Mississippi Books and Writers


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

The Briar KingThe Briar King

By Greg Keyes

Del Rey (Hardcover, $24.95, ISBN: 0345440668)

Publication date: January 2003

Description from Publishers Weekly:

The author of the bestselling Age of Unreason tetralogy (The Waterborn, etc.) inaugurates the Kingdoms of Throne and Bone quartet with this epic high fantasy. The inhabitants of this splendid and dauntingly complex parallel world, Everon, are mostly descended from folk magically transported from our world. This is not quite the land of Faerie, although the Briar King resembles the old Celtic horned god Cernunnos, while Keyes brings his expertise as a fencing teacher to the swordplay, here called dessrata. The Empire of Crotheny faces war with its arch-rival, the Hanzish, and magical intrigues aimed at preventing the land from having a born queen (as opposed to a king’s consort). By book’s end, Princess Anne, the daughter of the Crotheny king, is fleeing for her life with Austra, her maid, and Cazio, a young Vitellian nobleman, having earlier experienced the pains of discipline in a convent and the horrors of having her family butchered. With aplomb, the author employs one of the most classic fantasy plots: the heir(ess) with a destiny and a necessarily huge cast of supporters. Keyes mixes cultures, religions, institutions and languages with rare skill. The main theme may emerge with formidable slowness, but patient readers will find the rewards enormously worthwhile. —Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.


By Beth Henley

Dramatists Play Service (Paperback, $5.95, ISBN: 0822218771)

Publication date: January 2003

Description from Dramatists Play Service:

Revelers [is] a powerhouse of poetic dialogue… This lighthearted comedy with undertones of despair is a frolic well worth taking.” —Southern Dutchess News.

THE STORY: The play takes place in a cottage on the shore of Lake Michigan where devotees of Dash Grey, the charismatic artistic director of Chicago’s Red Lantern Theatre, have come to commemorate his death. Jasper Dale (Dash’s ex-lover) is in charge of the elaborate proceedings. In a desperate attempt to save the struggling Red Lantern Theatre, Jasper taints the event by including Kate Spoon, a wealthy, talent-free matron, who insists on being regarded as an artist. As the play proceeds, Caroleena Lark, a psychic orphan, who has sacrificed her life for the theatre discovers that Kate Spoon is going to have her fired. Other complications occur when Eddy Canary, a middle-aged homeless playwright, shows up hoping to resurrect his love affair with Victor Lloyd. Victor, or Vickie, is a beautiful, modestly gifted protégé of the deceased who has become a success in Hollywood. She arrives in a state of nerves having nearly been blown to bits in a high-tech science-fiction adventure film written and directed by the young Hollywood genius Timothy Harold.


By Beth Henley

Dramatists Play Service (Paperback, $5.95, ISBN: 0822218763)

Publication date: January 2003

Description from Dramatists Play Service:

Signature makes a disturbing imprint with its impression of the future … to say we’d better take notice or we’re doomed.” —Poughkeepsie Journal.

THE STORY: Two brothers, Boswell and Maxwell, are living in Los Angeles in the year 2052. Knowing he is seriously ill, Boswell seeks to revive his fame as a once acclaimed art philosopher. In his obsession to leave a legacy, a signature, he pushes away the love of a young woman (named William) who is a dedicated worker on the Splat Out Crew. The younger brother, Maxwell, becomes so distraught when his wife, L-Tip, divorces him on video divorce that he calls up the Euthanasia Hot Line and requests to be “euthed” because of a broken heart. Max is thus transformed into an icon of twenty-first-century romantic love and suddenly discovers the wonders of glamour and the price of fame.

Zig Ziglar's Life LiftersZig Ziglar’s Life Lifters: Moments of Inspiration for Living Life Better

By Zig Ziglar

Broadman and Holman (Hardcover, $17.99, ISBN: 0805426892)

Publication date: January 2003

Description from Publishers Weekly:

Motivational and salesmanship guru Ziglar, author of See You at the Top, draws on parables, inspirational true-life stories, biblical injunctions neurological research and the aphorisms of thinkers from Hegel to Dr. Seuss in this usually commonsensical if none-too-profound self-help tract. Ziglar’s 56 brief chapters of advice cover a wide range of topics, including parenting (spank judiciously), education (consider home-schooling and vouchers), salesmanship (do little things for customers) and weight loss (when all else fails, trust in God.) Mostly, though, he reminds us that happiness lies in moving beyond self-centeredness and attending to the needs of others: “you can have everything in life you want if you will just help other people get what they want.” Ziglar’s is a sober and incremental approach to self-improvement, with the emphasis on inculcating steady habits of thoughtfulness towards others, perseverance and positive thinking; he feels that cultivating the outward forms of good behavior can eventually work profound changes on inner attitudes. Civility is therefore a persistent theme: Ziglar exhorts Tiger Woods to clean up his language, extols a Louisiana law compelling schoolchildren to say “sir” and “ma’am” and opines that “a woman loses some of her femininity when she resorts to vulgar talk.” Ziglar’s genteel nostrums (like a “National Kindness Day”) can seem superficial. But compared to other bland and turgid self-help books, his sermons are well paced and pointed, and make his age-old nuggets of wisdom go down easy. —Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

The King of TortsThe King of Torts

By John Grisham

Doubleday (Hardcover, $27.95, ISBN: 0385508042)

Publication date: February 2003


The office of the public defender is not known as a training ground for bright young litigators. Clay Carter has been there too long and, like most of his colleagues, dreams of a better job in a real firm. When he reluctantly takes the case of a young man charged with a random street killing, he assumes it is just another of the many senseless murders that hit D.C. every week.

As he digs into the background of his client, Clay stumbles on a conspiracy too horrible to believe. He suddenly finds himself in the middle of a complex case against one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, looking at the kind of enormous settlement that would totally change his life—that would make him, almost overnight, the legal profession’s newest king of torts…


By Nevada Barr

Putnam (Hardcover, $24.95, ISBN: 0399149759)

Publication date: February 2003

Description from Publishers Weekly :

When it comes to a vibrant sense of place, Barr has few equals, as deliciously demonstrated in her 11th Anna Pigeon novel (after 2002’s Hunting Season), set in little-known Dry Tortugas National Park, 70 miles off Key West in the Gulf of Mexico. Anna takes up her new post on Garden Key, home to Fort Jefferson, a notorious Union prison during the Civil War, after fleeing a marriage proposal from just-divorced Sheriff Paul Davidson. As she goes about her duties, Anna quickly becomes ensnared in one life-threatening situation after another. Anna’s fans expect no less; all her postings somehow turn dangerous. Indeed, the contrast between the natural beauty of the landscapes and the human evils within them is a recurring theme. But this one has an added twist: a mystery concerning alleged Lincoln assassination conspirator Dr. Samuel Mudd interweaves with current crimes. In a coincidence best left unscrutinized, Anna’s great-great-great-aunt was the wife of the fort’s commanding officer, and her letters, relating a story of intrigue and murder, have surfaced. The two stories are told in alternating chapters, and only Barr’s skill keeps this familiar device fresh. The pitch-perfect 19th-century phrasing in the letters makes it easy to forgive the occasional over-the-top prose in the modern scenes. But this is a quibble. Those who already admire the doughty National Park ranger will rejoice in this double-layered story with its remarkable setting, passionately rendered; new readers have a treat in store.
—Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Hunting SeasonHunting Season

