BOOKLINK

Mississippi Books and Writers

2001

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

Blood Lure Blood Lure

A novel by Nevada Barr

Putnam (Hardcover, $24.95, ISBN: 0399147020)

Publication date: January 2001

Description from Publishers Weekly:

The latest entry in this excellent series featuring National Park Service ranger Anna Pigeon is one of Barr’s best. Anna has been assigned to work temporarily in Montana’s Glacier National Park, where she seems more at home than in her recent forays to East Coast parks, and learns how to do DNA studies on wildlife by working with a biologist, Joan, on a study of grizzly bears. Anna, Joan and a young, inexperienced volunteer, Rory, are sent out into the park’s wilderness areas to set lures for the grizzlies. They use a powerful and nasty-smelling concoction, mixed with cow’s blood, that the grizzlies find irresistible. Once the bears rub up against the trees or barbed wire that have been coated with the lure, samples of their DNA can be collected from the hair and skin left behind. In their remote campsite one night, Anna and Joan amazingly survive a grizzly bear attack on their tents unscathed, only to find that Rory has gone missing. As park rangers and rescue teams hike the mountainous park looking for the missing teenager, they find instead the dead body of a woman whose face has been horribly mutilated. Rory is an obvious suspect, as is the bear who attacked the camp. Barr focuses on the wilderness park and its endangered population of grizzlies rather than on Anna’s personal life and problems, and this makes for a tightly plotted, satisfying read. The author’s masterful descriptions of the natural world immeasurably enhance an exciting, suspenseful story that is sure to flirt with bestseller lists. Mystery Guild main selection and Literary Guild alternate selection. Copyright © 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

By Mildred D. Taylor

Phyllis Fogelman Books (Hardcover, $17.99, ISBN: 0803726473)

Publication date: January 2001 (25th anniversary edition)

Description:

In all Mildred D. Taylor’s unforgettable novels she recounts “not only the joy of growing up in a large and supportive family, but my own feelings of being faced with segregation and bigotry.” Her Newbery Medal-winning Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry tells the story of one African American family, fighting to stay together and strong in the face of brutal racist attacks, illness, poverty, and betrayal in the Deep South of the 1930s. Nine-year-old Cassie Logan, growing up protected by her loving family, has never had reason to suspect that any white person could consider her inferior or wish her harm. But during the course of one devastating year when her community begins to be ripped apart by angry night riders threatening African Americans, she and her three brothers come to understand why the land they own means so much to their Papa. “Look out there, Cassie girl. All that belongs to you. You ain’t never had to live on nobody’s place but your own and long as I live and the family survives, you’ll never have to. That’s important. You may not understand that now but one day you will. Then you’ll see.”

Twenty-five years after it was first published, this special anniversary edition of the classic strikes as deep and powerful a note as ever. Taylor’s vivid portrayal of ugly racism and the poignancy of Cassie’s bewilderment and gradual toughening against social injustice and the men and women who perpetuate it, will remain with readers forever. Two award-winning sequels, Let the Circle Be Unbroken and The Road to Memphis, and a long-awaited prequel, The Land, continue the profoundly moving tale of the Logan family. (Ages 9 and older) —Emilie Coulter

The South and the Caribbean: Essays and Commentaries The South and the Caribbean: Essays and Commentaries

Edited by Douglass Sullivan-González and Charles Reagan Wilson

University Press of Mississippi (Hardcover; $35.00; ISBN: 1578063124)

Publication date: January 2001

Description from the publisher:

The first comprehensive study of the close ties between the American South and the Caribbean.

With the trade of sugar, rum, and African slaves in the islands that form a perimeter around the Gulf of Mexico, the broad expanse of water known as the Caribbean ringed what came to be known as the South.

Today concise political boundaries separate the coasts of the American South from the multicultural worlds that dominate the islands. Yet all anecdotal evidence suggests far greater ties. One listens to the reggae in the streets of New Orleans or to the rumba in Atlanta. One notes the moans of the blues in the cafes of Veracruz and watches Major League games in which young Dominican athletes hurling lightning-fast balls become national heroes on their island homeland beset by political and economic woes.

Do these human links suggest a greater regionalism than was previously acknowledged? This exciting study of two discrete yet kindred areas gives an affirmative answer. It comes to terms with what many have considered distinct yet fluctuating boundaries that separate and bond southern peoples.

These papers from the Chancellor’s Symposium at the University of Mississippi in 1998 focus on and examine the strong connections. Geographer Bonham C. Richardson analyzes the territory as a cultural region “with Little Rock at the northwest corner and French Guiana at the southeast that also includes the eastern rim of Central America as well as the Bahamas.” Other contributors explore the creative cultures that emerged when a brutal European economy enslaved Africans for labor. The essays also examine the economic connections that have created such dissimilar and lasting legacies as the plantation system and the love of baseball.

The South and the Caribbean flow into each other culturally, economically, and socially. These papers and their commentaries suggest that future study of these regions must deal with them together in order to understand each. The merging of the two through music, dance, language, sports, and political aspiration—all discussed in this book—serves to give birth to a New South and a New Caribbean.

At the University of Mississippi, Douglass Sullivan-González is an associate professor of history and Charles Reagan Wilson is the director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture.

Deep South Deep South

A novel by Nevada Barr

Berkley (Paperback, $6.99, ISBN: 0425178951)

Publication date: February 2001

Description from Kirkus Reviews :

Though she loves her varied postings as a National Park Service ranger (Liberty Falling, 1999, etc.) and hates administration, Anna Pigeon’s not getting any younger or richer, so she puts in for promotion, and next thing she knows shes driving hell-for-leather alongside Mississippi mud and alligators en route to her posting as district ranger of the Port Gibson District. The area is fabulously fertile (new weeds spring from dead trees before their last leaves have fallen), obsessed with the past (Anna stumbles on a group of Civil War reenactors soon after her arrival), and about to become the site of an ugly murder (a prom queen is found bashed to death draped in a sheet, her neck in a noose that can’t help reminding Anna of the KKK the locals assure her is long dormant). As always in this rewarding series, the people, from Anna’s slyly insubordinate subordinates to a local sheriff who just happens to be an Episcopal priest, walk and talk and break the law with memorable authority, and Barr paints Port Gibson and its environs, natural and man-made and -unmade, in vivid strokes. But her decision to treat all rural Mississippi as Anna’s bailiwick, instead of concentrating on the individuality of one of the national parks Annas worked so brilliantly in the past, gilds the place a little too thickly with cultural mythsas if all Dixie were a biosphere for endangered species and lays bare the contrivances of her ingenious plot. Still, Barr’s many fans, eager to see her take on every federal property in the nation, will treasure her atmospheric presentation of Mississippi as the country’s biggest little town. —Copyright ©2000, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

A Painted House A Painted House

A novel by John Grisham

Doubleday (Hardcover, $27.95, ISBN: 038550120X)

Publication date: February 2001

Description from Booklist:

For preternaturally prescient Lucas Chandler, the year 1952 is full of secrets—sweet, tragic, and mysterious. At 7, he still sleeps under the bed when he’s scared and disappears behind his mother’s skirts from time to time. But he’s old enough to understand that prejudice, class rivalry (townies paint their houses; farmers don’t), and violence are part of the fabric of his outwardly quiet farming community, and that he shouldn’t be watching an unmarried teen give birth or pretty 17-year-old Tally bathing in the creek (even if she says it’s okay). He also realizes that by confessing he’s witnessed two vicious killings, he’ll be threatening his family’s livelihood and putting his loved ones in danger. Abandoning the political and courtroom venues of his popular thrillers, Grisham calls up the cotton fields of his native Arkansas for this somewhat unfocused coming-of-age story, which lacks the punch and cleverness of his other fiction. The characters rarely get beyond stereotypes (especially the Mexican migrant workers), even with respect to the 1950s bucolic setting, and narrator Lucas sounds far more like a 12-year-old than a second-grader. The measured, descriptive prose is readable, to be sure, and there are some truly tender moments, but this is surface without substance, simply an adequate effort in a genre that has exploded with quality over the last several years. —Stephanie Zvirin. Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved.

