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Mississippi Books and Writers

November 2001

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

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).



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