A novel by Nevada Barr

Berkley (Paperback, $6.99, ISBN: 0425188787)

Publication date: February 2003

Description from Booklist:

In the tenth adventure in Barr’s National Park series (each installment is set at a different park), District Ranger Anna Pigeon investigates a murder at an old inn on Mississippi’s Natchez Trace Parkway. After the discovery of the corpse—naked and marked in such a way as to suggest an S & M ritual—interrupts Anna’s brunch with her new romantic interest, local sheriff Paul Davidson, the intrepid ranger finds herself forced to untangle a poaching plot with roots deep in Mississippi history. This latest entry in Barr’s popular series marks a definite return to form after the disappointing Blood Lure. The edgy, fast-paced tale generates plenty of tension, making the most of several nighttime crimes, and Barr does a good job of developing the character of Anna, adding romance to the mix and giving the ranger plenty of opportunity to display her slightly dark, off-center wit. Descriptions of grand National Park vistas, so prominent in the earlier books, are missing this time, but Barr still makes the most of her setting, evoking the special charms of autumn in the South. Series fans will be pleased to see the return of Randy Thigpen, Anna’s nemesis from earlier novels. Barr, the undisputed queen of the eco-mystery, has turned a novel premise into a thriving subgenre. —John Rowen. Copyright American Library Association. All rights reserved.

Operation Pretense: The FBI's Sting on County Corruption in MississippiOperation Pretense: The FBI’s Sting on County Corruption in Mississippi

By James R. Crockett

University Press of Mississippi (Hardcover, $40.00, ISBN: 1578064961)

Publication date: February 2003

Description from the publisher:

A narrative detailing an FBI ploy that exposed the largest public corruption scandal in Mississippi history.

During the 1980s fifty-seven of Mississippi’s 410 county supervisors from twenty-six of the state’s eighty-two counties were charged with corruption. The FBI’s ploy to catch the criminals was code-named Operation Pretense.

Ingenious undercover investigation exposed the supervisors’ wide-scaled subterfuge in purchasing goods and services. Because supervisors themselves controlled and monitored the purchasing system, they could supply sham documentation and spurious invoices. Operation Pretense was devised in response to the complaint of a disgruntled company owner, a Pentecostal preacher who balked at adding a required 10 percent kickback to his bid.

Detailing the intricate story, this book gives an account of the FBI’s stratagem of creating a decoy company that ingratiated itself throughout the supervisors’ fiefdoms and brought about a jolting exposé, sweeping repercussions, and a crusade for reform.

The case was so notable that CBS’s Mike Wallace came to Mississippi to cast the Sixty Minutes spotlight on this astonishing sting and on the humiliated public servants it exposed to public shame.

The conditions that gave rise to such pervasive malfeasance, the major players on both sides, the mortifying indictments, and the push to finish the clean up are all discussed here.

In the wake of Operation Pretense were ruined careers, a spirit of watchdog reform, and an overhauled purchasing system bared to public sunshine. However, this cautioning book reveals a system that remains far from perfect.

This narrative report on the largest public corruption scandal in Mississippi history serves as a reminder of the conditions that allow such crime to flourish.

James R. Crockett is a professor of accountancy at the University of Southern Mississippi. His work has been published in Journal of Accounting Education, Accounting Educator’s Journal, and Journal of Education for Business, among others.

Faulkner in the Twenty-first Century

Edited by Robert W. Hamblin and Ann J. Abadie

University Press of Mississippi (Hardcover, $45.00, ISBN: 1578065135)

Publication date: February 2003

Description from the publisher:

A turn-of-the-century map of where Faulkner studies have traveled and where they are headed.

Where will the study of William Faulkner’s writings take scholars in the new century? What critical roads remain unexplored?

Faulkner in the Twenty-first Century presents the thoughts of ten noted Faulkner scholars who spoke at the twenty-seventh annual Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference at the University of Mississippi. Theresa M. Towner attacks the traditional classification of Faulkner’s works as “major” and “minor” and argues that this causes the neglect of other significant works and characters. Michael Kreyling uses photographs of Faulkner to analyze the interrelationships of Faulkner's texts with the politics and culture of Mississippi.

Barbara Ladd and Deborah Cohn invoke the relevance of Faulkner’s works to “the other South,” postcolonial Latin America. Also approaching Faulkner from a postcolonial perspective, Annette Trefzer looks at his contradictory treatment of Native Americans.

Within the tragic fates of such characters as Quentin Compson, Gail Hightower, and Rosa Coldfield, Leigh Ann Duck finds an inability to cope with painful memories. Patrick O’Donnell examines the use of the future tense and Faulkner’s growing skepticism of history as a linear progression. To postmodern critics who denigrate “The Fire and the Hearth,” Karl F. Zender offers a rebuttal. Walter Benn Michaels contends that in Faulkner’s South, and indeed the United States as a whole, the question of racial identification tends to overpower all other issues. Faulkner’s recurring interest in frontier life and values inspires Robert W. Hamblin’s piece.

Robert W. Hamblin is a professor of English and the director of the Center for Faulkner Studies at Southeast Missouri State University. Ann J. Abadie is associate director at the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi.

Charitable Choices: Religion, Race, and Poverty in the Post-Welfare EraCharitable Choices: Religion, Race, and Poverty in the Post-Welfare Era

By John P. Bartkowski and Helen A. Regis

New York University Press (Hardcover, $60.00, ISBN: 0814799019; Paperback, $19.00, ISBN: 0814799027)

Publication date: February 2003

Description from the publisher:

Congregations and faith-based organizations have become key participants in America’s welfare revolution. Recent legislation has expanded the social welfare role of religious communities, thus revealing a pervasive lack of faith in purely economic responses to poverty.

Charitable Choices is an ethnographic study of faith-based poverty relief in 30 congregations in the rural south. Drawing on in-depth interviews and fieldwork in Mississippi faith communities, it examines how religious conviction and racial dynamics shape congregational benevolence. Mississippi has long had the nation’s highest poverty rate and was the first state to implement a faith-based welfare reform initiative. The book provides a grounded and even-handed treatment of congregational poverty relief rather than abstract theory on faith-based initiatives.

The volume examines how congregations are coping with national developments in social welfare policy and reveals the strategies that religious communities utilize to fight poverty in their local communities. By giving particular attention to the influence of theological convictions and organizational dynamics on religious service provision, it identifies both the prospects and pitfalls likely to result from the expansion of charitable choice.

John P. Bartkowski is Associate Professor of Sociology at Mississippi State University. He is the author of Remaking the Godly Marriage: Gender Negotiation in Evangelical Families. Helen Regis is Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Louisiana State University. Her work on New Orleans jazz funerals and second lines has appeared in American Ethnologist and Cultural Anthropology.