Deep Sleep Deep Sleep

A Novel by Charles Wilson

St. Martin’s Press (Hardcover, $24.95, ISBN: 0312266960)

Publication date: February 2001

Description from Publishers Weekly:

Murder, migraines and mambos mix messily in this latest from veteran thriller writer Wilson (Extinct; Direct Descendant). At the South Louisiana Sleep Disorders Institute, a young woman lies strangled while obese accountant Henry Womack, another patient, has disappeared into the bayou. Nearby, the parents of a celebrated local freak named Boudron are found butchered, and Boudron is discovered hiding behind a screen of voodoo amulets.

Enter Mark French, a deputy just back on duty after a three-year hiatus following his botched attempt to rescue three hostages from a crazed gunman in New Orleans. Spooked by offers of help from the blatantly sinister institute head, Shasha Dominique, a secret voodoo priestess, Mark and his colleagues vacillate between fingering the one-armed Boudron and the plainly zombified Womack. But when Womack and Boudron both turn up dead, it’s clear that the bad guys are still on the prowl, even with a surfeit of good guys trying to apprehend them—including Mark’s love interest, forensic psychologist Kelly Dalton. Someone is evidently manipulating the institute’s so-called “lucid dreaming” technique to persuade innocents to carry out crimes through hypnotic suggestion.

To the author’s credit, there are one or two unforeseen twists to the otherwise humdrum plot. By the time its dastardly dynamic is exposed, however, most readers will long since have lost interest. Cut-up paragraphs and touristy descriptions of voodoo practices litter the pages without much pattern, and the prose ranges from wooden to downright leaden. —Copyright © 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

The New Wolves The New Wolves: The Return of the Mexican Wolf to the American Southwest

Nonfiction by Rick Bass

Lyons Press (Paperback, $14.95, ISBN: 1585742651)

Publication date: March 2001

Description from Book List:

“I’d rather try to protect an undesignated wilderness area … than spend energy on lobbying for the return of some single species,” Bass declares, describing plans for the release of nearly a dozen Mexican wolves (lobos) in the Blue Mountains of Arizona. Concern for the larger ecosystem is clear as Bass scans the overgrazed Arizona environment, scientists’ efforts to ready wolves raised in captivity for the wild, and the positions of ranchers and environmentalists. Here, as in The Ninemile Wolves (1992) and The Sky, the Stars, the Wilderness, Bass’ involving descriptions of the lobos and their home in the mountains explain the interaction between species preservation and ecological recovery. Committed as this skilled nature writer is to restoration of the wilderness and endangered species, he urges attention to broader issues: “We must take care of the wolves and yet concern ourselves, too, with the rest of the system … without compromising our beliefs and values.” —Mary Carroll.

Colter: The True Story of the Best Dog I Ever Had

Nonfiction by Rick Bass

Large Print Edition

G.K. Hall (Hardcover, $28.95, ISBN: 0786231025)

Publication date: March 2001

Description:

Colter was the runt of the litter, and Rick Bass took him only because nobody else would. Soon, though, Bass realized he had a raging genius on his hands, and he raided his daughters’ college fund to send Colter to the best schools. Colter could be a champion, Rick was told, but he’d have to be broken, slowed down. Rick “could no more imagine a slowing-down Colter than a slow-motion bolt of lightning in the sky,” and instead of breaking Colter he followed him. Colter led him into new territory, an unexplored land where he felt more alive, more intimately connected to the world, than he’d ever been before. In the course of telling us Colter’s story, Rick Bass also tells us of his childhood fascination with snapping turtles and dirt, and of the other animals—including people—that have shaped his life. Colter is an interspecies love story that vividly captures the relationship between humans and dogs. Like all of Bass’s work, it is passionate, poetic, and original.

Nevada Barr Presents Malice Domestic 10: An Anthology of Original Traditional Mystery Stories Nevada Barr Presents Malice Domestic 10: An Anthology of Original Traditional Mystery Stories

A short story anthology edited by Nevada Barr

Avon (Paperback, $5.99, ISBN: 0380804840)

Publication date: March 2001

Description:

Clue into a world of murder and mayhem from the ingenious minds of today’s most fiendishly clever mystery writers: K.K. Beck, Simon Brett, Susan Dunlap, Carolyn Hart, Melodie Johnson Howe, M.D. Lake, Martha C. Lawrence, Peter Lovesey, Margaret Maron, Sujata Massey, Katherine Hall Page, Anne Perry, Nancy Pickard, and Elizabeth Daniels Squire.

The Cassandra Prophecy

A Novel by Charles Wilson

Graystone Publishing (Paperback, $13.95, ISBN: 0966307895)

Publication date: March 2001

Description from Kirkus Reviews:

Secret Service agent Clay Rodgers, returning to Biloxi after his brother is killed aboard the family yacht Cassandra, can’t imagine what anyone had against inoffensive Robert—until traces of drugs aboard the boat link him to possible drug-dealing by his former employer, Cajun strip-joint king Antonio Brouchard, and a well-organized Vietnamese smuggling ring determined to kill off any informants interested in the reward Clay’s advertised. As Clay resumes his guilty affair with Robert’s former high-school girlfriend Linda, the obvious suspects cop pleas to lesser crimes—narcotics, assault, etc.—leaving one last ugly secret. Routine enough until the last 50 pages, when a rapid series of stings reminds you how surely Wilson juggled suspects and motives in Nightwatcher (1990). An author to watch. —Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Eudora Welty & PoliticsEudora Welty and Politics: Did the Writer Crusade?

Edited by Harriet Pollack and Suzanne Marrs

Louisiana State University Press (Hardcover, $39.95, ISBN: 0807126187)

Publication date: March 2001

Jesus and the Sweet Pilgrim Baptist Church Jesus and the Sweet Pilgrim Baptist Church: A Fable

By Clayton Sullivan

Reprint edition; first published 1992

University Press of Mississippi (Paperback, $15.00, ISBN: 1578063329)

Publication date: April 2002

Description from the publisher:

A Mississippi fable of divine visitation, jealousy, murder, and salvation.

For a long time nothing much has changed for the poor black congregation of the Sweet Pilgrim Baptist Church of Clearwater, Mississippi. Eastertime has dutifully rolled around again. The azaleas are in bloom.

And then off in the distance comes a wondrous music—a music that thunders throughout the sky with sweet majesty. It brings in its trail a celestial cloud and signals a heavenly visit: Jesus and Simon Peter have come to town. But they are women. Jewish women—well dressed and built like runway models, to be exact. “At times I’ve come to earth in the form of a man. But this time I’ve come as a woman. Is something wrong with me appearing as a woman?” Ms. Jesus asks the surprised churchgoers.

In short order, this unexpected turn of events becomes the norm. Jesus and Simon Peter drink chablis with the locals; arrange for oil drilling on black families’ tiny lots; make some folks rich and a few bitterly envious; get caught up in civil rights matters; and figure in a suspense-filled series of events that bring joy and prosperity, hatred and murder, and, as a final surprise, redemption.

When Clayton Sullivan first published Jesus and the Sweet Pilgrim Baptist Church with Doubleday in 1992, many sang his little fable’s praises. Morgan Freeman called the book “A delightful, if reverent, romp up and down the aisles of a Mississippi Baptist congregation. Fun!”

Eugenia Price said, “That Jesus the Carpenter of Nazareth was the Son of God occurred to almost no one until coarse and uncouth people as well as legalistic, brainy, religious types began to see Him live, act and speak in a way unlike anyone else. Whether they spoke in vulgarities or in pious-sounding platitudes, people were taken off guard by the fact that He was a common workman, homeless, lived simply—even crudely—did and said startling, unorthodox things that shook people to their roots, as in Clayton Sullivan’s remarkable fable, Jesus and the Sweet Pilgrim Baptist Church. This is a fable. No one is claiming that Jesus might come again as a well-dressed Jewish woman. So, put aside your prejudices and read it. The Gospel is here in all its simple, shining power.”

Clayton Sullivan is a retired Baptist minister living in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He is a professor emeritus of philosophy and religion at the University of Southern Mississippi.

The Good Fight: How World War II Was Won The Good Fight: How World War II Was Won

Juvenile Nonfiction by Stephen E. Ambrose

Atheneum (Hardcover, $19.95, ISBN: 0689843615)

Publication date: April 2001

Description:

Stephen E. Ambrose, one of the finest historians of our time, has written an extraordinary chronicle of World War II for young readers. From Japanese warplanes soaring over Pearl Harbor, dropping devastation from the sky, to the against-all-odds Allied victory at Midway, to the Battle of the Bulge during one of the coldest winters in Europe’s modern history, to the tormenting decision to bomb Nagasaki and Hiroshima with atomic weapons, The Good Fight brings the most horrific—and most heroic—war in history to a new generation in a way that’s never been done before.

