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Welcome to the Mississippi Writers Page Newsletter for August 16-22, 2002.

In this issue:


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

1904: Economist Rudolph Coper was born in Berlin, Germany. (Aug. 20)

1925: William Faulkner published “Home” and “Episode,” both in the New Orleans Times-Picayune. (Aug. 16)

1944: Medical writer Donald M. Vickery was born in Brookhaven, Mississippi. (Aug. 22)

1949: The Golden Apples by Eudora Welty was published by Harcourt, Brace. (Aug. 18)

1951: English professor Donald R. Dickson was born in Biloxi, Mississippi. (Aug. 19)

1951: Writer and photograph Birney Imes was born in Columbus, Mississippi. (Aug. 21)

1954: William Faulkner’s daughter Jill married Paul D. Summers, Jr., in Oxford, Mississippi. (Aug. 21)

1973: Flags in the Dust, an uncut version of the novel Sartoris by William Faulkner, was published for the first time by Random House, more than 40 years after the original novel was published. (Aug. 22)

1974: Novelist Larry Brown married Mary Annie Coleman. (Aug. 17)


Call for Papers: “Faulkner and Ideology”

Aug. 17, 2002

The Faulkner Journal
Volume 21.1 and 22.1
(Fall 2005/Spring 2006)

The FJ is looking for papers exploring any issue incorporated within this broad topic. General concerns would include but would not be limited to: history and ideology, aesthetics and ideology, relationships between art and politics, criticism and ideology, race and ideology, especially the construction of whiteness. If ideology refers to the persuasive power of languages and value systems, and if the struggle for identity and a viable social space occurs through ideologies, this topic should open a rich terrain for Faulkner scholarship. Send all queries and submissions to:

Kevin Railey
Department of English
Buffalo State College
1300 Elmwood Ave
Buffalo, NY 14222-1095
(716) 878-5417

Call for Papers: “Hemingway, Faulkner and the Great American Writer: The Sound and Fury of Competition”

Aug. 17, 2002

The Hemingway Society is calling for papers to be delivered at its panel “Hemingway, Faulkner and the Great American Writer: The Sound and Fury of Competition” at the American Literature Association Conference in Boston May 22-25, 2003.

William Faulkner once infamously called Ernest Hemingway a dog, and Hemingway privately referred to Faulkner as “Old Corndrinking Mellifluous.” Each spent a career attempting to establish himself as the premier American writer of his generation, and often did so in mind of the other, who acted variously as a catalyst, foil and example for such efforts. In short, each seemed to inspire a volatile mix of admiration, envy and loathing in the

This session is devoted to a discussion of the complicated relationship between Faulkner and Hemingway as contemporaries, and their subsequent cultural and critical trajectories as American writers. The session welcomes a variety of approaches and premises for comparing the two figures, focused primarily on the complex relationship between personal and literary reputation.

Papers should offer a reasonable balance of biographical and textual analysis. Suggested subjects: the correspondence between the two men and their intermediaries; their critical estimations of each other and the degree to which these estimations reveal more about the estimator than the estimated; their inadvertent collaboration on To Have and Have Not; the different visions they offered on similar themes, such as hunting and war, and possible lines of influence; the relationship between personal celebrity and artistic achievement; the divergent critical responses to their work, before and after the Nobel Prizes; the degree to which our present sense of “American writer” was forged by the lives, careers and fiction of each.

Abstracts of 250 words and CV’s should be sent to the address below, no later than December 1, 2002.

Randy Boyagoda
Department of English
Boston University
236 Bay State Road
Boston, MA 02115
(617) 358-2549

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

NEW BOOKS by Mississippi Writers

Faulkner and the Politics of ReadingFaulkner and the Politics of Reading
By Karl F. Zender
Louisiana State University Press (Hardcover, $29.95, ISBN: 0807127612)
Publication date: August 2002

Description from the publisher:

With this study Karl F. Zender offers fresh readings of individual novels, themes, and motifs while also assessing the impact of recent politicized interpretations on our understanding of William Faulkner’s achievement. Sympathetically acknowledging the need to decenter the canon, Zender’s searching interrogation of current theory clears a breathing space for Faulkner and his readers between the fustier remnants of New Criticism and the excesses of post-structuralism.

Each chapter opens with a balanced presentation of the genuine gifts contemporary theory has bestowed on our understandings of a particular novel or problem in Faulkner criticism and then proceeds with a groundbreaking reading. “The Politics of Incest” challenges older psychoanalytic interpretations of Faulkner’s use of the incest motif, and “Faulkner’s Privacy” defends the novelist’s difficulty or “reticence” as an aesthetic resistence against the rude candor of depersonalized culture. Subsequent chapters take up the volatile issues of Faulkner’s representations of women and of African Americans, and the current tendency to blur the concepts of patriarchy and paternity. In the elegiac final chapter, Zender shows that Faulkner’s stylistic withdrawal in his later novels attempts to “transform into beauty” his alienation from the postwar world and his fear of aging.

That Faulkner and the Politics of Reading itself recovers and gives new luster to Faulkner’s beauty will surely please, in the author’s words, “those readers … for whom literature is less a mechanism of social change than a source of pleasure.”

Karl F. Zender is professor of English at the University of California at Davis and the author of The Crossing of the Ways: William Faulkner, the South, and the Modern World.