Splintered BonesSplintered Bones

By Carolyn Haines

Dell (Paperback, $5.99, ISBN: 0440237211)

Publication date: February 2003

Description from Publishers Weekly:

Described on the somewhat staid cover as “a mystery from the Mississippi Delta,” Haines’s third Southern cozy (first in hardcover) is heavy on the cornpone, but is saved from the totally ridiculous by a hearty leavening of laughter. Sarah Booth Delaney and her cohorts, Tinkie Richmond and Cece Dee Falcon (formerly Cecil but that’s for another story) band together to save friend and horse breeder Eulalee “Lee” McBride from a first-degree murder rap. Lee has confessed to the murder of her loutish husband, Kemper Fuquar, in order to save her mixed-up 14-year-old daughter, Kip Fuquar, from the charge. The sheriff is hard-put to find a woman any woman on the outlying magnolia-scented estates who didn’t have a motive to crush Kemper’s skull, then sic Avenger, a temperamental show horse, on the rotter. When she’s not busy being a PI, Sarah Booth stays busy playing with her red tick hound, Sweetie Pie; talking to a resident ghost, Jitty, in her antebellum mansion; reluctantly scouring the area for a date to the hunt ball; baby-sitting for a willful Kip; and reading Kinky Friedman books. Sarah Booth keeps up with her friends’ lipstick and nail polish colors, and even goes along with having Sweetie Pie’s hair dyed brown from its graying shade. The author’s long on accent, if short on clues that help elucidate the mystery. But Haines (Them Bones) keeps her sense of humor throughout, holding the reader’s attention and internal laugh track right down to the last snicker. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

The Granta Book of the American Long StoryThe Granta Book of the American Long Story

Edited by Richard Ford

Granta Books (Paperback, $16.95, ISBN: 1862072779)

Publication date: February 2003


In this collection, Pulitzer prize-winning author Richard Ford brings together 11 of the finest examples of American long stories or novellas. Selecting at least one story from each decade since the 1940s, this anthology includes “June Recital” by Eudora Welty; “The Long March” by William Styron; “Goodbye, Columbus” by Philip Roth; “A Long Day in November” by Ernest J. Gaines; “The Old Forest” by Peter Taylor; “The Age of Grief” by Jane Smiley; “I Lock My Door Upon Myself” by Joyce Carol Oates; and “Hey, Have You Got a Cig, the Time, the News, My Face?” by Barry Hannah.

Sons of Mississippi: A Story of Race and LegacySons of Mississippi: A Story of Race and Legacy

By Paul Hendrickson

Knopf (Hardcover, $26.95, ISBN: 0375404619)

Publication date: March 2003

Description from Publishers Weekly:

“Nothing is ever escaped,” is the woeful reminder Hendrickson imparts in this magisterial group biography-cum-social history, a powerful, unsettling, and beautifully told account of Mississippi’s still painful past. Hendrickson, author of the searching Robert McNamara chronicle The Living and the Dead (an NBA finalist), sets out to profile seven Mississippi sheriffs photographed while one of their number postures with a billy club just before the 1962 riots against the integration of the University of Mississippi at Oxford (“Ole Miss”). The picture, shot by freelance photographer Charlie Moore, was published in Life magazine soon after, and it captured Hendrickson’s imagination when he came upon it decades later.

Chapter by chapter, Hendrickson reconstructs the everyday existences of the seven sheriffs, concentrating on the time of the photo, but taking his subjects through to their deaths. None are now living, but Hendrickson interviewed former Natchez sheriff John Ed Cothram in the early ’90s, and the Cothram chapters comprise a paradigmatically subtle and eerie portrait of the intelligence and banality of evil, and how it destroys individuals. The number of telling quotes, interviews with friends and family, primary and secondary sources, allusions to art and history, and gut reactions Hendrickson offers are what really make the book. He begins with a wrenching retelling of the Emmett Till lynching—seven years before James Meredith fought for and finally won admission to Ole Miss, a bloody story Hendrickson also recounts (in addition to a fascinating recent interview with Meredith himself).

The book’s final third tries to get at the legacy of Mississippi’s particular brand of segregation—the whites and blacks Hendrickson interviews throughout articulate it masterfully—by profiling the children of the men in the photo and of Meredith, with sad and inconclusive results. While Hendrickson can be intrusive in telling readers how to interpret his subjects, he repeatedly comes up with electric interview material, and deftly places these men within the defining events of their times, when “a 100-year-old way of life was cracking beneath them.” —Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Shelby Foote: A Writer's LifeShelby Foote: A Writer’s Life

By C. Stuart Chapman

University Press of Mississippi (Hardcover, $30.00, ISBN: 1578063590)

Publication date: March 2003

Description from the publisher:

A biography that plumbs the ambiguous life of the gentlemanly novelist and historian.

For a biographer Shelby Foote is a famously reluctant subject. In writing this biography, however, C. Stuart Chapman gained valuable access through interviews and shared correspondence, an advantage Foote rarely has granted to others.

Born into Mississippi Delta gentry in 1916, Foote has engaged in a lifelong struggle with the realities behind his persona, the classic image of the southern gentleman. His polished civil graces mask a conflict deep within. Foote’s beloved South is a changing region, and even progressive change, of which Foote approves, can be unsettling. In letters and interviews, and in his writings, he often waxes nostalgic as he grapples to recover the grace of an earlier time, particularly the era of the Civil War. Indeed, Chapman reveals that the whole of Foote’s novels and historical narratives serves as a refuge from deeply ambiguous feelings. As Foote has struggled to understand the radical shifts brought to his native land by modernization and the region’s integration into the nation, his personal history has been clouded by ideological conflict.

This biography shows him pining for aristocratic, antebellum culture while rejecting the practices that made possible the injustices of that era. Privately and vehemently, Foote opposed George C. Wallace’s and Ross Barnett’s untenable segregationist stance. Yet publicly during the 1960s and ’70s he skirted the explosive race issue.

Foote is best known for his dazzling and definitive The Civil War: A Narrative. Written from 1954 to 1974, the three-volume opus was published during years when the South exploded with racial and political tensions and was forever changed. This biography recognizes that nowhere are Foote’s personal conflicts, ambivalence, and outright contradictions more on display than in his fiction. Although Love in a Dry Season, Jordan County, and September, September are set in the contemporary South, they reach no firm social resolutions. Instead they entertain, dramatize, and come to grips with the social, gender, and racial barriers of the southern life he experienced.

While showing how Foote’s guarded embrace of the South’s past and present characterizes his identity as a thinker, a historian, and a writer of fiction, Chapman discloses Foote’s reluctance to address burning contemporary issues and his veiled desire to recall more gracious times.

C. Stuart Chapman is a Massachusetts State House aide living in Jamaica Plain. His work has been published in the Clarksdale Press-Register, Memphis Business Journal, the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Jamaica Plain Gazette, Modern Fiction Studies, and other publications.