In addition to Ambrose’s accounts of major events during the war, personal anecdotes from the soldiers who were fighting on the battlefields, manning the planes, commanding the ships—stories of human triumph and tragedy—bring the war vividly to life.

Highlighting Ambrose’s narrative are spectacular color and black-and-white photos, and key campaign and battlefield maps. Stephen E. Ambrose’s singular ability to take complex and multifaceted information and get right to its essence makes The Good Fight the book on World War II for kids.

Billy Ray's Farm Fay

A Novel by Larry Brown

Scribner’s (Paperback, $14.00, ISBN: 0743205383)

Publication date: April 2001

Description from Kirkus Reviews:

The search for love and family has seldom been portrayed with such harsh realism as in this almost literally stunning fourth novel by the highly acclaimed Mississippi author. Brown’s first substantial female protagonist, Fay Jones, is a 17-year-old virginal beauty who runs away from her mean and drunken father and impoverished family (migrant workers camped near Oxford, Mississippi) in a vividly detailed opening sequence that recalls the beginning of Faulkner’s classic Light in August. Fay is a complete innocent, can scarcely read, has never seen a movie or used a pay phone. State trooper Sam Harris finds her hitchhiking and brings her home, where his wife Amy (still grieving over the accidental death of their teenaged daughter) essentially adopts her. But a chain of bizarre coincidences ends this idyllic family relationship, and Fay is soon on the road again, now pregnant, and easy prey (as she moves south, to Biloxi) for a hard-bitten waitress who pushes her toward stripping, then for easygoing Aaron Forrest, who turns out to be an unstable drug dealer.

The story builds terrific momentum as things continue to go hopelessly wrong for Fay. She leaves Aaron, attempting to return to Sam, and the three converge in a skillfully deployed and violent finale that confirms Brown’s close kinship both with crime novelist Jim Thompson and with that underrated master of literate southern melodrama, Erskine Caldwell. The novel is probably too long, and it goes egregiously over the top at least once (in depicting an airplane pilot’s fate). But it’s filled with spare, precise, musical, observantly detailed prose and hair-raising extended scenes (an account of the effort to rescue a gas-truck driver from a flaming wreck is a piece of action writing few contemporary authors could match). Fay herself is an intensely real character, and Brown (Father and Son, 1996, etc.) tells her lurid, sorrowful story magnificently. Close to a masterpiece. —Copyright ©2000, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

 

Billy Ray's Farm Billy Ray’s Farm: Essays

Nonfiction by Larry Brown

Algonquin Books (Hardcover, $22.95, ISBN: 1565121678)

Publication date: April 2001

Description from Publishers Weekly:

Celebrated for depicting the dark, seamy side of Southern life, Mississippi novelist Brown (Fay; Father and Son) turns to sunnier topics in this loose-jointed collection of essays paying tribute to the people and places that influenced his writing. The title piece, a rueful reflection on son Billy Ray’s persistent bad luck with cattle, sets the tone: despite dead calves, misbehaving bulls, rampaging coyotes and dilapidated fences, father and son remain optimistic. “Billy Ray’s farm does not yet exist on an earthly plane,” writes Brown. “On Billy Ray’s farm there will be total harmony, wooden fence rows straight as a plumb line, clean, with no weeds, no rusted barbed wire.” As Brown details his own efforts to impose harmony on his farm by building a house (“Shack”), protecting his stock from predators (“Goatsongs”), clearing brush and stocking fish (“By the Pond”), he balances pastoral odes with a clear-eyed accounting of the costs of country living. That realism gives Brown’s narratives a plainspoken truth that makes more believable the simple pleasures he takes in these simple tasks. The writer’s home life in Oxford, Miss., is more compelling than his chronicles of book tours and writers conferences (“The Whore in Me”), but the latter is kept to a minimum. More successful are the tributes to literary mentors Harry Crews and Madison Jones and to the men who taught him “the fine points of guns and dogs” after his father’s death, when Brown was 16. These humble personal essays, which provide a glimpse at the long apprenticeship of a writer who came up the hard way, leave the reader hoping Brown will soon tackle a full-blown autobiography.

Taps Taps

Fiction by Willie Morris

Houghton Mifflin (Hardcover, $26.00, ISBN: 0618098593)

Publication date: April 2001

Description from Booklist:

Morris died in 1999, and it’s hard to accept that this is his last book. The gritty but poignant writings of the Mississippian who served as editor at Harper’s in the 1960s have included a book about his childhood dog and one about his cat, but most famously, North Toward Home (1967), in which he recalled the South of his childhood. Taps is a summary statement of Morris’ fondness for the Mississippi where he came of age, and as such, the novel reads like a memoir of childhood and youth. The main character is Swayze Barksdale, who, at age 16, is busy gathering impressions of the adult world at a time when the Korean War is waging. A trumpet player, Swayze has plenty of opportunity to observe those around him when he plays “Taps” at the funerals of deceased hometown GIs. Swayze has a best friend, who teaches him about companionship; he has a girlfriend, who teaches him about early love and sexuality; and he has an adult friend, whose life and death teach Swayze the ultimate lessons in love and loss. Plotlines are kept to a minimum; this is a novel of characters rather than story, and what delicious, real, and beautifully conceived characters they are. Times were simpler in the 1950s, but this is not a simple novel. It’s a deep and enriching last act for the delightful Willie Morris. —Brad Hooper Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Edge of Victory I: Conquest Edge of Victory I: Conquest

By Greg Keyes

Star Wars: The New Jedi Order, Book 7

Del Rey (Paperback, $6.99, ISBN: 0345428641)

Publication date: April 2001

Description:

The dazzling Star Wars space adventure continues in The New Jedi Order as Luke Skywalker, Anakin Solo, Mara Jade Skywalker, and others battle their deadliest enemy in a tale of nonstop action, shadowy evil, and spectacular triumph.

No longer content with the destruction the Yuuzhan Vong have already sown, Warmaster Tsavong Lah has demanded the heads of all the Jedi. Now the Jedi Knights are in terrible danger–and none more so than the young students at the Jedi academy on Yavin 4. Already the sympathizers known as the Peace Brigade are in the Yavin system—and a Yuuzhan Vong fleet is not far behind.

At Luke Skywalker’s request, Talon Karrde mounts an expedition to rescue the young students. Anakin Solo has his own ideas. Impatient, and figuring that forgiveness is easier to come by than permission, he takes off for Yavin 4 in his X-wing.

When it comes to confidence, courage, and raw Force talent, Anakin has few peers. But when his friend Tahiri is separated from the other academy kids and captured by the Yuuzhan Vong, even Anakin may be in over his head. For the aliens have a different future in mind for Tahiri, and they will stop at nothing to achieve their horrific ends….

Double Down: Reflections on Gambling and Loss Double Down: Reflections on Gambling and Loss

Nonfiction by Frederick Barthelme and Steven Barthelme

Houghton Mifflin (Paperback, $13.00, ISBN: 0156010704)

Publication date: May 2001

Description from Kirkus Reviews:

Neither Frederick (Bob the Gambler, 1997, etc.) nor Steven (And He Tells the Little Horse the Whole Story, 1987, not reviewed) has tried his hand at an extended work of nonfiction before, but this grim tale of compulsive gambling and personal disaster should present no problems apart from the ones built into their subject. Rick (as Frederick is called) and Steve were transplanted Houstonians, now teaching writing at Southern Mississippi, when they discovered the casinos moored in the Mississippi [Sound] in Gulfport, an hour’s drive from them. The sons of an eccentric but highly regarded architect and a former schoolteacher and actress, they plunged into the timeless, neon world of the casino with abandon. When the death of their parents brought them a substantial inheritance, they began to gamble with a feverishness that resulted in their loss of over a quarter of a million dollars over some two years. In the end, they found themselves indicted on charges of conspiracy to defraud their regular casino, allegedly in cahoots with a dealer they barely knew. The memoir that results from this spiraling journey into darkness is strange in the extreme. Although neither of the authors denies he has a serious problem, their narrative all too often reads like the series of rationalizations a compulsive gambler gives before he runs out of excuses. Rick and Steve describe a sort of sealing off of emotion as a family trait, one that became a dangerous safety valve in the casinos, where their studied uncaring made it possible to withstand the batterings of repeated loss. Regrettably, that sealing off comes into play in their own writing, giving it an eerily disembodied quality that makes for depressing reading far beyond the darkness of the subject matter. A queasy, uneasy mixture uniting confessional autobiography with arch literary navel gazing. (16 b&w photos)

Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

The Year of Jubilo: A Novel of the Civil War The Year of Jubilo: A Novel of the Civil War

Fiction By Howard Bahr

Picador (Paperback; $14.00, ISBN: 0312280696)

Publication date: May 2001

Description from Kirkus Reviews:

A brilliantly woven Civil War story about the “jubilant” year (1865) following the supposed cessation of hostilities, from the author of the highly praised (and rather similar) debut novel The Black Flower (1997). The latter unfortunately all but drowned in the wake of the spectacular success enjoyed by Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain. This time around, Bahr ought to nab the hosannas and prizes, for he has produced a stunningly imagined and lyrically written chronicle of the return home (to war-ravaged Cumberland, Mississippi) of Gawain Harper, a former schoolteacher (and an Arthurian seeker) who had reluctantly enlisted as an infantryman in the Confederate Army, in order to earn permission to marry his sweetheart, widowed Morgan Rhea. Morgan’s father, devout secessionist Judge Nathaniel Rhea, had demanded that all Southerners do their duty. Having done so, Gawain returns to find his own family decimated, the Rheas dispossessed and powerless, and to learn that the Judge has set him another task: to kill “King Solomon” Gault, a rabid white supremacist (“the gentleman farms without niggers”) and self-anointed leader of the vigilante rangers who had murdered Morgan’s sister and her husband, a Union sympathizer. But this is only prelude to a thrillingly articulated tragic romance that tells several convoluted stories, artfully juxtaposed, and creates a remarkably vivid cast, including Gawain’s fellow survivor, Harry Stribling, self-proclaimed “philosopher” and ironical observer of the South’s stubborn vision of its own “chivalry”; imperious, passionate Morgan and Gawain’s flinty Aunt Vassartwo of the strongest female characters in the whole range of historical fiction; Union Army officer Michael Burduck, haunted and driven by his memories of slavery’s horrors; hideously deformed, obsessed slave- catcher Molochi Fish; and the aforementioned Gault, an avenging demon whose thirst for slaughter precipitates a harrowing climax. The shadow of Faulkner looms over an intricate webwork of festering secrets, conflicting passions, and ancestral guilt. No matter. The Year of Jubilo is a triumphant giant step forward for Bahr.

Copyright © 2000 Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Islands, Women, and God: Stories

Fiction By Paul Ruffin

Browder Springs Press (Hardcover; ISBN: 0965135985)

Publication date: May 2001

Description:

Empire of Unreason Empire of Unreason

By J. Gregory Keyes

The Age of Unreason, Book 3

Del Rey (Paperback, $6.99, ISBN: 0345406109)

Publication date: May 2001

Description from Booklist:

In Keyes’ alternate-universe fantasy, The Age of Unreason, of which this is the third but not necessarily last book, Sir Isaac Newton discovered the rules of alchemy instead of the laws of nature, thereby releasing a flood of dark magic. Now, Indian and European armies are locked in a deadly struggle in North America. In Europe, intrigues abound, and palace revolutions seem to happen every Thursday, not all of them well enough developed by Keyes to enable readers to tell them apart. Evil angels hover over human folly, and behind everything lurk the perverse and powerful demons, the Malekin.

Keyes still is master of the details that make much of this universe believable, and the amount of action definitely makes the book exciting. But his gifts aren’t deployed to also make this book intelligible to those who haven’t read its predecessors, Newton’s Cannon (1998) and A Calculus of Angels (1999). On the other hand, they shouldn’t feel put upon to go back to the beginning. They won’t regret doing so.

—Roland Green. Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved.

Dead Until Dark Dead Until Dark

By Charlaine Harris

Book 1of The Southern Vampires Series

Ace Books (Paperback, $5.99, ISBN: 0441008534)

Publication date: May 2001

Description from the publisher:

Sookie Stackhouse is just a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. Until the vampire of her dreams walks into her life—and one of her coworkers checks out….

Maybe having a vampire for a boyfriend isn’t such a bright idea.

Visible SpiritsVisible Spirits: A Novel

By Steve Yarbrough

Knopf (Hardcover, $23.00, ISBN: 0375411593)

Publication date: May 2001

Description from Publishers Weekly:

The South depicted in Steve Yarbrough’s haunting new novel irresistibly calls to mind Yeats’s famous lines, “the best lack all conviction, while the worst / are full of passionate intensity.” The best and worst, in this case, are brothers who, despite their common upbringing, are diametrically opposed on issues of race. Tandy Payne, who returns to Loring, Miss., in the early 20th century after squandering his inheritance on gambling, whores and liquor, has absorbed all the hypocrisy and racism of the old South. Loring’s mayor, Tandy’s brother, Leighton, stands 6'5", harbors liberal opinions and is handicapped by a perpetual awkwardness. He runs Loring’s newspaper and uses it as a platform for moderation.

Yarbrough divides his story between the Payne siblings and Seaborn and Loda Jackson, who are black. Loda is the town’s postmistress, the only African-American in the state with a government appointment. Tandy covets her job, and he decides to steal it by starting a race-baiting campaign, claiming Loda encouraged a black laborer to behave insolently. To prevent conflict, Loda resigns, but Theodore Roosevelt’s administration decides to make a civil rights stand by not accepting her resignation. In the escalating dispute, Leighton becomes a pariah for siding with Loda.

Connecting Loda, Tandy and Leighton is their common father, Sam, a plantation owner who massacred a group of black men and women who tried to escape the Delta in the 1880s. Based on a real 1902 incident, Yarborough’s sad, elegantly wrought story proceeds like a mesmerizing lesson in the skewed logic of violence, and it builds to a powerful ending, a tragic testament to the dark heritage haunting the South. Yarbrough, who earned critical kudos with The Oxygen Man, has again written a novel that resonates with understanding and compassion.

While his subject matter is somber, Yarbrough’s restrained narrative pulls the reader into its time and place with beautifully calibrated suspense. Critical recognition that he’s a writer to watch should bring attention to this novel.

—Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Colter: The True Story of the Best Dog I Ever Had Colter: The True Story of the Best Dog I Ever Had

Nonfiction by Rick Bass

Mariner (Hardcover, $10.00, ISBN: 0618127364)

Publication date: June 2001

Description:

Colter was the runt of the litter, and Rick Bass took him only because nobody else would. Soon, though, Bass realized he had a raging genius on his hands, and he raided his daughters’ college fund to send Colter to the best schools. Colter could be a champion, Rick was told, but he’d have to be broken, slowed down. Rick “could no more imagine a slowing-down Colter than a slow-motion bolt of lightning in the sky,” and instead of breaking Colter he followed him. Colter led him into new territory, an unexplored land where he felt more alive, more intimately connected to the world, than he’d ever been before. In the course of telling us Colter’s story, Rick Bass also tells us of his childhood fascination with snapping turtles and dirt, and of the other animals—including people—that have shaped his life. Colter is an interspecies love story that vividly captures the relationship between humans and dogs. Like all of Bass’s work, it is passionate, poetic, and original.

Collected Works: Volume II, 1990-1999

Plays by Beth Henley

Smith & Kraus (Hardcover, $35.00, ISBN: 1575252007)

Publication date: June 2001

Description:

This collection includes the plays Control Freaks, Signature, The Revelers, L. Play, Abundance, and Impossible Marriage.