The Heaven of MercuryThe Heaven of Mercury: A Novel
By Brad Watson
W.W. Norton (Hardcover, $23.95, ISBN: 0393047571)
Publication date: August 2002

Description from Publishers Weekly:

Watson traces a dark but resonant journey through the world of the Southern gothic in his bleak, touching debut novel (after his hailed collection, Last Days of the Dog-Men), set in tiny Mercury, Miss., in the first quarter of the 20th century. He takes some risks in employing genre cliches, starting with the romantic triangle in which young, sensitive Finus Bates watches the girl of his dreams, Birdie Wells, marry a more determined suitor, the shallow but ardent earl Urquhart. That leaves Bates to marry Birdie’s best friend, Avis Crossweatherly, and both marriages fail miserably as Watson tracks his two would-be lovers through the years. At 16, Birdie is a victim of her slick husband's infidelity, which starts when he finds her sexually inadequate and turns his attention to other women, until he finally falls in love with a woman living in a nearby town.

Bates, meanwhile, realizes that Avis has engineered Birdie's marriage, leaving Bates vulnerable to her own rapacious pursuit. To escape his shrewish wife, he immerses himself in his work on his smalltown newspaper, where he pens eloquent obituaries (“Disappointments flock to us like crows,” he writes in one). Watson’s subordinate characters — including the compassionate town mortician, whose first experience of death involves necrophilia; former slave, medicine woman and midwife Aunt Vish, who knows all the dark secrets of the community; Creasie, a taciturn maid — are observed with cool irony and invested with humanity.

Several deaths punctuate the narrative, and casual, virulent racism is rampant, sometimes balanced by a grudging interracial respect. Watson’s prose is lush and sometimes a bit too orotund and faux-Faulknerian, but it fits the narrative theme of metamorphoses from one life to another, from earth to a land beyond. Copyright © 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Back to MississippiBack to Mississippi: A Personal Journey Through the Events that Changed America in 1964
By Mary Winstead
Hyperion (Hardcover, $22.95, ISBN: 0786867965)
Publication date: August 2002

Description from Publishers Weekly:

Although Winstead was born into “a family of storytellers” and possesses a promising tale, the pedestrian style and rickety structure of this memoir defuse what could have been a riveting and revealing historical account. The story concerns her discovery of her father’s cousin’s involvement in the 1964 murders of three civil rights workers in rural Mississippi. Amid the ragged juxtaposition of bits of research with unabsorbing details of daily life, Winstead’s periodic sketches of the victims (James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner) are often more intrusive than significant. This is also the case with her depiction of cousin Edgar Ray “Preacher” Killen, who coordinated the killings and was released in 1967 by a deadlocked state jury. (According to Winstead, his case will be tried again soon, and Mississippi’s attorney general has named him as the state’s main suspect. He did not talk to Winstead for this book.) Winstead’s colorless retelling of growing up in Minneapolis during the 1950s and ’60s, with occasional trips to visit her father’s Mississippi family, suggests comparison with Diane McWhorter’s Carry Me Home (2001). Alas, writing one’s life does not always mean examining it. Winstead’s acceptance of the notion that “most people in Philadelphia [Miss.] believed that the whole thing was a hoax” calls for greater scrutiny of her source, the Meridian [Miss.] Star. Andrew Goodman’s mother tells Winstead the event was a very important time in the nation’s history, and that for a long time not much was said about it at all. Winstead adds little to that record. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

AUTHOR EVENTS: Book Signings, Readings, and Appearances

Aug. 1-Nov. 4: J. D. William Library, University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi

“Civil Rights, Mississippi, and the Novelist’s Craft.” This exhibit highlights fictional accounts set in Mississippi during the Civil Rights Movement, including works by Ellen Douglas, Patrick D. Smith, Elizabeth Spencer, Eudora Welty, Lewis Nordan, William Mahoney, Joan Williams, and many others. Supplementing the display of books will be correspondence, manuscripts, and related ephemera drawn from the archive’s literary collections. Located in the Hall of Mississippi Writers in the Special Collections Department, J. D. Williams Library. Open 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays. For more information, please contact: Leigh McWhite, (662) 915-7937,

Sep. 5: Bondurant Hall Auditorium, University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi, 7:00 p.m.

Poetry Reading by Denise Duhamel and Nick Carbo. Joint poetry reading by two accomplished poets who are also husband and wife. Sponsored by the John and Renee Grisham Visiting Writers Series and the Department of English. For more information, contact the English Department at (662) 915-7687,

Oct. 7: Bondurant Hall Auditorium, University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi, 7:00 p.m.

Poetry Reading by Alan Michael Parker. Respected poet Alan Michael Parker will read from his work. Sponsored by the John and Renee Grisham Visiting Writers Series and the Department of English. For more information, contact the English Department at (662) 915-7687,

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.

November 11, 2002

Poetry Reading by J. D. McClatchy, Bondurant Hall Auditorium, The University of Mississippi campus, in Oxford.

January 16, 2003

Poetry Reading by Tom Chandler, Bondurant Hall Auditorium, The University of Mississippi campus, in Oxford.

February 6, 2003

U.S. Poet Laureate (2001-2002) Billy Collins reads from his poetry and offers commentary on his work and other matters. Bondurant Hall Auditorium, The University of Mississippi campus in Oxford.

February 17, 2003

A reading by Clifton L. Taulbert on the University of Mississippi campus in Oxford.

March 25, 2003

Poetry Reading by Andrew Hudgins, Bondurant Hall Auditorium, The University of Mississippi campus, in Oxford.

March 26-30, 2003

Seventeenth Annual Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival, New Orleans, Louisiana. For information, visit their web site at

April 10-13, 2003

Oxford Conference for the Book, Oxford, Mississippi.

July 20-25, 2003

30th Annual Faulkner & Yoknapatawpha Conference, The University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi

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 of Mississippi community, see the Ole Miss Community Calendar:

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