Robert G. Clark’s Journey to the House: A Black Politician’s Story

By Will D. Campbell

University Press of Mississippi (Hardcover, $22.00, ISBN: 1578065267)

Publication date: March 2003

Description from the publisher:

The story of a black man's unprecedented rise to power and political prominence in the formerly segregationist state of Mississippi

This biographical profile written by one of the South’s most notable authors traces the life of Robert George Clark (b. 1928) from his Jim Crow boyhood in Ebenezer, Mississippi, through his notable career as the first black Mississippian since Reconstruction to be elected to the state house of representatives.

In this compelling book Will D. Campbell fuses Clark’s family history with his political career and tells of Clark’s struggle with segregationists, his powerful influence in the passing of the state's 1982 Education Reform Bill, and the continued influence of his work on Mississippi politics and culture.

Based on interviews, research, and primary sources, Campbell’s book is an evocative, fascinating, and elegantly written portrait of a man who shaped and is shaping the culture of contemporary Mississippi.

In details of Clark’s days as a student at Jackson State University, Campbell’s narrative depicts Clark both as a strong individual and as a symbol of African American civil rights activism. As he follows Clark’s progress as a politician, educator, and civil rights advocate, he showcases a history of race relations and racial politics in Mississippi during the state's most turbulent era. In this steamy cauldron, however, Campbell never loses sight of Clark’s singular life and notable accomplishments. Clark continues today as a sitting member of the Mississippi House of Representatives.

Robert G. Clark’s Journey to the House unites one of Mississippi’s foremost citizens of the twentieth century and one of the state’s most notable literary voices. During the civil rights struggle the lives of Clark and Campbell were in interplay. This striking book, a valuable addition to the ever-growing documentary literature of the civil rights movement, shows that their lives and philosophies continue to converge.

Will D. Campbell, among the most diligent white Southerners campaigning for social justice in the civil rights era, is the author of such prize-winning books as Brother to a Dragonfly, Providence, and The Glad River. He has been profiled in Rolling Stone, Life, Esquire, and The Progressive.

The HitThe Hit

By Jere Hoar

Context Books (Hardcover, $24.95, ISBN: 1893956342)

Publication date: March 2003

Description from Publishers Weekly :

Hoar makes a crackling debut (after the story collection Body Parts) with this Southern noir thriller about a decorated Vietnam vet up to no good in Mississippi. Luke Carr is locked away on the psychiatric ward of a VA hospital in the deep South. The diagnosis is post-traumatic stress disorder. The therapy consists of a series of notebooks in which Luke is supposed to tell his story “using colored pencils—pastels when I am unsure, darker colors for certainties.” Through these notebooks, Luke records his post-Vietnam downfall, as the bookish, sensitive vet becomes a gun for hire.

After returning home from his three tours in Southeast Asia, the solitary, disturbed Luke plots to steal art from Tom Morris, a wealthy businessman and collector. Along the way he encounters Morris’s wife, Kinnerly, the former love of his life. Predictably, they resume the affair they’d ended years ago as students at Ole Miss. Within six weeks, the scheming Kinnerly has Luke convinced that offing her husband is the only decent thing to do. But soon another local rich guy, Jeff Ballard, also offers Luke a handsome payment for a hit on Tom. Luke discovers that Jeff and Kinnerly have recently been lovers and suspects something fishy, but agrees to take the job anyway. The hit goes awry when a local farmer catches Luke red-handed and blackmails him. Soon, Luke has to kill him, too. Seduction, betrayal, revenge and surprises lurk around the corner as the lovers plot their getaway. The plot makes rapid switchback turns all the way to the last page. Readers will be rapt. —Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Built by the Owner's DesignBuilt by the Owner’s Design: The Positive Approach to Building Your Church God’s Way

By Danny Von Kanel

CSS Publishing (Paperback, $14.95, ISBN: 078801952X)

Publication date: March 2003

Review from Midwest Book Review:

Written by Danny Von Kanel (a church growth consultant with 20 years of experience), Built By The Owner’s Design: The Positive Approach To Building Your Church God’s Way is a straightforward instructional guideline to reaching out with the community Christian church in a balanced, sustainable, and positive manner. Charting a solid middle ground between declining attendance and excessive zeal, Built By The Owner’s Design is a profound and meaningful resource to keeping both the needs of man and the will of God in mind with regard to managing the evangelical church community.

Crossed BonesCrossed Bones

By Carolyn Haines

Delacorte Press (Hardcover, $23.95, ISBN: 0385336594)

Publication date: April 2003

Description from Booklist:

Reluctant southern belle and PI Sarah Booth Delaney is hired by Ida Mae Keys to exonerate Scott Hampton, the man who is accused of killing Ida’s husband, blues pianist Ivory Keys. Hampton, a former racist and Ivory’s protege, maintains his innocence, but the murder weapon and some bloodstained cash are found in his possession. Hampton’s offensive attitude and lack of cooperation hinder Sarah Booth, but she perseveres despite the rising racial tension in her rural Mississippi community. Sarah Booth’s life is further complicated by her attraction to Sheriff Coleman Peters, who has just returned to his wife to try to save his marriage. Despite the serious issues addressed in the story, the mood is lightened by the commentary of Sarah’s partner, Tinkie, and the ghost of her great-great-grandmother’s nanny, both of whom believe that Sarah Booth should be wedded and bedded. Sarah Booth is a charming, likable hero, and this fourth installment of her series continues to provide a vivid snapshot of southern life. —Sue O'Brien. Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved.

Some Notes on River CountrySome Notes on River Country

By Eudora Welty

University Press of Mississippi (Hardcover, $25.00, ISBN: 1578065259; Slipcase limited edition, $100, ISBN: 1578065631)

Publication date: April 2003

Description from the publisher:

“A place that ever was lived in is like a fire that never goes out,” Eudora Welty writes in the opening to her 1944 essay “Some Notes on River Country.”

The University Press of Mississippi has matched that essay, long out of print, with thirty-two duotone pictures by Welty and others to create the new book Some Notes on River Country.

For Welty, the spark of inspiration from Mississippi’s river country Natchez, Grand Gulf, Port Gibson, Vicksburg, the ruins of Windsor, and the ghost town of Rodney fueled much of her fiction and shaped her artistic passion to convey a “sense of place.”

In his afterword, editor Hunter Cole writes, “‘Some Notes on River Country’ documents her discovery of this terrain and of ‘place,’ which Welty came to recognize as the orienting spring of her fiction.”

Originally published in Harper’s Bazaar, this piece evokes both the elemental terrain and notables who traversed it via the river and the Natchez Trace—Aaron Burr, the flatboatman Mike Fink, the villainous Harpe brothers, and John James Audubon, as well as assorted fire-and- brimstone preachers, bandits, planters, and Native Americans.

Taking the reader on an imagined journey through river country, Welty combines the genres of travel narrative, character study, and geographical history to give a grand tour of the region. This brilliant portrait of a place is both elegiac and animated as she shows how much has changed, how much can never be recovered, and how much of the old river country remains in its contemporary incarnation.

