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Archive for May, 2007

All Guts and No Glory Author Bill Elder to Speak June 7

Thursday, May 31st, 2007 by Brian Seidman

Former Auburn Montgomery coach Bill Elder will speak about his new book All Guts and No Glory on Thursday, June 7, at 6:30 p.m., in the Auburn University Montgomery Library (West Room, 10th floor). This is an inspiring first-person account of his experiences desegregating a college basketball team in north Alabama, which esteemed historian Wayne Flynt and author Clifton Taulbert respectively call “compelling testimony.” Light refreshments will be served.

Bill Elder has a dramatic story to tell. Picture this: a predominantly white junior college on Sand Mountain, Alabama, in the early 1970s; a directive to integrate the basketball team; faculty, staff, and administration which, by and large, did not support this endeavor; and a community known for its segregationist violence and KKK activity. This is the situation into which young Elder, a future inductee into the NAIA Basketball Coaches’ Hall of Fame, cautiously brought several black players. He and his team faced the threats and occasional violence, but did so bravely and went on to win games, sending a positive message of acceptance and unity to the entire sports community across the state.

Please join Bill Elder and NewSouth Books in celebrating publication of All Guts and No Glory on this special occasion.

All Guts and No Glory is available from NewSouth Books, Amazon.com, or your favorite local or online book retailer.

Beyond the Burning Bus Reviewed in Presbyterian Outlook

Friday, May 18th, 2007 by Brian Seidman

Beyond the Burning Bus by Rev. J. Phillips Noble has been reviewed in the Presbyterian Outlook magazine. Reviewer Chris Joiner calls the book “timely yet again for those of us who struggle to call attention to the Kingdom of God in a culture that continues to be divided along racial, economic, and religious lines.” From the review:

Noble was pastor of First Church in the picturesque town of Anniston, nestled in the foothills of the Appalachians. He had been pastor of the church for nearly five years when Mothers Day dawned on 14 May 1961. It would be a defining day for the nation, the state of Alabama, and, most especially, the town of Anniston. As the nation awoke and people turned on their television sets, they were confronted with what can only be described as apocalyptic images of a Greyhound bus burning on the outskirts of Anniston. And, like all apocalyptic images, it lifted a veil for the whole country on the depth of violence brewing in the south, and invited a response.

This book is the story of one such response. It comes from an unlikely place, given the times, which makes the response all the more courageous. Noble writes in spare prose, detailing events with a keen eye and an ability to capture the larger issues at work in even the most mundane events. For example, early in the book he details the first five years of his ministry preceding the bus burnings. In those five years, the church moved from one location to another, and the bonds of trust between pastor and people were built. It is all rather boilerplate stuff, until Noble, without breaking stride, makes a devastating observation. It is an observation about him, to be sure, but also about mainline white ministers and church folk as a rule in those days and far too often these days as well: I found it remarkable that I did not know any black ministers during my early years in Anniston. Not a single one.

The burning bus changes this reality for Noble and he responds by seeking to build bridges across the violent chasm existing between him and his AfricanAmerican colleagues. He has an initial meeting with Bob McClain, an AfricanAmerican Methodist minister, where the contours of the crisis are discussed. This leads to a larger meeting with Nimrod Reynolds at an African- American church. Noble is surprised to discover that he does not even know the exact location of this church facility, even though he has lived in the community for over five years, again shining a light on the state of things at that time. But, in addition to learning new maps that included African-American parts of town, this small group of ministers was determined to learn how to love one another and engage in social action in Anniston.

The result of these actions was the formation of the Human Relations Council, a biracial group determined to create a vehicle for racial justice in the Deep South. Noble was elected its first chairperson. The creation of this council immediately brought to the forefront the festering hostility in the white community. This conflict was never more apparent and dangerous than in what came to be called The Library Incident.

The public library in Anniston was desegregated, thanks to the work of the Human Relations Council, with the support of the city government. On the day when the first African-American patrons were to go to the library and check out books, members of the KKK and their supporters arrived, and violence ensued. Nimrod Reynolds and Bob McClain were attacked by a mob and beaten with sticks and chains.

The attack drew national headlines, once again placing the racial tension in Anniston on display across the country. By now, however, the media attention was beginning to help propel the city toward more substantive changes, with Noble and the Human Relations Council at the forefront. Noble describes it as slow progress, but progress all the same. In his understated style, Noble sums up the work, Anniston during these two years had gone through some changes, and these changes were in the right direction. For all of that, I was grateful to God.”