24 Hours

A Novel by Greg Iles

Signet (Paperback, $7.99, ISBN: 0451203593)

Publication date: July 2001

Description from Kirkus Reviews:

A tepid thriller from bestselling Iles (The Quiet Game, 1999, etc.) in which an upscale family falls victim to a not-so-typical kidnapping masterminded by a psychopath with more than money on his mind. Dr. Will Jennings is on his way from Mississippi to a medical meeting in New Orleans, leaving behind his loving, if somewhat resentful, wife Karen, who quit medical school when she became pregnant, and their precious, precocious five-year-old daughter, Abby. Life is a mixed bag for the doctor. He’s flying his own plane to the convention where he’s presenting a breakthrough anesthesia drug that could make him a very wealthy man. But he suffers from debilitating arthritis, and Abby is a juvenile diabetic who requires insulin injections. The whole house of cards comes tumbling down when the child is snatched by kidnapper extraordinaire Joe Hickey, assisted by his abused spouse, a former drug-addicted lap dancer, and his devoted, mentally challenged, 300-pound cousin Huey. The devious trio’s carefully orchestrated plan, which they’ve refined over five previous capers, divides the story into three scenarios, each redneck villain paired with a member of the genteel Jennings family. Hickey’s motto, “The kid always makes it,” is endangered by Abby’s insulin needs, the Type-A personalities of the Jennings clan, and the search for revenge. Should Will call in the authorities? Should he and Karen submit to the kidnappers’ bizarre personal demands? How far will they go to save their daughter and still keep their self-respect? And by the way, have they missed the truly important things in life? The clever plot generates some heat, but veteran Iles’s clunky prose (“Hickey’s words cut to the bone, but something more terrible struck Will like a hammer”), hackneyed psychological “insights,” and tedious medical details send this thriller into a tailspin. Literary Guild/Doubleday Book Club alternate selection. —Copyright © 2000 Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Dead Sleep Dead Sleep

A Novel by Greg Iles

Putnam (Hardcover, $19.95, ISBN: 0399147357)

Publication date: July 2001

Description:

With five novels, Greg Iles has proven himself one of the most talented and versatile thriller writers at work today. Critics hailed 24 Hours as “diabolical” (People), “ingenious” (London Times), “masterfully written” (New Orleans Times-Picayune), and “brilliantly plotted bone-chilling suspense” (Publishers Weekly). In Dead Sleep, Iles gives us his most intricate and emotionally resonant story ever.

Jordan Glass, a photojournalist on a well-earned vacation, wanders into a Hong Kong art museum and is puzzled to find fellow patrons eyeing her with curiosity. Minutes later, she stumbles upon a gallery containing a one-artist exhibition called “The Sleeping Women,” a mysterious series of paintings that has caused a sensation in the world of modern art. Collectors have come to believe that the canvases depict female nudes not in sleep but in death, and they command millions at auction. When Jordan approaches the last work in the series, she freezes. The face in the painting seems to be her own.

This unsettling event hurls her back into a nightmare she has fought desperately to put behind her—for, in fact, the face in the painting belongs not to Jordan but to her twin sister, murdered one year ago. At the urging of the FBI, Jordan becomes both hunter and hunted in a duel with the anonymous artist, a gifted murderer who knows the secret history of Jordan’s family, and truths that even she has never had the courage to face.

New Orleans Style New Orleans Style

A Novel by Shirley Jean Johnson

Writers Club Press (Paperback, $13.95, ISBN: 0595188117)

Publication date: July 2001

Description:

New Orleans Style tells the tale of a young woman lost and her children’s fast-paced lives in New Orleans, making their own destiny.

When a young white woman is attacked and left for dead, the older black woman who finds her becomes her guardian angel. It is she who raises the women’s twin newborns; one dark and one very light skinned. Their journey through the streets and culture of New Orleans is met with occurrences good and very bad. One that is so evil, everyone’s life is changed by it. When Vicy and her brother Tori vow revenge, it becomes a life-long endeavor, one that makes them very rich and very powerful; not only in New Orleans but all over the world!

Edge of Victory II: Rebirth Edge of Victory II: Rebirth

By Greg Keyes

Star Wars: The New Jedi Order, Book 8

Ballantine (Paperback, $6.99, ISBN: 0345446100)

Publication date: July 2001

Description:

The Star Wars epic continues its dazzling space odyssey in The New Jedi Order—as Luke and Mara, Leia and Han, and others battle the mighty enemy from beyond the galactic rim.

The brutal Yuuzhan Vong are scouring the universe for Jedi to slaughter. With no help from the divided New Republic, the Jedi stand alone against their seemingly invincible foe. Han and Leia Organa Solo risk deadly consequences with their controversial tactics to bolster the Jedi resistance. After uncovering a new Yuuzhan Vong menace, Anakin and Tahiri find themselves wanted for murder by the Peace Brigade. To avoid capture, they jump into hyperspace … and into trouble far graver.

Hunted by the Yuuzhan Vong, wanted as criminals by the New Republic, and with unrest stirring within their own ranks, the Jedi find peril everywhere they turn. But even in the midst of despair, while the fiercest battle of all looms on the horizon, hope arises with the birth of one very special child….

Empire of Unreason The Shadows of God

By J. Gregory Keyes

The Age of Unreason, Book 4

Ballantine (Paperback, $15.00, ISBN: 034543904X)

Publication date: July 2001

Description from Publishers Weekly:

In the fourth and final volume in his Age of Unreason series (Newton’s Cannon, etc.), Keyes brings his multi-threaded yarn to a thrilling conclusion. Based on the premise that Sir Isaac Newton devised a theory of alchemy that led to the industrial use of demons, the book builds to a climactic confrontation to see who will reshape the universe. Chief among Newton’s apprentices are wizard/scientist Benjamin Franklin, South Carolina’s ambassador to the court of New Paris (Mobile), and Adrienne de Montchevreuil, sorceress and heir to a secret tradition.

Against them is Adrienne’s son, Nicolas (aka the Sun Boy), with his army of Russians, Mongols and Coweta natives that sweeps over the Great Plains. Such imaginative devices as demon-levitated airships and aetherschreibers (wireless sets) lend interest to the author’s alternate 18th-century world, as do revelations behind certain historical events, like the identity of who helped Louis XIV drop a comet on London.

Keyes entertains both with details of everyday life and with the conversations of people who may not have met but should have. He produces a fine pastiche of the formal writing of Voltaire (who appears as Franklin’s friend and rival), marred only by a more modern “crash cut” narrative, which occasionally jumps mid-scene or reverses chronology, diffusing the suspense. Still, with the unfolding of secrets and past deeds, Keyes brings a welcome level of character uncertainty to the deterministic Newtonian novel. —Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Natural Selection

A Novel by Frederick Barthelme

Counterpoint Press (Paperback, $14.00, ISBN: 1582431310)

Reprint Edition

Publication date: July 2001

Description:

Finally restored to print, Frederick Barthelme’s classic novel about love, marriage, and one man’s search for something more.

Peter Wexler is unhappy. He’s forty and obsessed with what’s wrong in the world, including his marriage, a “thirtysomething” version of Ozzie and Harriet. Deciding a change of scenery might help put his life back in order, Peter leaves his wonderful wife and their ten-year-old son in search of a resolution to the confusion, estrangement, fatigue, and adultery that have confounded his life.

Natural Selection is an intimate novel about a man getting smart, and getting there a little later than he should have. It’s caustic and subtle, slick and funny, charming, deeply melancholy, and more than anything else, true.

The Law of Averages: New and Selected Stories

Stories by Frederick Barthelme

CounterPoint Press (Paperback, $15.00, ISBN: 1582431574)

Publication date: July 2001

Description:

Two decades of stories from one of the premier writers of American fiction.

Twenty years ago Frederick Barthelme began publishing stories that turned readers’ expectations on their heads. In The New Yorker, Esquire, GQ, and elsewhere he published story after story that confounded the prevailing literary assumptions, treating our very ordinary lives with a new kind of careful and loving attention and imagination. He wrote intimate, funny, odd, detailed, laugh-out-loud stories about relationships that almost happen and ones that almost don’t, about the ways we look at each other when we mean things we cannot bring ourselves to say.

Before there were slackers, or kids in parking lots, or stories that took the mundane seriously, there were these prescient stories by Frederick Barthelme. He took a post-ironic stance before the post-ironic had a name. He took fiction where few were then willing to go, took as his subject small romances, private fears, suburban estrangement, office angst, cultural isolation, apparently insignificant humiliations, and the growing information surplus (CNN is a sociological novel, he once remarked). He wrote-and continues to write-with a laser-surgery precision that stuns and delights both readers and critics. If he arrived at the new-literature party a little earlier than the other guests, he has not left early, and is thus well represented in The Law of Averages, with old and new stories side by side, ready to give up their abundant pleasures.