In this setting Welty discovered a presence and a sense of place that stimulated her artistic vision.

“Whatever she deemed it to be,” writes Cole, “its pulsating call to Welty never ceased.”

Eudora Welty, one of America’s most acclaimed and honored writers, is the author of many novels and story collections, including The Optimist’s Daughter (Pulitzer Prize), Losing Battles, The Ponder Heart, The Robber Bridegroom, A Curtain of Green, and The Wide Net. Three collections of her photographic work—Photographs, Country Churchyards, and One Time, One Place: Mississippi in the Depression—were published by the University Press of Mississippi.

Sleep No MoreSleep No More

By Greg Iles

Signet (Paperback, $7.99, ISBN: 0451208765)

Publication date: May 2003

Description from Publishers Weekly :

Iles has written some solid, beautifully constructed thrillers (24 Hours; Dead Sleep), so when his latest seems for page after page to have no logical explanation for its central mystery, we hold on, bide our time and wait for the moment of revelation that will make everything fall into place. Unfortunately, that moment never comes. The puzzle of how a woman who has been dead for 10 years can suddenly appear in the body of another woman turns out not to be a mystery at all. It’s a whole other genre horror or fantasy or science fiction.

Iles fans will certainly enjoy the way he once again brings to piquant life his home turf Natchez and the Mississippi Delta and creates a character with an actual job. John Waters is a petroleum geologist, and the details of his work are carefully rendered. He’s a happily married man of 41 with a bright eight-year-old daughter, although his sex life has all but disappeared in the wake of several disastrous pregnancies. So he’s ready to be pushed over the edge by the sudden appearance of Eve Sumner, a 32-year-old real estate agent who seems to know every intimate detail of Waters’s youthful affair with the late Mallory Candler, a mentally fragile beauty queen who was subsequently raped and murdered in New Orleans.

The game gets really serious when Eve is also murdered. Possibilities abound: John’s weak and financially reckless partner might be behind the whole thing, and even Waters’s embittered wife could be a suspect. Readers will probably stick around to see how Iles gets himself off the hook, but it’s hard to imagine many of them coming away completely satisfied. —Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Sonny Montgomery: The Veteran’s Champion

By G. V. “Sonny” Montgomery with Michael B. Ballard and Craig S. Piper

University Press of Mississippi (Hardcover, $25.00, ISBN: 1578065542)

Publication date: May 2003

Description from the publisher:

The autobiography of the Mississippi Congressman who spearheaded the drive for the revamped G.I. Bill.

Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1966, Democrat G. V. “Sonny” Montgomery represented Mississippi’s Third District in Congress for fifteen terms, serving under seven presidents. Sonny Montgomery: The Veteran’s Champion, his autobiography, renders a very personal history of nearly forty years in public life.

Advocacy for veterans, the lodestar of his career, came from personal experience and conviction. In 1945, he helped capture a German machine gun nest and earned the Bronze Star Medal for Valor. With self-effacing humility he recalls World War II and his return to duty in Korea.

Among many accomplishments, he ranks one as his most outstanding. He rallied the votes to pass the bill named for him, The Montgomery G.I. Bill (HR 1657), which overhauled the original 1947 legislation by extending benefits to thousands of soldiers in the nation’s all-volunteer service.

Chairing the select committee on POWs and MIAs, he and investigators determined whether Vietnam, Cambodia, and other theaters of war were holding American servicemen captive.

Montgomery comments on the Presidents he worked with and knew personally—the erratic Richard Nixon, the affable Gerald Ford, the stern Jimmy Carter, and the congenial George H. W. Bush.

During Ronald Reagan’s presidency, Montgomery became a charter member of the “Boll Weevils,” a coterie of southern and other Democrats. He discloses how the group was formed and how and why its members broke party lines to support a Republican President’s legislative agenda.

Now a senior statesman known affectionately on Capitol Hill as “Mr. Veteran,” Montgomery reflects on both his political and personal life, his friendships with Senator John C. Stennis and other powerful figures, and his varied political accomplishments. Sonny Montgomery: The Veteran’s Champion is a fulfilling story of a Mississippi hero invigorated by life in public service.

G. V. “Sonny” Montgomery lives in Meridian, Mississippi, and Washington, D.C., where he is still an active veterans’ advocate.

Michael B. Ballard, coordinator of the Congressional and Political Research Center at Mississippi State University, has published Pemberton: The General Who Lost Vicksburg and Civil War Mississippi: A Guide (both from University Press of Mississippi).

Craig S. Piper is an archivist at the Congressional and Political Research Center at Mississippi State University.

Hell at the BreechHell at the Breech

By Tom Franklin

William Morrow (Hardcover, $23.95, ISBN: 0688167411)

Publication date: May 2003

Description from the publisher:

In 1897, in the rural southwestern area of Alabama known as Mitcham Beat, an aspiring politician is mysteriously murdered. Seeking retribution, his outraged friends—mostly poor cotton farmers—form a secret society, Hell-at-the-Breech, to punish the townspeople they believe are responsible. The hooded members of this gang wage a bloody year-long campaign of terror that culminates in a massacre, where the innocent suffer alongside the guilty.

Caught in the maelstrom of the Mitcham War are four people: the county’s aging sheriff, sympathetic to both sides; the widowed midwife who delivered nearly every member of Hell-at-the-Breech; a ruthless detective who wages his own private war against the gang; and a young store clerk harboring a terrible secret.

Based on incidents that occurred a few miles from the author’s childhood home, Hell at the Breech chronicles the dark events of dark days, events that lead the people involved to discover their capacity for good, for evil, or for both. It is a mesmerizing and unforgettable display of talent by a writer of immeasurable gifts.

“Arguably the most extraordinary first novel to come out of the South since Charles Frazier’s National Book Award-winning Cold Mountain. In one fell swoop, Franklin leaps to the forefront of contemporry Southern writers.” —Orlando Sentinel

Seeking Enlightenment ... Hat to HatSeeking Enlightenment … Hat to Hat: A Skeptic’s Path to Religion

By Nevada Barr

Putnam (Hardcover, $21.95, ISBN: 0399150579)

Publication date: May 2003

Description from Publishers Weekly :

“A life ago,” Barr writes, “I was depressed, broke, homeless, unemployed and divorced.” One evening she wandered into an Episcopal church, primarily because it was unlocked. Desperation, not interest in religion, had brought her there, but warmly accepting parishioners kept her, and soon she wanted to be confirmed. “I went to the priest and asked him if it would be okay considering I didn’t accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior, didn’t believe the Bible was divinely inspired and wasn’t entirely sure about the whole God thing. Fortunately Father Andrew had been tending his flock long enough to recognize a lost lamb when one came bleating into his office and put no obstacles in my way.” It was a turning point for Barr, who here describes the resulting changes in her life and thinking over the last six years. Readers of Barr’s bestselling mystery series featuring park ranger Anna Pigeon might have hoped for a whole book full of enlightenment about Anna’s creator. However, apart from the introduction and occasional anecdotes throughout, her first nonfiction work is more a collection of personal essays than spiritual memoir. In more than 40 short chapters, she looks at topics as varied as forgiveness, girlfriends, being ordinary, Halloween and of course hats, usually saying more about how she thinks life should be lived than about how she actually lives hers. Nevertheless, Barr’s sassy style, self-deprecating sense of humor and trenchant observations make for a good-and, yes, enlightening-read.
—Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Launching Our Black Children for SuccessLaunching Our Black Children for Success: A Guide for Parents of Kids from Three to Eighteen

By Joyce A. Ladner and Theresa Foy DiGeronimo

John Wiley & Sons (Paperback, $17.95, ISBN: 0787964883)

Publication date: June 2003


Launching Our Black Children for Success is right on target in emphasizing that parenting black youth requires supporting them at home to develop a strong sense of self-worth while working on their behalf outside of the home to bring about social change to ensure equal opportunity for every African American child. Absorbing the lessons outlined in this important book will greatly contribute to the strengths of black children and their families.”