Read the full review at the Presbyterian Outlook.

Beyond the Burning Bus is available from NewSouth Books, Amazon.com, or your favorite local or online book retailer.

Fairytale Author Valerie Gribben Honored by USA Today

Monday, May 14th, 2007 by Brian Seidman

Valerie Gribben, author of Fairytale from Junebug Books, has been selected for the USA Today 2007 All-USA College Academic First Team. The USA Today Team ranks the top twenty college students in the United State; Gribben is the only student in Alabama named to this year’s First Team.

In 2003, Junebug Books published Gribben’s Fairytale, a coming-of-age story that deftly combines traditional fairytale elements with a modern sensibility. Two more Fairytale books are forthcoming from Junebug. Gribben is also the founder of “Healing Words,” a volunteer reading program; she will attend medical school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham next year.

Learn more about Fairytale at http://www.newsouthbooks.com/fairytale.

Junebug Books Author Valerie Gribben Honored by USA Today

Monday, May 14th, 2007 by Brian Seidman

Valerie Gribben, author of Fairytale from Junebug Books, has been selected for the USA Today 2007 All-USA College Academic First Team. The USA Today Team ranks the top twenty college students in the United State; Gribben is the only student in Alabama named to this year’s First Team.

In 2003, Junebug Books published Gribben’s Fairytale, a coming-of-age story that deftly combines traditional fairytale elements with a modern sensibility. Two more Fairytale books are forthcoming from Junebug. Gribben is also the founder of “Healing Words,” a volunteer reading program; she will attend medical school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham next year.

Learn more about Fairytale at http://www.newsouthbooks.com/fairytale.

NewSouth test post

Monday, May 14th, 2007 by Brian Seidman

This is a NewSouth test post. We apologize for the inconvenience. If you are seeing this post, please return to the NewSouth website and update your RSS feed with the new RSS URL. Thank you.

Junior Ray Author Responds to New York Times Article, “Are Book Reviewers Out of Print?”

Monday, May 7th, 2007 by Brian Seidman

From Junior Ray author John Pritchard:

I, like fourteen billion other people, was distressed when the New York Herald Tribune folded. Even then, in 1966, I think we knew “The Blob” was moving in our direction. More accurately, my hero Thomas Wolfe would have called it an “inexorable” Blob, but, just as descriptively, it is an unstoppable, cheapening wave of lesserness in our brave new world of more.

Indeed, the change The Blob is no longer just at the city limits; it is on our doorsteps, and now we may begin to see ourselves as inhabitants of a world in which the familiar is vanishing — newspapers turning into billboards or simply going under, mom and pop businesses smothered, and on a larger scale: the flora and fauna of the planet not showing up for work on a daily basis. The horror is not one of collapse; its an inundation by shallowness. And, finally, when there are no more newspapers, no more books and magazines, and everything is entirely electronic . . . the lights will go out. Then, just as it was in A.D. 476 when the last ineffectual Roman Emperor — Romulus Augustulus — bit the historic dust . . . the barbarian kingdoms will arise.

In drafting the brief response above last week to the May 2, 2007 New York Times article “Are Book Reviewers Out of Print?” by Motoko Rich, that first pop was so dark I scared myself until I remembered my persona — namely, that I always behave as though I am Don Quixote, the noble fool who will, with a smile and cup of coffee, face Tsunamis with an inner tube. I am certain this terrible change, bad as it is, cannot entirely snuff out the love and rush of the printed word. However, the currently accelerated crumpling of journals is the shape of a future, and, as such, it is what James Joyce could have meant — if he had known to mean it — when he wrote that wonderful phrase: “the ineluctable modality of the visible.”

I loved Richard Fords comment in the sixth graph of the article: That reviews could be continued in some newspapers [e.g., the Atlanta Journal-Constitution] “as a public service, and the fact of the matter is they are unwilling to.” Apart from a mere denunciation, his observation largely articulates the shallow, profit-driven nature of this so-called change, this cultural lessening that may signify the second End of Western Civilization — I have to give credit for the idea of that dark hyperbole to Memphiss Fredric Koeppel (of the Commercial Appeal) because he said, once, nearly twenty years ago, in the grocery store: “First the comma, then Western Civilization!”

