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Welcome to the Mississippi Writers Page Newsletter for September 12-18, 2003

In this issue:


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

1825: Lawyer, Congressman, and future Supreme Court justice L. Q. C. Lamar was born in Putnam County, Georgia. (Sept. 17)

1899: Presbyterian minister William Earl Crane was born in Yazoo City, Mississippi. (Sept. 14)

1899: English professor Richmond Pugh Bond was born in Magnolia, Mississippi. (Sept. 16)

1904: Baptist minister and theologian C. E. Autrey was born in Columbus, Mississippi. (Sept. 17)

1907: Theologian William F. Orr was born in Corinth, Mississippi. (Sept. 13)

1910: Music composer and writer Lehman Engel was born in Jackson, Mississippi. (Sept. 14)

1910: Zoology professor Osmond P. Breland was born in Decatur, Mississippi. (Sept. 17)

1919: The story “They Grind Exceedingly Small” by Ben Ames Williams appeared in the Saturday Evening Post. (Sept. 13)

1922: Newspaper columnist George Thatcher was born in Gulfport, Mississippi. (Sept. 18)

1928: Methodist minister Perry Tanksley was born near Lorman, Mississippi. (Sept. 15)

1931: Political scientist Matthew Holden, Jr., was born in Mound Bayou, Mississippi. (Sept. 12)

1933: English professor, fiction writer, and poet Kenneth Holditch was born in Ecru, Mississippi. (Sept. 18)

1934: Classics professor E. Otha Wingo was born in Booneville, Mississippi. (Sept. 17)

1937: Economist Jerolyn R. Lyle was born in Meridian, Mississippi. (Sept. 12)

1939: Larry Speakes, former journalist and deputy press secretary for U.S. President Ronald Reagan from 1981-1987, was born in Cleveland, Mississippi. (Sept. 13)

1940: Writer and civil rights activist Anne Moody, author of Coming of Age in Mississippi, was born in Wilkinson County, Mississippi. (Sept. 15)

1943: Novelist Mildred D. Taylor was born in Jackson, Mississippi. (Sept. 13)

1943: Environmental engineer Harry M. Freeman was born in Meridian, Mississippi. (Sept. 17)

1945: Editor, journalist and photographer James Dickerson was born in Greenwood, Mississippi. (Sept. 14)

1946: Fashion designer Paula Janice Johnson was born in Biloxi, Mississippi. (Sept. 12)

1946: Science fiction and fantasy writer Howard Waldrop was born in Houston, Mississippi. (Sept. 15)

1946: Legal historian Walter F. Pratt, Jr. was born in Jackson, Mississippi. (Sept. 17)

1951: William Faulkner and his wife Estelle drove their daughter Jill to Wellesley, Massachusetts, where she would enter Pine Manor Junior College. (Sept. 12)

1954: FBI officials interviewed Richard Wright in Paris about his relationship to the Communist Party when he went to renew his passport. (Sept. 16)

1957: Software developer and business professor H. Jeff Smith was born in Starkville, Mississippi. (Sept. 14)

1982: Music composer and writer Lehman Engel died of cancer in New York City. (Sept. 14)

1989: William Miller, Democratic doorkeeper for the U.S. House of Representatives from 1947 to 1976, died in Greensboro, North Carolina. (Sept. 12)

1989: Jazz musician Milt Hinton performed at the White House with the Benny Carter All-Star Quartet. (Sept. 17)

2000: Playwright and poet Beah Richards died of emphysema in Vicksburg, Mississippi. (Sept. 14)


Call for Papers: The Mississippi Encyclopedia

September 12, 2003

The Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi is compiling the Mississippi Encyclopedia, a large scholarly reference book the University Press of Mississippi plans to publish in 2006. We encourage everyone who might be interested in volunteering to write articles to contact us at or to consult our website at for information, including potential topics, about the Encyclopedia. People interested in writing or discussing articles should contact Managing Editor Andrea Finley at or 662-915-5993 or Ted Ownby at

Partners in compiling and publishing the Mississippi Encyclopedia are the Mississippi Humanities Council, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, the University Press of Mississippi, and the Center for the Study of Southern Culture. Charles Reagan Wilson is editor-in-chief, Ann Abadie and Ted Ownby are consulting editors, Andrea Finley is managing editor, and numerous scholars are serving as associate editors and as contributors.

Call for Papers: Faulkner in the 21st Century

September 8, 2003

In 1992, the English Department of Peking University, together with the Institute of American Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, held the first international conference on William Faulkner to discuss Faulkner’s sense of tragedy and history, his narrative techniques and stylistic devices, his influence on Chinese writers and issues in teaching Faulkner and translating his works into Chinese. In 1997, in commemoration of his centennial, the second international conference was co-sponsored by the English Department of Peking University, the English Department of Hong Kong Baptist University, and the American Studies Center at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Partly funded by the D.C.Lam East-West Center of Hong Kong Baptist University, the proceedings, William Faulkner: Achievement and Endurance, was published by Peking University Press in 1998. The two conferences had positive effect on the teaching and study of Faulkner in China.

With the coming of the new century, will Faulkner continue to keep his place in the history of American and world literature? Will his themes continue to touch the souls of the readers and open their eyes to reality? Will his techniques continue to fascinate the readers and influence a new generation of writers? Are the “new” theories and critical methodologies that have now become prevalent helpful in understanding or in discovering new meanings or new values of his work? Are the “old” theories outdated and valid no more? Have we found new ways in teaching him or in bringing him to more readers in China?

To explore these questions and to promote the study of Faulkner from all perspectives, the English department of Peking University and the Center for the Study of Humanism of Sichuan International Studies University will hold a Third International Conference on William Faulkner toward the end of May 2004. The theme of the conference is “Faulkner in the 21st Century.” The conference will be held at Sichuan International Studies University in Chongqing, a municipality directly under the control of the Central Government, which is located on the Yangtse River and is well known for its beautiful scenery. The working languages are both English and Chinese. Any one who is interested is to hand in a one-page abstract by the end of November, 2003 and the complete text by the end of March 2004 to Li Ling by mail, fax, or e-mail.

Mail address: Ms Li Ling, Center for the Study of Foreign Languages and Literatures, Sichuan International Studies University, Chongqing, China
Fax (Phone) number: 011-86-23-65385080
E-mail address: or

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

NEW BOOKS by Mississippi Writers

They Write Among Us: New Stories and Essays from the Best of Oxford WritersThey 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 FactoryThe 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.


AUTHOR EVENTS: Book Signings, Readings, and Appearances

September 16: Square Books, Oxford, Mississippi

Larry Brown signs and reads from his unusual, new novel, The Rabbit Factory. For more information, visit

If you know of upcoming literary events by or about 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.

October 16, 2003

Elmore Leonard, author of more than 30 novels (including Bandits, Get Shorty, and Tishomingo Blues), numerous film and television productions, essays and commentaries, will read and talk about his career. For more information on Leonard, visit Elmore Leonard’s new book, When the Women Come Out to Dance, is to be published in November 2003. Johnson Commons Ballroom, The University of Mississippi, 7 p.m. Sponsored by the John and Renee Grisham Visiting Writers Series and the Department of English at the University of Mississippi.

February 12, 2004

Reading and lecture by Richard Ford. Johnson Commons Ballroom, The University of Mississippi, 7 p.m. Sponsored by the John and Renee Grisham Visiting Writers Series and the Department of English at the University of 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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