Little Cliff's First Day of School Little Cliff’s First Day of School

By Clifton L. Taulbert, illustrations by E. B. Lewis

Dial Books for Young Readers (Hardcover, $16.99, ISBN: 0803725574)

Publication date: July 2001

Description fromSchool Library Journal:

(Kindergarten-Grade 2) In this second story about Little Cliff, an African-American boy growing up in the rural South in the 1950s, it is time for his first day of school. His happy and proud great-grandparents have laid out his special clothes, but Cliff does “not want to start first grade—not one bit.” He is so frightened when it’s time to leave that he tries hiding under the house—a favorite refuge from the heat of summer. However, determined Mama Pearl coaxes him out and walks him to school herself. As they near the schoolyard, Cliff sees his friends enjoying a ball game and realizes that school isn't just being “quiet, quiet, quiet” and “work, work, work.” He can have fun as well. The lengthy text is appropriately flavored by dialect that is readily accessible to young readers: Mama Pearl chides, “Cliff, don’t step on my nerves. Now you git them shoes on right now.” Lewis’s large watercolor paintings of the boy with downcast eyes, bowed head, and slumped shoulders speak volumes about his apprehensions. The country schoolhouse looks run-down and uninviting until it is surrounded by energetic youngsters. Children will recognize in Cliff’s reactions their own first-day jitters and will be comforted by the last scene in which a laughing-crying Mama Pearl hugs him and says, “I am just so happy we made it to school on our first day.” —Marianne Saccardi, Norwalk Community College, CT. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

The Wild Blue: The Men and Boys Who Flew the B-24s Over Germany, 1944-1945 The Wild Blue: The Men and Boys Who Flew the B24s Over Germany, 1944-1945

Nonfiction by Stephen E. Ambrose

Simon & Schuster (Hardcover, ISBN: 0743216547)

Publication date: August 2001

Description:

Given the 50 percent casualty rate, it’s hard to imagine young soldiers wanting to join the flight crews that flew B24s over Germany, but they did. A popular historian recounts their training and combat.

The Land The Land

By Mildred D. Taylor

Phyllis Fogelman Books (Library Binding, $17.99, ISBN: 0803719507)

Publication date: September 2001

Description from Booklist:

*Starred Review* Gr. 7-12. Like Taylor’s Newbery Medal book, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (1976), this powerful historical novel, a prequel to Roll of Thunder, refuses to “whitewash” history. As the author notes in her afterword, the language was painful and life was painful for many African Americans, including her family. Drawing directly on her family history, especially what she knows about her great-grandfather, she goes back to the time of Reconstruction to tell a searing story of cruelty, racism, and betrayal. She also tells a thrilling coming-of-age story about friendship, hope, and family strength.

Paul-Edward narrates it in his own voice, which combines a passionate immediacy with the distance of an adult looking back. There are things he can never forget. The story begins when he is nine years old in Georgia. Born of a part-Indian, part-African slave mother and a white plantation owner, he is raised by both parents. Paul is treated “almost” as if he were white. He eats at his white father’s table—except when there are guests. He learns to read, and his best friend is his white brother, Robert, who is the same age. His greatest enemy is Mitchell, the son of black sharecroppers on the plantation, who beats Paul unmercifully (“You think you way better ’n everybody else”). Then Paul teaches Mitchell to read, and Mitchell teaches Paul to fight.

Through Paul’s personal turmoil, Taylor dramatizes society’s rigid racist divisions. Paul’s identity as a “white nigger,” caught between black and white, almost destroys him. A bitter turning point comes when Robert betrays him to save face with white friends. Taylor makes it plain that Paul never gets over it. Never. Paul learns another harsh lesson when he loses his temper and beats up a white bully: his father thrashes him to teach him an essential lesson for his survival: “You don’t ever hit a white man…. Use your head, Paul-Edward, not your fists.” Losing his temper could get him lynched, and he doesn’t forget, even when whites exploit him, insult him, cheat him, and injure him.

His dream is to own his own land. It becomes his obsession. The second part of the book is about his work, backbreaking work for months and years to get that land. As a teenager, he finally runs away, and Mitchell runs with him. They meet up later, brothers now, family, “[Mitchell is] more a brother to me than any of my blood.” The bond between Paul and Mitchell is at the heart of the book, all the more moving because it begins with raging hostility.

Paul falls in love with a strong, independent woman, whom he eventually marries. But his focus is on the land, working the land, his own land. It’s rare to find detail about work and business in books for children. Paul’s work is vividly described: he trains and races horses, and he makes money as a skilled carpenter. Then he signs a contract with a white landowner and works seven days a week, clearing the land, chopping the trees, hacking the branches, burning the brush, planting cotton—only to have the landowner tear up the contract (“You think I care about a paper signed with a nigger?”). That moment is like a lightning flash, illuminating the racist truth through Paul’s bitter heartbreak. Yet, even then, Paul remains ruthlessly determined. He continues his backbreaking labor and quest for the land, obsessively calculating how much he needs and how he’ll earn it. The banks refuse Paul credit. He sells his most precious possessions. Finally, with the help of Mitchell, he earns the money and, through a complicated financial transaction that involves a sympathetic white man and a surprise family inheritance, he buys the land of his dreams.

The novel will make a great discussion book in American history classes dealing with black history; pioneer life; and the Reconstruction period, about which little has been written for this age group. Filled with details of how people work the land and build a home, what they eat and how they cook it, the book will appeal to teens who loved the Little House books (a series that also spoke to racism), and it could easily be paired with any number of stories about immigrants’ struggles to follow their dreams in America.

Taylor’s characters are drawn without sentimentality. Not all whites are demonized; some whites help Paul. But many are vicious racists, like the farmers who don’t want blacks owning land nearby. The “n” word hits like a blow each time it’s used. But, as the author writes, that’s what her grandfather endured. Let’s hope that the historical truth, the words, and the violence don’t cause adult censors to keep this landmark book from young adults who will want to read it and talk about it.

Paul-Edward’s granddaughter will be Cassie Logan, and readers who remember her from Roll of Thunder will grab this and be astonished by its powerful story. —Hazel Rochman Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

The Servant Leader The Servant Leader: How to Build a Creative Team, Develop Great Morale, and Improve Bottom-Line Performance

By James A. Autry

Prima (Hardcover, $22.95, ISBN: 0761535357)

Publication date: September 2001

Description:

Leadership is a calling. And servant leadership—the idea that managing with respect, honesty, love and spirituality will empower employees—helps you answer that calling. Written by top-selling author, former Fortune 500 executive, and business consultant James A. Autry, this remarkable journey helps you uncover a set of skills and ideals that will transform the way you do business. It helps you nurture the needs and goals of those who look to you for leadership. The result is a more productive, successful, and happier organization, and a more meaningful life for you.

Useless Virtues

Poems by T. R. Hummer

Louisiana State University Press (Paperback, $16.95, ISBN: 0807126691)

Publication date: October 2001

Christmas Stories from Mississippi Christmas Stories from Mississippi

Edited by Judy H. Tucker and Charline R. McCord

Illustrated by Wyatt Waters

University Press of Mississippi (Hardcover, $28.00, ISBN: 1578063817)

Publication date: October 2001

Description from the publisher:

How do you create Christmas spirit when the temperature refuses to dip below fifty degrees or when snow is a miracle that vanishes at sunrise?

Held together by bonds of family, soil, and history, Mississippians share a peculiar yuletide experience in the Deep South. To capture the state’s unique holiday glow, Christmas Stories from Mississippi packages writings by such greats as Eudora Welty, Willie Morris, Elizabeth Spencer, Clifton Taulbert, Barry Hannah, William Faulkner, and Ellen Gilchrist with the work of such rising stars as Edward Cohen, Carolyn Haines, and Caroline Langston.

Illustrated by one of Mississippi’s best known artists, Wyatt Waters, these seventeen short stories and essays reveal the wonders and sorrows of Christmastime and the special poignancy of childhood memories. With Waters’s touch, the book makes the perfect gift for literary readers and anyone who relishes life in Mississippi.

Christmas Stories from Mississippi opens with Welty’s classic, “A Worn Path,” and closes with Morris’s personal reflection, “Christmases Gone, Revisited.” Between the writings of these two Mississippi literary giants are stories, memoirs, essays, and excerpts such as Spencer’s “Presents,” Gilchrist’s “Surviving the Holiday Season,” an excerpt from Faulkner’s Light in August, Hannah’s “Sermon with Meath,” and Taulbert’s “Quilts: Kiver for My Children.”

