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Welcome to the Mississippi Writers Page Newsletter for Feb. 8-14, 2002.

In this issue:


The following events all happened during this week in Mississippi history.


1699: Pierre Le Moyne, Sieur d’Iberville, leading a French expedition to establish a permanent settlement in Louisiana, first enters present-day Mississippi at Ship Island. (Feb. 10)

1925: William Faulkner published “Mirrors of Chartres Street” in the New Orleans Times-Picayune. (Feb. 8)

1931: The novel Sanctuary, by William Faulkner, was published by Cape & Smith. (Feb. 9)

1934: William Faulkner published “A Bear Hunt” in the Saturday Evening Post. (Feb. 10)

1941: The Atlantic Monthly accepted Eudora Welty’s short story “Why I Live At the P.O.” for publication. (Feb. 11)

1943: William Faulkner published “Shingles for the Lord” in the Saturday Evening Post. (Feb. 13)

1951: William Faulkner’s Notes on a Horsethief was published. (Feb. 10)

1954: Shall Not Perish, teleplay by William Faulkner based on his story, was broadcast on Lux Video Theatre. (Feb. 11)

1955: John Grisham was born in Jonesboro, Arkansas. (Feb. 8)

1997: The television movie Old Man, based on the novella by William Faulkner, was broadcast on CBS. (Feb. 9)



Southern Culture Center to compile encylopedia of Mississippi

January 28, 2002

By Deidre Jackson
University News Services, University of Mississippi

UNIVERSITY, Miss. — The University of Mississippi’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture has received a $50,000 planning grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to compose the Mississippi Encyclopedia, an exhaustive historical reference book.

“Mississippi is a place with a strong sense of the past to our present and future,” said Dr. Charles Reagan Wilson, center director. “Mississippi Encyclopedia will not only provide authoritative information on our state’s history and culture, but will help enrich our appreciation for the diversity of our experience.”

Featuring listings from Adams County and Alcorn State University to author Stark Young and the town of Zion Hill, the one-volume hardback edition will include some 2,500 entries contained within 800 pages.

The project will total some $400,000, with additional funding from outside sources disbursed over four years. Mississippi Encyclopedia is set to be published in late 2005 or 2006.

In 2000, the center began the joint project with the Mississippi Humanities Council, the University Press of Mississippi and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. Distinguished as the first regional studies center to offer bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in Southern studies, the UM center this fiscal year (2002) is the recipient of one of 363 NEH grants totaling $21.6 million.

“This is truly a collaborative effort project that will require our working with institutions and individuals throughout the state and nation,” said Wilson, also professor of history on the Oxford campus.

Among an impressive list of achievements of the center, which has been studying the South since its founding in 1977, is the publication of the award-winning The Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, (University of North Carolina Press, 1989), which Wilson co-edited. Seetha Srinivasan, director of the Mississippi Press, asked the center to lead the project based on its successful experience with The Encyclopedia, Wilson said.

“Those of us at the Center for the Study of Southern Culture are excited at the opportunity to work in developing the Mississippi Encyclopedia,” Wilson said. “This encyclopedia will not only provide authoritative information on our state’s history and culture, but help enrich our appreciation for the diversity of our experience.”

In addition to text, images and excerpts from primary sources, Mississippi Encyclopedia will feature entries from more than 400 authors. An online component of the resource will offer interactive digital media formats, including text, still images, audio and video.

Twenty-eight consulting editors will suggest topics and contributors to the volume. The major areas to be featured include geography, archaeology, fiction, poetry, drama, nonfiction, music, visual arts, architecture, folklife, food, sports, women, religion, law, politics and political history, Native Americans, social and economic history, the Civil War, the Civil Rights Movement, environment, education, ethnic diversity, business and industry, agriculture, the press, and Mississippi’s myths and representations.

The NEH was created in 1965 as an independent federal agency to support learning in history, literature, philosophy and other areas of the classroom. The largest funder of humanities programs in the United States, NEH grants enrich classroom learning, create and preserve knowledge and bring ideas to life through public television, radio, new technologies, museum exhibitions and programs in libraries and other community places.

NEH’s past chair, William R. Ferris, is the former director of the UM Center for the Study of Southern Culture and UM professor of anthropology.


William Faulkner ‘American Writers’ program on C-SPAN rescheduled for May 5

February 6, 2002

C-SPAN has announced the resumption of its American Writers: A Journey Through History series, postponed in the wake of the events of September 11, 2001. The series explores the lives and works of selected American writers who have chronicled, reflected upon or influenced the course of our nation’s history, from Plymouth Rock to Vietnam.

The segment on William Faulkner is scheduled for live telecast on Sunday, May 5, 2002, beginning at 3 p.m. ET on C-SPAN. The program will be broadcast live from Rowan Oak, the antebellum home in Oxford, Mississippi, that Faulkner bought in 1930 and refurbished. Except for temporary stays as a screenwriter in Hollywood and as writer in residence at the University of Virginia, Faulkner lived at Rowan Oak until his death in 1962.