—From the Foreword by Alvin F. Poussaint, M.D.

Launching Our Black Children for Success is a groundbreaking book that goes beyond the typical “how to get your kid into the best school or college” advice. This extraordinary book takes black parents step-by-step through the stages of child development so they can build a solid foundation for success in their children. It shows how to best instill pride, self-discipline, social skills, a work ethic, and a way to deal with the inevitable racism and prejudice their children will face. Authors Joyce Ladner and Theresa Foy DiGeronimo also offer a practical guide for overcoming the many injustices and obstacles African American families face and show how to shepherd their kids through the process that is required to help children keep their “eyes on the prize.” Launching Our Black Children for Success helps parents to provide the strength and the strategies their children need to seek out whatever career they dream of and deserve.

Mississippi: A Documentary History

Edited by Bradley G. Bond

University Press of Mississippi (Hardcover, $45.00, ISBN: 1578065410)

Publication date: June 2003

Description from the publisher:

The unfolding story of the Magnolia State as told in this striking collection of its historical documents.

In America’s collective imagination, Mississippi, a state that aptly may be described as the most southern place in America, is often deemed a sinister, forbidding landscape. While popular conceptions of other states are evoked by rosy likenesses chosen by promoters of tourism, the mere word Mississippi too often conjures thoughts of brutality, repression, and backwardness. To many outsiders, Mississippi’s controversial history continues to resonate in the present.

By allowing divergent historical voices to describe their understanding of events as they were unfolding, this new book of narrative history supports, emends, and even complicates such a vision of Mississippi’s past and present. The only book ever to present Mississippi’s story in a chronological documentary fashion, it includes a wide variety of public records, newspaper articles, academic papers, correspondence, ordinances, constitutional amendments, journal entries, and other documents.

Collected and placed together, they compose a narrative that reveals the state in all its great diversity of peoples and terrains—free and slave; rich, poor, and middling; coastal, hill country, Delta; black, white, and Native American.

Several chapters, particularly those on antebellum Mississippi and Reconstruction, represent recent scholarly views and correct lingering misconceptions of those years. The editor and compiler has written an introduction to each section and has placed the documents in an appropriate historical context that makes them accessible to students, scholars, archivists, librarians, and lay readers alike.

Although many of these documents are well known, many also have never been seen since their inception. In juxtaposition they offer a striking portrait. The parts and the whole alike show that Mississippi remains ever controversial, ever puzzling, ever fascinating.

Bradley G. Bond is an associate professor of history at the University of Southern Mississippi. He is the author of Political Culture in the 19th-Century South.

Time Passages

By Sylvia Higginbotham

Parlance (ISBN: 097210321X )

Publication date: July 2003


Covers fifty years of the life and times of V. Birney Imes, Sr. through a compilation of his writings in the Columbus, Mississippi, Commercial Dispatch newspaper and interviews of his friends, acquaintances and former employees.

The Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Civil Rights: From Emancipation to the Twenty-First Century

Edited by Charles D. Lowery, John F. Marszalek, and Thomas Adams Upchurch

2 vols., Second edition (first published in 1992)

Greenwood Press (Hardcover, ISBN: 031332171X)

Publication date: August 2003

The Footprints of GodThe Footprints of God

By Greg Iles

Scribner (Hardcover, $25.95, ISBN: 0743234693)

Publication date: August 2003

Description from the publisher:

From the acclaimed New York Times bestselling author comes a cutting-edge new thriller rich with imagination and vision.

In the heart of North Carolina’s Research Triangle stands a corporate laboratory much like the others nearby. But behind its walls, America’s top scientists work around the clock to attain the holy grail of the twenty-first century—a supercomputer that surpasses the power of the human mind.

Appointed by the president as ethicist to Project Trinity, Dr. David Tennant finds himself in a pressure cooker of groundbreaking science and colossal ambition. When his friend and fellow scientist is murdered, David discovers that the genius who runs Project Trinity was responsible and that his own life is in danger. Unable to reach the president, and afraid to trust his colleagues, David turns to Rachel Weiss, the psychiatrist probing the nightmares that have plagued him during his work at Trinity. Rachel is skeptical of David's fears, but when an assassin strikes, the two doctors must flee for their lives.

Pursued across the globe by ruthless National Security Agency operatives, David and Rachel struggle to piece together the truth behind Project Trinity and the enormous power it could unleash upon the world. As constant danger deepens their intimacy, Rachel realizes the key to Trinity lies buried in David's disturbed mind. But Trinity’s clock is ticking…

Mankind is being held hostage by a machine that cannot be destroyed. Its only hope—a terrifying chess game between David and the Trinity computer, with the cities of the world as pawns. But what are the rules? How human is the machine? Can one man and woman change the course of history? Man’s future hangs in the balance, and the price of failure is extinction.

Considered one of the most insightful and ingenious of the new generation of bestselling authors, Greg Iles has written a thriller that maps the fascinating territory where science and spirit clash in a battle for the future of humanity. Stunning in its scope, The Footprints of God is a brilliant realization of its author’s talent.

Blue Window: Poems

By Ann Fisher-Wirth

Archer Books (Paperback, $14.00, ISBN: 1931122156)

Publication date: August 2003


“In that shadowy time before sorrow…” the title poem of Ann Fisher-Wirth’s Blue Window begins, invoking a young girl’s world of befores: before sexual and political awareness; before loss, grief, and guilt; before deaths in the neighborhood and the family. Fisher-Wirth continues tracing a series of journeys begun at that time. An Army brat and lifelong traveler who grew up in California and now lives in Mississippi; daughter, lover, wife, and mother; environmentalist, literature professor, and student of yoga and Reiki, Ann Fisher-Wirth writes out of the full range of her experience. Grounded in the body and the earth, Blue Window mourns and celebrates what it is to be alive.