The many storytellers and many perspectives in Christmas Stories from Mississippi share Southern experiences in which families create their own entertainment, relish and break traditions, and celebrate a season in ways no other region’s families can.

Judy H. Tucker (Jackson, Mississippi) has published in Mississippi Magazine, the Clarion-Ledger, the Northside Sun, and Southern Living. Charline R. McCord (Clinton, Mississippi) is vice-president of publishing at DREAM, Inc., and has been published in The Southern Quarterly, The Mississippi Quarterly, and the Clarion-Ledger. Wyatt Waters lives in Clinton, Mississippi. Two books that feature his watercolors are Another Coat of Paint and Painting Home.

Web Hosting Web Hosting

By Carl Burnham

McGraw-Hill (Paperback, $39.99, ISBN: 0072132795)

Publication date: October 2001

Description from the publisher:

This is a hands-on introductory resource for effectively serving as a corporate Web host. Shows how to implement the essential technology—running servers, operating software, network resources, and database-management applications—needed to offer customers high-quality service.

Why Did I Ever Why Did I Ever

By Mary Robison

Counterpoint (Hardcover, $23.00, ISBN: 1582430608)

Publication date: October 2001

Description from Booklist:

In her first novel in a decade, Robison, a writer with switchblade wit, unveils the helter-skelter consciousness of Money Breton. The cynical veteran of three marriages and the mother of two screwed-up adult children, Money, still a man-magnet, is a Hollywood script doctor who commutes from a small town somewhere outside New Orleans. When she isn’t pretending to work, she holds surreal conversations with the Deaf Lady, trades insults with two persistent suitors, frets over her missing cat, and takes out her fear and anger on household objects.

Money’s gay son, Paulie, has been tortured and raped and is currently in police custody. Mev, Money’s lawyer daughter, is struggling with a methadone habit. Crazy with worry and embroiled in the maddening revision of an idiotic script about Bigfoot, Money riffs with a caustic yet deadpan humor not unlike that of Lynda Barry on men, movies, traffic, airlines, and life in general in 572 terse, numbered, and jabbing paragraphs. Robison’s incandescent soliloquy on the absurdity of existence hones fiction to a new and exhilarating measure of sharpness. —Donna Seaman. Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved.

The Literary Art and Activism of Rick Bass The Literary Art and Activism of Rick Bass

Edited by O. Alan Weltzian

University of Utah Press (Paperback, $21.95, ISBN: 0874806976)

Publication date: October 2001

Description from the publisher:

“Art or activism? Why not both? Why worry about burning out in activism or failing in art? What else are our lives but diminishing tapers of wax, sputtering already in long flame? Rot or burn, it’s all the same to the eye of time.” —Rick Bass, Brown Dog of the Yaak

In his controversial 1998 book Fiber, Rick Bass introduced a troubling dilemma of the literary artist and activist: How can any nature writer engage in celebration of the natural world in the face of environmental degradation? Perhaps, Bass speculated, the “activist is the artist’s ashes,” the identity that emerges finally from charred remains of a “pure” devotion to the art of nature writing. In The Literary Art and Activism of Rick Bass, the first comprehensive collection of literary criticism to address Bass’s work, fifteen scholars elucidate the development of social, political, and personal issues in Bass’s fiction and nonfiction.

O. Alan Weltzien is professor of English at Western Montana College of the University of Montana. He lives in Dillon, Montana.

Midnight Burning Midnight Burning

By Caroline Burnes (Carolyn Haines)

Harlequin (Paperback, $4.50, ISBN: 0373226357)

Publication date: October 2001

Reflections: Homes and History of Columbus, Mississippi Reflections: Homes and History of Columbus, Mississippi

By Sylvia Higginbotham, photography by Mark Coffey

Eugene B. Imes (Hardcover, $37.50, ISBN: 0971155402)

Publication date: October 2001

Description from Columbus Historic Foundation:

It’s here! The long awaited coffee table book featuring 47 beautiful antebellum homes and cottages of Columbus.

“Columbus boasts one of the most impressive collections of historic houses in the state of Mississippi. The city also enjoys the benefit of a strong and committed community of preservationists, who ensure that these beautiful homes are preserved and protected. Sylvia Higginbotham and Mark Coffey have captured the rich history and great beauty of Columbus in this fine new book.” —Elbert R. Hilliard, Director, Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

African American Women Scientists and Inventors African American Women Scientists and Inventors

By Otha Richard Sullivan

John Wiley (Hardcover, $22.95, ISBN: 047138707X)

Publication date: October 2001

Description from Book News, Inc.:

Sullivan once headed Detroit's program to infuse African American history into the public school curriculum. Here he profiles 25 black American woman who have made significant contributions to science and technology, explaining that many, many more are utterly unknown because first of legal bans on granting patents to slaves and later because of social constraints on women. His message to black school girls is that just because they have not heard of black women scientists does not mean that the profession is closed to them. —Book News, Inc.®, Portland, OR.

The New Urban Leaders The New Urban Leaders

By Joyce A. Ladner

Brookings Institution Press (Hardcover, $22.95, ISBN: 0815751087)

Publication date: October 2001

Description from Publishers Weekly:

In The New Urban Leaders, Joyce Ladner, a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, profiles some 25 appointed heads of nonprofit community-based urban organizations. Aimed at community activists and leaders, the book includes close studies of a few including Robert Moses, a civil rights era activist who now heads The Algebra Project and the Rev. Eugene Rivers, who fights gang violence in Boston and a broader analysis of how to build such leadership nationally. —Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Skipping Christmas Skipping Christmas

A novel by John Grisham

Doubleday (Hardcover, $19.95, ISBN: 0385505833)

Publication date: November 6, 2001

Description from Publishers Weekly:

For all its clever curmudgeonly edge and minor charms, no way does this Christmas yarn from Grisham rank with A Christmas Carol, as the publisher claims. Nor does it rank with Grisham’s own best work. The premise is terrific, as you’d expect from Grisham. Fed up with the commercial aspects of Christmas, particularly all the money spent, and alone for the holiday for the first time in decades (their daughter has just joined the Peace Corps), grumpy Luther Krank and his sweeter wife, Nora, decide to skip Christmas this year to forgo the gifts, the tree, the decorations, the cards, the parties and to spend the dollars saved on a 10-day Caribbean cruise. But as clever as this setup is, its elaboration is ho-hum. There’s a good reason why nearly all classic Christmas tales rely on an element of fantasy, for, literarily at least, Christmas is a time of miracles. Grisham sticks to the mundane, however, and his story lacks magic for that. He does a smartly entertaining job of satirizing the usual Christmas frenzy, as Luther and Nora resist entreaties from various charities as well as increasing pressure from their neighbors (all sharply drawn, recognizable members of the generic all-American burb, the book’s setting) to do up their house in the traditional way, including installing the giant Frosty that this year adorns the roof of every home on the block except theirs. And when something happens that prompts the Kranks to jump back into Christmas at the last minute, Grisham does slip in a celebration of the real spirit of Christmas, to the point of perhaps squeezing a tear or two from his most sentimental readers (even if he comes uncomfortably close to It’s a Wonderful Life to do so). But it’s too little, too late. The misanthropy in this short novel makes a good antidote to the more cloying Christmas tales, and the book is fun to read. To compare it to Dickens, however, is … humbug. 1.5-million first printing. —Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Conversations with Richard Ford

Edited by Huey Guagliardo

University Press of Mississippi (Hardcover, $46.00, ISBN: 1578064058; Paperback, $18.00, ISBN: 1578064066)

Publication date: November 2001

Description from the publisher:

“If loneliness is the disease, the story is the cure.”

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Ford is a leading figure among American writers of the post-World War II generation. His novel The Sportswriter (1986), along with its sequel Independence Day (1995)—the first novel to win both the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award in the same year—made Frank Bascombe, Ford’s suburban Everyman, as much a part of the American literary landscape as John Updike’s Rabbit Angstrom. With three other novels, a critically acclaimed volume of short stories, and a trilogy of novellas to his credit, Ford’s reputation and his place in the canon is certainly secure.

