Mississippi Books and Writers

May 2002

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

Frontier House Frontier House

By Simon Shaw, Linda Peavy and Ursula Smith

Pocket Books (Hardcover, $29.00, ISBN: 0743442709)

Publication date: May 2002

Description from the publisher:

Go west with PBS in this behind-the-scenes look at the television series that sent modern-day Americans “back in time” to the harsh frontier of 1880s Montana.

America’s period of westward expansion has long captured the imagination of history buffs and adventurous spirits; the era seems to embody the very daring enterprise that made America what it is today. As a result, frontier life has often been romanticized in television and film.

But all of that changed with PBS’s Frontier House. Bringing the trials and triumphs of nineteenth-century homesteaders to life in a way we might never have imagined, Frontier House re-creates life in the wilderness for three households of spirited twenty-first-century Americans and documents their six-month experience for television.

Roughing it on their allotted plots of land while all of America watches, these brave souls relinquish grocery stores, microwaves, and plumbing in favor of raising chickens, churning butter, and outhouses. Gone are all the modern amenities they’re accustomed to. In their place: just the will to do whatever it takes to survive.

Covering the inception of the show, the historical basis for the lifestyle re-created, the selection of the participants, the logistical challenges of production, and the impact of this experiment on the participants—along with profiles of actual nineteenth-century homesteaders—Frontier House is a first-rate companion to one of the most innovative and fascinating reality shows of our time.

Yonder Stands Your Orphan Yonder Stands Your Orphan

By Barry Hannah

Grove Press (Paperback, $13.00, ISBN: 0802138934)

Publication date: May 2002

Description from Publishers Weekly:

Hallelujah! After a 10-year absence, Hannah (Airships; High Lonesome) is back with a vengeance with a Southern gothic novel full of every kind of excess: violence, sex, religiosity, creepiness and humor. Here we have Tennessee Williams, Flannery O’Connor, Harry Crews, Peter Dexter and Clyde Edgerton all squished together, baked in hush-puppy batter, dipped in honey and sprinkled with Jim Beam.

Set in a lake community in the vicinity of Vicksburg, Miss., the story revolves around a fellow named Man Mortimer, a thief, pimp and murderer and those are his good qualities who physically resembles the late country singer Conway Twitty. On his trail are Byron Egan, a somewhat reformed biker-turned-preacher and prophet, and Max Raymond, a former doctor who plays saxophone in a bar band and has an attractive Cuban wife who sings, sometimes for the band, sometimes nude in her back yard. Meanwhile, the young town sheriff, distrusted since he hails from the North, manages to shock even the most degenerate denizens of the area with his affair with a luscious 72-year-old widow.

The plot is kaleidoscopic, with flashes and slashes of wonder, humor and the macabre expertly mixed. Hannah tosses off linguistic gems on almost every page: “… sometimes he felt he was a whole torn country, afire in all quadrants.” Describing a car, “It smelled like very lonely oil men.”

Reading today’s fiction is too often like eating stale bread. With Hannah (finalist for the American Book Award and the National Book Award), just imagine your most mouthwatering meal, take a double helping and you’ve come close to the pleasure of reading this book. —Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Best of the Oxford American Best of the Oxford American

Edited by Marc Smirnoff and Rick Bragg

Hill Street Press (Paperback, $16.95, ISBN: 1588180816)

Publication date: May 2002


A comprehensive anthology of The Oxford American’s most memorable pieces published during the first decade of the magazine’s existence, these articles prove provocative, opinionated, and irreverent. The Oxford American has served as an incubator and archive for the most promising and most established voices in contemporary Southern writing. It offers up an extraordinary range of perspectives on a multitude of subjects, while always avoiding the hackneyed notion of the South as the exclusive province of the gothic or the sentimental dominion of moonlight and magnolias. Collected here are the magazine’s stellar fiction and poetry offered alongside its best commentary, profiles, photography, comics, and reporting on politics, history, religions, art, books, film, and humor.

Preserving the Pascagoula Preserving the Pascagoula

By Donald G. Schueler

University Press of Mississippi (Paperback, $18.00, ISBN: 157806466X)

First published in 1980

Publication date: May 2002

Description from the publisher:

A classic book about the environmental triumph that saved a southeast Mississippi wetland.

Preserving the Pascagoula re-creates one of the more exciting sagas in the history of wilderness preservation—the ultimately successful fight to protect the vast, magnificent, little-known Pascagoula Swamp in southeastern Mississippi.

The Pascagoula, in terms of discharge volume, remains the largest undammed, unaltered river system in the continental United States. The story of how it was saved, with several heroes, no great villains, and a happy ending, will remind the environmental community that now and then the “good guys” do win.

More than the suspenseful retelling of this achievement, Preserving the Pascagoula details the unusual strategy whereby the fight was won. It serves as a blueprint of how a state government created from scratch one of the finest natural area programs in America today.

This is the story of the most effective nonprofit land acquisition group in the nation, The Nature Conservancy, and its innovative Natural Heritage Program that calls upon states to inventory and protect threatened ecosystems. It is also the story of Mississippi’s response to the Heritage idea, a response that has served as a model for other states.

Finally, this is the account of a handful of dedicated people, ranging in their commitments from counterculture activism to staid conservatism. The unlikely alliance of these disparate groups suggests how much even a few individuals can accomplish against great odds, if they have the will and the nerve.

Preserving the Pascagoula could have been just one more account of a dramatic eleventh-hour confrontation between environmentalists and developers. More than that, it suggests many ways in which people who want to save our wilderness heritage can initiate action, instead of merely reacting to threats to the environment.

This new edition of Preserving the Pascagoula is published by the Mississippi Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks. Support and assistance for this effort has come from The Nature Conservancy of Mississippi, Audubon Mississippi, the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, and the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science.

Donald G. Schueler is the author of A Handmade Wilderness, Incident at Eagle Ranch: Predators as Prey in the American West, The Temple of the Jaguar: Travels in the Yucatan, and Adventuring along the Gulf of Mexico.

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