“Many American poets have written what gets called ‘the autobiographical lyric.’ Very few poets have written it with such fierce and stinging accuracy. [Ann Fisher-Wirth] is, stylistically, a realist and a modernist. Like William Carlos Williams … she can be a little headlong, perhaps a little ruthless, and that quality gives this book, which also has the virtues of tenderness and attentiveness, its steel and its nerve.”
—Robert Hass, former U.S. poet laureate, author, most recently, of the collection Sun Under Wood

“Sweet, rank, precise, unafraid of either deep pain or deep joy, these poems remind me of horses in a pasture, always aware of their power and grace, even in repose, and always, completely natural. It is not just the poet who is acutely alive, in this work, but, somehow, the poems themselves.”
Rick Bass, Author, The Hermit’s Story: Stories, The Roadless Yaak, and others.

Ann Fisher-Wirth lives in Oxford, Mississippi, where she teaches poetry and environmental literature at the University of Mississippi. She is the author of William Carlos Williams and Autobiography: The Woods of His Own Nature and of numerous essays on American literature, and a Fulbright Scholar who in 2002-2003 held the Chair of American Studies at Uppsala University, Sweden. She and her husband Peter Wirth have five children.

Stories from the Blue Moon CafeStories from the Blue Moon Cafe II: Anthology of Southern Writers

Edited by Sonny Brewer

MacAdam/Cage Publishing (Hardcover, $25.00, ISBN: 1931561435)

Publication date: August 2003

Description from Publishers Weekly:

Eclectic, unpretentious and enjoyable, this collection of short stories, poetry and nonfiction is the second installment in the Blue Room Cafe series, edited by Brewer, owner of an Alabama bookstore and director of the annual literary event Southern Writers Reading. The majority of the book is high quality fiction, much of it by authors little known outside the Deep South. The opening story by Larry Brown, “A Roadside Resurrection,” is a gritty tale of a dying man and a healer who is cursed by his gift for healing. In William Gay’s “Homecoming,” a man drops in on wealthy relatives and finds the rich have more problems than he ever imagined. In Michelle Richmond’s “Choose Your Travel Partner Wisely,” a woman finds out more than she wants to know about her husband during a tropical holiday. Another husband and wife grow apart in “Orphans,” by Donald Hays, in which an Oklahoma dentist finds God and moves to Russia to found an orphanage, his skeptical wife trailing behind.

The strong nonfiction entries include “My Heroes Have Always Been Grill Cooks: Rumination on William Price Fox’s Southern Fried,” by John T. Edge, an insightful piece presented in a style recalling Fox’s famous staccato delivery. Among the poems, the most moving is David Fuller’s “Linda Wahlthal,” in which a man wonders whatever became of his first love. Brewer’s anthology must compete for shelf space with other, longer-established series, but the pleasing array of fresh voices and discerning selection of material makes this a welcome alternative. —Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

I, Rhoda Manning, Go Hunting with My Daddy: And Other Stories

By Ellen Gilchrist

Back Bay Books (Paperback, ISBN: 0316738689)

Publication date: August 2003

Description from Booklist:

Gilchrist’s most captivating recurring character, the classy and indomitable Rhoda Manning, starred in many of the best offerings in Gilchrist’s altogether splendid Collected Stories (2000). Now more fascinating than ever at age 65, Rhoda rules this potent new collection, too, as she reflects on her contentious past, especially her complicated relationships with her tough and commanding father and her three headstrong sons. Her macho and assiduous father amassed a fortune selling tractors, abruptly left the “decadent” South for the clean and godly mountains of Wyoming, then schemed to lure his clan to his new world. Rhoda finally recognizes how much she resembles her impossible but righteous father, how much she misses him, and how much they both suffered over their failure to keep her wily sons away from drugs and other risky escapades. With Rhoda as her foil, Gilchrist writes with startling clarity about the narcotized 1970s, the wildness of teenagers, and the helplessness of parents.

Another of her intriguing regulars, Nora Jane, headlines in a superbly suspenseful tale that is set in earthquake-rocked San Francisco and features a band of Islamic terrorists. A virtuoso in the art of understatement with a profound sense of place and a flair for sly dialogue, Gilchrist choreographs unnerving scenarios with a devilish offhandedness.

Acutely observant, wry, and wise, Gilchrist loves to write about characters who have it all—beauty, wealth, and strong family ties—and therefore stand to lose so very much. “Nothing human is easy,” says a woman in one spring-loaded tale, and that says it all.

—Donna Seaman. Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved.

They Write Among Us: New Stories and Essays from the Best of Oxford Writers

Edited by Jim Dees

Jefferson Press (Paperback, $16.95, ISBN: 0971897417)

Publication date: September 2003


An anthology of stories and essays from writers in Oxford, Mississippi, including Larry Brown, Tom Franklin, Beth Ann Fennelly, Willie Morris, and others.

The Rabbit Factory

By Larry Brown

Free Press (Hardcover, $25.00, ISBN: 0743245237)

Publication date: September 2003

Description from Publishers Weekly:

Grimly realistic, tragic-absurd and raunchy, Brown’s latest novel returns to his deep South fictional territory and to the characters—poor, largely uneducated, hard-drinking, cigarette and dope smoking—that he portrays so well. This time he juggles a large cast with one thing in common: they’re long-time losers whose paths intersect in or near Memphis.

Arthur is nearly 70, impotent and fearful of losing his sexy younger wife, Helen. She tries to seduce teenaged Eric, a pet shop employee who fled his abusive father’s rabbit factory—a metaphor for the uncaring world in which these people exist. Anjalee is a prostitute who smites the heart of Wayne, a navy boxer. Domino has survived a prison term and now works butchering meat for a gangster named Mr. Hamburger, who sells it to a man who owns lions. Trouble is, the body of one of Mr. Hamburger’s victims turns up in the meat locker, which complicates Domino’s extracurricular job dealing weed over the border in Mississippi.

The plot includes several murders, lots of sex, domestic spats and plenty of action in bars. Even the violent scenes veer close to farce. Dogs figure prominently, one of them a pit bull named Jada Pickett. Miss Muffet, who is the housekeeper for one of the spoiled canines, has a plastic leg. Yet even with the advantage of Brown’s keen eye for the absurdities of life and for the habits of people who live on the edge, the book fails to deliver the punch of his earlier works. Fay, his most accomplished novel to date, was darker, but one could identify with the protagonist. Here, the characters are all self-absorbed and incessantly whiny, and their obsessive rambling thoughts are recounted in numbing detail. Readers will understand well before the end that these sad lives will never go anywhere but down. —Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.


By John Grisham

Doubleday (Hardcover, $19.95, ISBN: 0385511612)

Publication date: September 2003

Description from Publishers Weekly:

Grisham demonstrated he could produce bestsellers without legal aid with The Painted House and Skipping Christmas, and he'll undoubtedly do so again with this slight but likable novel of high school football, a legendary coach and the perils of too early fame. Fifteen years after graduation, Neely Crenshaw, one-time star quarterback of the Messina Spartans, returns home on hearing news of the impending death of tough-as-nails coach Eddie Rake.