In Conversations with Richard Ford, the first collection of this author’s interviews and profiles, editor Huey Guagliardo has gathered together twenty-eight revealing conversations spanning a quarter of a century.

These show that Ford is a writer of paradoxes. He was born in the South, but unlike many southern-born writers of his generation he eschews writing set in just one region. When his first novel, A Piece of My Heart (1976), was so often compared to William Faulkner’s work, Ford disdained setting another novel in his native South.

A recurring question that Ford addresses in these interviews is his view of the role of place in both his fiction and his life. “I need to be certain that I have a new stimulus,” he says, explaining his traveling lifestyle. Not wishing to be confined by place in his writing any more than in his own life, Ford rejects the narrow concerns of regionalism, serving notice in several interviews that he is interested in exploring the entire country, that his goal is “to write a literature that is good enough for America.”

Ford also discusses the broader themes of his work, such as the struggle to overcome loneliness, the consoling potential of language, and the redeeming quality of human affection. This American writer talks extensively about his abiding devotion to language and of his profound belief in the power of narrative to forge human connections. Words, Ford says, can “narrow that space Emerson calls the infinite remoteness that separates people.”

The interviews also provide rare glimpses into the personal life of this intriguing and complex man. Ford discusses his fondness for motorcycles, Brittany spaniels, bird hunting, fishing, and Bruce Springsteen. He also talks about his reputation as a “tough guy,” shares his political views, and admits to being “drawn to places where life is a little near the edge.”

Huey Guagliardo is a professor and coordinator of English at Louisiana State University at Eunice. He edited Perspectives on Richard Ford (University Press of Mississippi).

Shakespeare's Counselor Shakespeare’s Counselor

By Charlaine Harris

Minotaur (Hardcover, $22.95, ISBN: 0312277628)

Publication date: November 2001

Description from Booklist:

Lily Bard has married private investigator Jack Leeds, although she hasn’t told many people yet. In tiny Shakespeare, Arkansas, another dreamtime episode finally brings Lily to understand she needs help, and she finds it in a local therapy group of women who have been raped.

Lily’s own story is horrific, and this series is as much about Lily’s re-finding her own self as it is about solving crimes. The leader of the therapy group is a woman named Tamsin, who is being stalked in spectacular ways. When those ways include a grisly murder in Tamsin’s own office, Lily wants to know why.

She’s mostly given up her cleaning service to apprentice to Jack, and she is still obsessive about her own physical training. This dark-edged series finds surcease from a great deal of bloodshed in Lily’s growing awareness of the power of her and Jack’s attachment, even through a miscarriage and a vicious attack by one of Jack’s ex-wives. —GraceAnne DeCandido. Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved.

Conversations with Richard Ford Conversations with Richard Ford

Edited by Huey Guagliardino

University Press of Mississippi (Hardcover, $46.00, ISBN: 1578064058; Paperback, $18.00, ISBN: 1578064066)

Publication date: November 2001

Description from the publisher:

“If loneliness is the disease, the story is the cure.”

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Ford is a leading figure among American writers of the post-World War II generation. His novel The Sportswriter (1986), along with its sequel Independence Day (1995)—the first novel to win both the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award in the same year—made Frank Bascombe, Ford’s suburban Everyman, as much a part of the American literary landscape as John Updike’s Rabbit Angstrom. With three other novels, a critically acclaimed volume of short stories, and a trilogy of novellas to his credit, Ford’s reputation and his place in the canon is certainly secure.

In Conversations with Richard Ford, the first collection of this author’s interviews and profiles, editor Huey Guagliardo has gathered together twenty-eight revealing conversations spanning a quarter of a century.

These show that Ford is a writer of paradoxes. He was born in the South, but unlike many southern-born writers of his generation he eschews writing set in just one region. When his first novel, A Piece of My Heart (1976), was so often compared to William Faulkner’s work, Ford disdained setting another novel in his native South.

A recurring question that Ford addresses in these interviews is his view of the role of place in both his fiction and his life. “I need to be certain that I have a new stimulus,” he says, explaining his traveling lifestyle. Not wishing to be confined by place in his writing any more than in his own life, Ford rejects the narrow concerns of regionalism, serving notice in several interviews that he is interested in exploring the entire country, that his goal is “to write a literature that is good enough for America.”

Ford also discusses the broader themes of his work, such as the struggle to overcome loneliness, the consoling potential of language, and the redeeming quality of human affection. This American writer talks extensively about his abiding devotion to language and of his profound belief in the power of narrative to forge human connections. Words, Ford says, can “narrow that space Emerson calls the infinite remoteness that separates people.”

The interviews also provide rare glimpses into the personal life of this intriguing and complex man. Ford discusses his fondness for motorcycles, Brittany spaniels, bird hunting, fishing, and Bruce Springsteen. He also talks about his reputation as a “tough guy,” shares his political views, and admits to being “drawn to places where life is a little near the edge.”

Huey Guagliardo is a professor and coordinator of English at Louisiana State University at Eunice. He edited Perspectives on Richard Ford (University Press of Mississippi).

Deep Sleep Collected Stories

By Ellen Gilchrist

Back Bay Books (Paperback, $16.95, ISBN: 0316299480)

Publication date: December 2001

Description from Booklist:

Gilchrist’s celebrated writing life began with a book of short stories, In the Land of the Dreamy Dreams (1984), and her second collection, Victory over Japan, won the 1985 National Book Award. She has switched back and forth between novels and short stories ever since, and her dulcet yet tensile voice has become an integral part of American literature.

Gilchrist has now selected 34 of her favorite stories from seven collections to create a potent and pleasingly cohesive volume that showcases her deep sense of place and, the most salient feature of her work, her lusty, unpredictable, and unapologetic heroines. Gilchrist’s women have refused to be contained within single stories. No matter how often she finds someone new to write about, and how far away she moves from the settings she knows best, and which she so affectionately yet critically portrays, such as Fayetteville, Arkansas, and New Orleans, her feisty and outspoken heroines track her down and insist on continuing their lives.

Here, readers first meet the fearless and competitive Rhoda Katherine Manning as an ambitious third-grader and follow her through an elegant adulthood of extravagant gestures and determined independence. Nora Jane Whittington, a self-declared anarchist, leaves New Orleans for San Francisco, where she wins the adoration of the heroic Freddy Harwood, learns all about earthquakes, and becomes the mother of twin girls. And then there’s Miss Crystal and her sharp-eyed maid, Traceleen. In each intriguing tale, Gilchrist brilliantly illuminates some quirky aspect of human nature, whether it’s the territorial instinct at work in a snooty tennis club, the need for poetry and music, marital friction, the complexities of race, or the mysteries of love, all the while granting readers the boon of her humor, wisdom, and beautifully crafted prose. —Donna Seaman Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Deep Sleep Deep Sleep

A Novel by Charles Wilson

St. Martin’s Press (Paperback, $6.99, ISBN: 0312977654)

Publication date: December 2001

Description from Publishers Weekly:

Murder, migraines and mambos mix messily in this latest from veteran thriller writer Wilson (Extinct; Direct Descendant). At the South Louisiana Sleep Disorders Institute, a young woman lies strangled while obese accountant Henry Womack, another patient, has disappeared into the bayou. Nearby, the parents of a celebrated local freak named Boudron are found butchered, and Boudron is discovered hiding behind a screen of voodoo amulets.

Enter Mark French, a deputy just back on duty after a three-year hiatus following his botched attempt to rescue three hostages from a crazed gunman in New Orleans. Spooked by offers of help from the blatantly sinister institute head, Shasha Dominique, a secret voodoo priestess, Mark and his colleagues vacillate between fingering the one-armed Boudron and the plainly zombified Womack. But when Womack and Boudron both turn up dead, it’s clear that the bad guys are still on the prowl, even with a surfeit of good guys trying to apprehend them—including Mark’s love interest, forensic psychologist Kelly Dalton. Someone is evidently manipulating the institute’s so-called “lucid dreaming” technique to persuade innocents to carry out crimes through hypnotic suggestion.

To the author’s credit, there are one or two unforeseen twists to the otherwise humdrum plot. By the time its dastardly dynamic is exposed, however, most readers will long since have lost interest. Cut-up paragraphs and touristy descriptions of voodoo practices litter the pages without much pattern, and the prose ranges from wooden to downright leaden. —Copyright © 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


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