; his “magical” years at the University of North Carolina, where his writing talent first flourished; his rise to literary fame after repeated rejection; and the full story of Wolfe’s passionate affair with Aline Bernstein, including their intimate letters.

“Supersedes all previous Wolfe biographies in illuminating detail, in empathy for its complex unhappy subject, in sympathy for what he wanted to do, and what he did, as a writer, and in its own literary distinction … A work of great subtlety and sophistication.” —Washington Post Book World

Faulkner at West Point

Edited by Robert Paul Ashley and Joseph L. Fant

University Press of Mississippi (Hardcover, $22.00, ISBN: 1578064457)

First published in 1964

Publication date: March 2002

Description from the publisher:

A new edition of a classic and a commemoration of William Faulkner’s visit to West Point forty years ago.

The Nobel Prize-winning author William Faulkner (1897-1962) visited the United States Military Academy at West Point less than three months before his death in 1962. On the night of April 19 he read aloud episodes from his forthcoming novel The Reivers before an audience of cadets, faculty, and staff. After the reading he answered questions about his own work and about the art of writing. Later he met the press publicly and responded graciously to probing questions. The following morning he met with cadets in two advanced literature courses and discussed a wide range of subjects—his philosophy of life, his writings, his views on America.

All these sessions were tape recorded and photographed. Two members of the English department at West Point edited the transcriptions of the tapes for this volume. It is reprinted in this new edition in commemoration of Faulkner’s sojourn to the academy forty years ago and of the academy’s bicentennial.

Faulkner at West Point, first published in 1964, includes a new preface, an introduction, and reflections on the historic visit written by two graduates who were present as cadets during the Nobel writer’s appearance.

All these materials, along with the original text, testify to the import of Faulkner’s visit and, at times, to the curmudgeonly Faulkner’s obliging good will in answering questions about himself and the writing process. This memorable book documents not only the collegial spirit of fellowship that Faulkner enjoyed while at the academy but also the great writer’s thoughts and opinions expressed shortly before his death.

William Faulkner, a Mississippian, was one of the most admired and renowned writers of the twentieth century. Among his works are The Sound and the Fury, Light in August, Absalom, Absalom!, Sanctuary, and As I Lay Dying. Joseph L. Fant and Robert Ashley, now retired, were professors of English at the U.S. Military Academy.

New Guinea Run New Guinea Run

By Karen Knight Winter

PublishAmerica (Paperback, $16.95, ISBN: 1591291356)

Reading level: Ages 9-12

Publication date: March 2002


Sixteen-year-old Rob finds himself in the rainforest of New Guinea on a Youth Corp project after being expelled from boarding school. Shortly after arriving in New Guinea, Rob and his friends, Mike and Teke (a native New Guinean), discover the Youth Corps project is actually a front for an international gold smuggling ring. The leaders of the Youth Corps project are shipping gold from the gold mines in the New Guinea highlands and shipping it to the United States and Japan. Rob and his friends realize that their very lives are dependent on the project leaders for food, medicine, and communications.

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