The Faulkner program will be re-aired on C-SPAN on Friday, May 10, at 8 p.m. ET.

Originally begun in March 2001, American Writers: A Journey Through History takes viewers throughout the United States for live telecasts featuring the novels, speeches, diaries, essays, and life stories of writers like Benjamin Franklin, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mark Twain, and of course, William Faulkner. In all, the series chronicles more than 45 American writers over the course of eight periods in American history.

In September, C-SPAN announced the postponement of future installments in the series so that the public affairs network could devote all its resources and editorial attention to coverage of the aftermath of September 11.

The series resumes March 31, 2002, with a program on poet Langston Hughes.

Each installment is devoted to one of the featured authors and originates live from a historic site associated with the writer’s life and works.

The series invites experts to discuss the program’s featured writer and his or her body of work. Historians and archivists discuss the writer’s background, literary significance, and the time period the writer lived in or wrote about. The series also takes a look at the homes and historic sites important to the writer and his or her work.

As an additional resource, C-SPAN offers an online complement to the series, The site provides detailed information on each featured writer and information on C-SPAN's live program dedicated to the author. Schedules of upcoming American Writers programming and a RealAudio/Video® archive of previously aired programming are also included on the site.


Grisham’s Southern campaign rallies fans around indies

February 7, 2002

By Bob Summer

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the PW Daily email newsletter from Publishers Weekly (

Although this week’s PW Forecasts, which called John Grisham’s new legal thriller, The Summons, (Doubleday) not “one of his most satisfying books,” 75 fans lined up in five inches of snow outside Burke’s Book Store in Memphis, Tenn., to secure one of the 200 tickets for his signing next Wednesday. It will be the 12th time the former Mississippi lawyer and state legislator has held an event at the 127-year-old independent. Co-owner Cheryl Mesler told PW Daily that by the end of the day on Wednesday, almost all 200 tickets — for which a purchase of at least one copy of The Summons is required — had been snapped up, with the rest expected to go before noon today.

There’s been similar excitement over Grisham’s return at Mississippi bookstores, where Lemuria in Jackson, Square Books in Oxford and Reed’s Gumtree in Tupelo, all of which, in tandem with Burke’s and That Bookstore in Blytheville, Ark., began hosting Grisham for signings long before he became an international bestselling phenomenon.

Lyn Roberts, manager of Square Books, notes that Grisham’s first signing was for A Time to Kill in 1989, when it was first published by tiny Wynwood Press. At the time, Grisham lived year-round in Oxford.

That Bookstore in Blytheville owner Mary Gay Shipley vividly recalls that Grisham was there for a signing of 1991’s The Firm (Doubleday), when he learned his thriller had hit national bestseller lists.

Alluding to the five Deep South independents that have supported Grisham from the beginning and to which he has remained loyal, Shipley adds, “all of us have sort of grown up with him and have developed similar procedures for handling the signings.”

The mutually appreciated (and rewarding!) mini-tour that will open this time at Shipley’s store on February 11 and end at John Evan’s Lemuria on February 19 is “by turn something we do for him and he does for us. We work all arrangements out with him, not Doubleday.”

While two tour participants wouldn’t peg the size of their orders for the signings, Burke’s indicated it is ordering 2,500 copies while Lemuria and Reed’s Gumtree’s are stocking 3,000. At each store Grisham will extend his reach beyond the formal signing event and will sign copies for phone, e-mail and Web site orders or stock as well as committing to a couple of press conferences.

Will Grisham’s return to a Mississippi setting in The Summons swell attendance at the signings? “Perhaps somewhat,” says Evans, “but Grisham readers in Jackson are interested in everything he writes, whatever its settling and nature. Our phones begin ringing off the hook as soon as we announce another Grisham signing.”

“Grisham signings are major events for us,” echoes Shipley. “In fact, John’s books sell so well here that they’re the main reason we’re still in business after 25 years. People come down from Little Rock and as far away as Nashville for his signings. One regular fills a bus with 30 people, and often high school teachers bring sizable student groups. Being known as a store John comes to on each new book has brought us customers from throughout the nation, in addition to helping us attract other authors for signings.”

Reed’s Gumtree manager Camille Sloan posits another reason for Grisham’s continuing regional popularity, however, even if he does live part of the year now in Charlottesville, Va.: “He’s unfailingly gracious, and his signings are like reunions of old friends.”

In other words, as they say in the South, he hasn’t forgotten where he came from.


Do you have a news item about a Mississippi writer? Please send your information to


The following articles were recently added to the Writer Listings:

NEW BOOKS from or about Mississippi

Hunting Season
By Nevada Barr
Putnam (Hardcover, $24.95, ISBN: 0399148469)
Publication Date: February 18, 2002

Review by John Rowen, 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.

Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved.

AUTHOR EVENTS: Book Signings, Readings, and Appearances

Feb. 7-9: Magnolia Independent Film Festival
Starkville Cinema, Starkville, Mississippi. For more information on ticket prices and feature schedule, visit the film festival web site at or call (662) 494-5836.

Feb. 9: Lemuria, 202 Banner Hall, Jackson, Mississippi, 1:00 p.m.
Jim Fraiser and West Freeman will sign copies of The Majesty of the Mississippi Delta. For more info, call (601) 366-7619.

Feb. 9: Gin Mill Mall, 109 Pershing Ave., Indianola, Mississippi, 2:00 p.m.
Stephen Kirkpatrick will sign copies of his book of photographs, Wilder Mississippi. For more info, call (662) 887-3209.

Feb. 11: That Bookstore, Blytheville, AR
John Grisham will sign copies of his novel The Summons. Visit That Bookstore’s web site for details on this event,

Feb. 12: Square Books, Oxford, Mississippi, 9:00 a.m.
John Grisham will return to Oxford to sign copies of his novel The Summons. Please read the rules below carefully and be sure to contact us if you have any questions. At 9 a.m. on the morning of the 12th, we’ll pass out numbered tickets to the first 200 people in line. If you receive a ticket you will be able to return that afternoon and have John Grisham sign two copies of The Summons for you. Your ticket will tell you what time to return. He will only sign copies of The Summons purchased from Square Books. No other items or previous books will be allowed to be signed.

Feb. 13: Burke’s Book Store, Memphis, TN
John Grisham will sign copies of his novel The Summons. Visit the Burke’s Book Store web site for details on this event,

Feb. 13: Lemuria, 202 Banner Hall, Jackson, Mississippi, 5 p.m.
Elmore Leonard will sign and read from Tishomingo Blues. Signing at 5 p.m., reading at 7 p.m.

Feb. 14: Lemuria, 202 Banner Hall, Jackson, Mississippi, 5 p.m.
Gary Penley will sign Della Raye.

Feb. 15: Lemuria, 202 Banner Hall, Jackson, Mississippi, 5:30 p.m.
James McBride will sign Miracle at St. Anne.

Feb. 19: Lemuria, 202 Banner Hall, Jackson, Mississippi
John Grisham will sign copies of his novel The Summons. Visit the Lemuria web site for details on this event,

If you know of upcoming readings and appearances by Mississippi writers, please let us know by writing us at


The following events are planned for the coming weeks and months. You may wish to begin planning now to attend or participate.

March 1, 2002
David Galef, University of Mississippi professor of English and creative writing, will sign and read from his new story collection, Laugh Track, at Square Books in Oxford.

March 8, 2002
Jim Fraiser will sign and talk about Majesty of the Mississippi Delta at Square Books in Oxford. From historic Port Gibson up the river to Memphis, Fraiser details the architectural features of homes, churches, and stores dating back as far as the early 19th century.

March 21, 2002
Clinton, Mississippi, resident Nevada Barr will return to Square Books in Oxford this time on Thacker Mountain Radio, with her newest novel, Hunting Season. It’s the tenth book in the Anna Pigeon series. Anna investigates the murder of a man at a Natchez Trace tourist spot. The show starts at 5:30 p.m.

March 27, 2002
Edward Cohen returns to Square Books in Oxford to read from his book The Peddler’s Grandson: Growing Up in Jewish in Mississippi. 5 p.m.

April 5, 2002
Richard Ford returns to Square Books in Oxford with a new collection of short stories, A Multitude of Sins. 5 p.m.

The Ninth Oxford Conference for the Book
April 11-14, 2002
The University of Mississippi and Oxford, Mississippi

Check back for registration information.

Interhostel: “Views from the South: Literature, History, and Art”
April 21-26, 2002
E. F. Yerby Conference Center, University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi
Short-term academic program for individuals 50 and older (with accompanying spouses or adult companions of any age). Sponsored by the Institute for Continuing Studies. Fee: $845 (includes five nights hotel accommodations, meals, classes and extracurricular activities). Sponsored by: UM Institute for Continuing Studies. For more information, please contact: Lynne Geller at 662-915-7282; or email:

April 27, 2002
Children’s book writer Laurie Parker will give a reading at Square Books in Oxford from her new book, The Turtle Saver. It’s the story of a man who stops on the Natchez Trace to move a turtle off the pavement and ends up setting off a hilarious chain of events.

The 29th Annual Faulkner & Yoknapatawpha Conference:
“Faulkner and His Contemporaries”

July 21-26, 2002
The University of Mississippi, Oxford

Information on registration is forthcoming.

If you know of additional news items for this newsletter or if you have suggestions, please write us at

For more information about events in the Oxford and University, Mississippi Community, see the Ole Miss Community Calendar:

The Mississippi Writers Page is online at

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