Neely knows the score: “When you’re famous at eighteen, you spend the rest of your life fading away.” It’s a lesson he’s learned the hard way after destroying his knee playing college ball and drifting through life in an ever-downward spiral. He and his former teammates sit in the bleachers at the high school stadium waiting for Rake to die, drinking beer and reminiscing. There is a mystery involving the legendary ’87 championship, and Neely has unfinished business with an old high school sweetheart, but neither story line comes to much.

Readers will guess the solution to the mystery, as does the town police chief when it’s divulged to him (“ ‘We sorta figured it out,’ said Mal”) and Neely’s former girlfriend doesn’t want to have anything to do with his protestations of love (“You’ll get over it. Takes about ten years”). The stirring funeral scene may elicit a few tears, but Neely’s eulogy falls curiously flat. After living through four hard days in Messina, the lessons Neely learns are unremarkable (“Those days are gone now”). Many readers will come away having enjoyed the time spent, but wishing there had been a more sympathetic lead character, more originality, more pages, more story and more depth. —Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

On William Faulkner

By Eudora Welty, afterword by Noel Polk

University Press of Mississippi (Hardcover, $25.00, ISBN: 1578065704)

Publication date: September 2003

Description from the publisher:

Eudora Welty and William Faulkner crossed literary and personal paths.

Eudora Welty said that being in the same state with the phenomenal William Faulkner was like living near a big mountain. On William Faulkner reveals her encounters with that mountain, both personal and literary.

The new book brings together Welty’s reviews, essays, lectures, and musings on Faulkner, including such gems as her reviews of Intruder in the Dust and The Selected Letters of William Faulkner, as well as her comments during her presentation of the Gold Medal to Faulkner during the National Institute of Arts and Letters awards ceremony in 1962. The collection also features an excerpt from a letter she wrote to the novelist Jean Stafford, telling of meeting Faulkner and of going sailing with him. Included too are Welty’s impassioned defense of Faulkner’s work — published as a letter to the New Yorker — and the obituary of the Nobel laureate that she wrote for the Associated Press.

In addition, the book includes a cryptic postcard Faulkner wrote to Welty from Hollywood, plus five photographs, and a caricature of Faulkner drawn by Welty during the 1930s.

Commenting on the place of both writers in contemporary literature, an essay by the noted literary scholar Noel Polk puts the collection in context and offers assessment and appreciation of their achievements in American literature.

On William Faulkner is a valuable resource for exploring Faulkner’s work and sensing Welty’s critical voice. Her sharp critical eye and graceful prose make her an astute commentator on his legacy.

Eudora Welty is the author of many novels and story collections, including The Optimist’s Daughter (Pulitzer Prize), Losing Battles, The Ponder Heart, The Robber Bridegroom, A Curtain of Green and Other Stories, as well as three collections of her photographic work—Photographs, Country Churchyards, and One Time, One Place: Mississippi in the Depression (all from the University Press of Mississippi).

William Faulkner is the author of The Sound and the Fury, Light in August, Absalom, Absalom!, Sanctuary, As I Lay Dying, among others. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950.

Noel Polk, a professor of English at the University of Southern Mississippi, is the author of many critical studies on Welty and Faulkner and is the co-editor of the Library of America edition of Faulkner’s works.

Elroy Nights

By Frederick Barthelme

Counterpoint Press (Hardcover, $24.00, ISBN: 1582431280)

Publication date: September 2003

Description from Publishers Weekly:

This slight story of midlife crisis and fantasy romance follows Barthelme’s familiar path along the southern Gulf Coast. Elroy Nights is a 50-something art professor at a small, third-rate Mississippi university. Amicably separated from his wife, Clare, he fills his otherwise solitary life with occasional visits or dinner at Clare’s when her grown daughter Winter is there. When Winter brings home Freddie, a free spirit of a girl who will be Elroy’s student in the coming term, Elroy is instantly smitten. But the affair into which they casually fall leads to tragedy for their friends and near disaster for them. As Elroy ambles along, attempting to rediscover his youth by hanging out with his students, drinking and smoking again, taking impromptu road trips and listening to collegiate wisdom, he narrates his adventures, such as they are, but remains little more than a hazy collection of half-formed impressions. None of the other characters ever quite emerges as three-dimensional, either. The story is too precious and whimsical by half; no events-be they deaths, shootings or divorce talks-leave much of a mark. Through it all, Elroy observes and questions (“I thought it would be great to be inside somebody else’s head for a while, to hear the noise in there,” he thinks about Freddie), striving halfheartedly to regain his bearings. Barthelme’s 13th work of fiction-with its slight romance and unexceptional protagonist-may disappoint fans of his earlier work.

Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Where Is Joe Merchant? A Novel Tale

A Novel by Jimmy Buffett

Harvest Books (Paperback, $14.00, ISBN: 0156026996)

Publication date: September 2003

Description from Kirkus Reviews:

The relaxed and reigning king of beach music, who most recently told Tales From Margaritaville (1989), tries his hand at a relaxed and rambling novel. It's about seaplanes, a pretty girl, a vanished rock star, the curse of jet skis, a magic scepter, disrupters of paradise, and conch burgers. Joe Merchant, of the title, is the missing, presumed dead rock star whose sister Trevor Kane has returned to Florida to enlist her old lover Frank Bama to check out rumors of Merchant’s survival. Trevor left Frank, a Vietnam vet who would rather fly than get serious, years ago because he seemed to love his ancient seaplane more than he loved her. Frank’s doughty seaplane, however, is just what she needs to go in search of someone named Desdemona, who might be somewhere in the Caribbean. There is a Desdemona, and she does have a psychic link to the missing musician. She’s been getting extrasensory messages for months. Also on the trail of Mr. Merchant and Desdemona are trash journalist Rudy Breno and one-armed, archvillainous soldier-of-fortune Colonel Cairo. Colonel Cairo is obsessed with the restoration of his missing arm, a task requiring a missing crystal. Desdemona might know something about that. The searches are Florida-intense, which is to say that there is plenty of time for subplots about Frank’s chum who has been blowing up the jet skis that make paradise too noisy, and about a coldblooded killer with eyeballs tattooed on his eyelids who’s not, after all, a subplot. So laid-back and rambling it’s perilously close to sloppy, but Buffett’s considerable charms as a performer and goof-off artist keep things afloat. The uninitiated may be baffled; his fans will be enchanted.

Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

The Ninemile Wolves

Nonfiction by Rick Bass

Mariner Books (Paperback, $13.00, ISBN: 0618263020)

First published 1992

Publication date: September 2003

Description from the publisher:

One of Rick Bass’s most widely respected works of natural history, The Ninemile Wolves follows the fate of a modern wolf pack, the first known group of wolves to attempt to settle in Montana outside protected national park territory. The wolf inspires hatred, affection, myth, fear, and pity; its return polarizes the whole of the West—igniting the passions of cattle ranchers and environmentalists, wildlife biologists and hunters. One man’s vigorous, emotional inquiry into the proper relationship between man and nature, The Ninemile Wolves eloquently advocates wolf reintroduction in the West. In a new preface, Bass discusses the enduring lessons of the Ninemile story.

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