Also, Ford’s thoughts concerning newspapers as opposed to blogs, in the last graph of the piece, were excellent as well. He may be becoming a giant.

What Melissa Faye Greene has to say is powerful, too. In graph twenty she declares: “With the removal of the cultural critics, Atlanta is surrendering again . . . We all lose, you know, not just Atlantans, with the disappearance from the scene of a literate intelligence.”

FACED WITH THIS THREATENING INEVITABILITY, we, you and I and those of our tribe — the writers and publishers — will of course try to make bouillabaisse out of the seemingly unstoppable “Blob” and not let it make hash out of us.

The most wretched aspect of some changes is that we may know they are not good, but we also know that, later on, those-not-us will begin to admire the destruction, and after a while the changes that were indeed never good in the first place will somehow, over time, become regarded as the way things ought to be — Was it in Brave New World that a young man dreamed of being a jingle writer? A composer of slogans? Ive been that, too, but I didnt dream of it.

The fact is that all things are not relative. Some ideas and conditions are punk from the beginning, and no infinite curve, no E’s or squared MC’s can ever make them anything other than that.

THERE’S JUST ONE THING TO DO. I told Junior Ray about the article and about what was happening, and he just said: “Fukkum, Pritchard. Get your inner tube, and let’s face the gotdam Sue Nommy.”

Music Fell on Alabama Featured in Alabama Musician's Connection

Friday, May 4th, 2007 by Brian Seidman

C. S. Fuqua‘s definitive book on the Muscle Shoals, Alabama, music scene, Music Fell on Alabama, is featured in May’s Alabama Musician’s Connection newsletter. NewSouth Books’ reissue of this important title contains a new epilogue by the author, offering updates on Muscle Shoals’ Fame Recording Studio and Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, as well as a “Star’s Who’ve Risen” guide to the modern music legends of Alabama.

In an interview with Alabama Musician’s Connection, Fuqua–a well-published fiction and non-fiction author, talks about his love of reading and writing. I had always been an avid reader and became even more voracious afterward, said Fuqua. I found literature the best avenue to escape into worlds familiar and frightening, as well as strange and wonderful. Fuqua also talks about how he learned to craft wooden flutes, which he now sells to customers worldwide.

Learn more about the Alabama Musician’s Connection, and read the full interview with C. S. Fuqua, at their website. C. S. Fuqua’s website is at http://www.knology.net/~csfuqua/.

Music Fell on Alabama is available directly from NewSouth Books, Amazon.com, or your favorite local or online bookseller

Grievances Author Follows in Writing Footsteps of his Grandmother

Thursday, May 3rd, 2007 by Brian Seidman

More notes from the road from author Mark Ethridge:

A week from tonight, I’m the featured speaker at the annual meeting of the Queens University Friends of the Library in Charlotte – another of the many speeches I’ve made to literary groups and at universities since NewSouth Books published Grievances almost a year ago.

This one stands to be a little different.

On May 8, 1974 – thirty three years prior, almost to the day – my grandmother, Willie Snow Ethridge, addressed the same group.

As the Friends of the Library reported in a recent newsletter item, “Willie Snow Ethridge came to Charlotte (from a weekend at the Kentucky Derby) to talk at Queens about her 1973 book, Side By Each. A scrapbook in Everett Library documents her visit as speaker . . . Reporters at both The Charlotte Observer and The Charlotte News found her to be engaging as a person and a writer – part of her grandson’s inheritance from her and other well known writers in his family.”

Being Mark Ethridge III leads people to assume I most closely identify with my newspaper editor father (Raleigh Times, Akron Beacon Journal, Detroit Free Press) or my newspaper publisher grandfather (Louisville Courier-Journal, Newsday) – especially since I’ve been both a newspaper publisher and an editor.

But the fact is, I’ve always had as much in common with Willie (that was her given name and that’s what her sixteen grandchildren called her) as I do with the journalists for whom I am named. I especially identify with her love of stories and her humor.

I’ll likely never equal her talent and I’ll certainly never match her output. Willie Snow Ethridge published sixteen books. I’ve published one, although I’m finishing another and plotting a third.

But the newsletter story carries the headline A First For Annual Meeting.

If I didn’t feel any legacy pressure before, I certainly do now.