Archive for April, 2008

NewSouth Books Shown at Poets House Showcase

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008 by Mary Katherine

The 16th Annual Poets House Showcase recently featured all of the new poetry books published in the United States this year, including books by NewSouth authors. More than 2,000 titles were on display from April 12-19 at the historic Jefferson Market Library.

NewSouth books on display at Poets House Showcase

According to Poets House website, “The Showcase provides writers, readers, and publishers with a fascinating vantage point from which to assess publishing and design trends and linguistic, aesthetic, and philosophical shifts … the Showcase reflects Poets House’s mission to make the range of modern poetry available to the public and to stimulate public dialogue on issues of poetry and culture.” All the poetry book titles can be found in the fully-searchable online Directory of American Poetry Books featuring over 20,000 poetry titles published between 1990 and 2006.

NewSouth poetry books present in the directory and at the showcase include:

The World According to Whiskey: Tom House’s poems are tough and graphic, and they bear witness to the underbelly of a Southern culture with no room for the disenfranchised—the poor, the weird, and the broke.

And All the Layered Light: Using the settings and imagery of his native rural Kentucky, Charles Semones creates a collection of poems that transcend time and place. It’s Southern Gothic writing at its finest.

Century of the Death of the Rose: The works of the late Ecuadorian poet Jorge Carrera Andrade are presented in English and the original Spanish in this volume of his poetry, selected and translated by Steven Ford Brown.

February Mission: Jim Harrell’s volume of poetry and plays ranges back in time over his own rich history, visiting places he’s been and wars he’s experienced, friendships shared and loves lost, and life on the littoral coast, which inspires much of his work and describes his emotional home.

Straying Toward Home: The poems, like the title of this book, are delicious paradoxes. James Mersmann’s vivid images and beneficent intelligence are a continuous pleasure. 

It’s Good Weather for Fudge: Conversing with Carson McCullers: Sue Walker imagines a friendship and conversation with McCullers as they share memories of two women growing up in the Deep South, McCullers in Georgia and Walker in Alabama.

One More River to Cross: The late John Beecher’s powerful, spare verse is brought together in this collection, compiled and edited by Steven Ford Brown.

To learn more or to search the Directory of American Poetry Books, check out the Poets House website. Find all the above titles and more at NewSouth Books, Amazon. com, or your favorite local or online retailer. 

Gerald Duff Reflects on Virginia Festival of the Book

Monday, April 14th, 2008 by Brian Seidman

Gerald Duff, author of the short story collection Fire Ants, describes a recent session at the Virginia Festival of the Book:

I recently attended the Virginia Festival of the Book where I participated in a reading and book signing session devoted to short story collections, Along with my book Fire Ants, short story collections by Nin Andrews and Cary Holladay were the focus of the session and questions afterwards by members of the audience.

Among other excellent questions, one query had to do with what the first sentence of a short story must do as compared to the initial sentence of a novel. Each of us three writers addressed the topic. I suggested that the first sentence of any work of fiction must lead the reader to want to read the second one, and so on, or the work fails. But in the short story in particular, the first sentence must pose a question which the rest of the story must answer. In other words, if the situation of imbalance implied in the first sentence is not satisfactorily addressed in such a fashion that a rebalancing is not accomplished by the end of the story, the reader will not be satisfied psychologically by the work.

As an example, I cited the first sentence of the title story of Fire Ants, in which the narrator begins by stating “She had kept the bottle stuck down inside a basket of clothes that needed ironing.”

The reader must want to know who “she” is. Why is she hiding a bottle? What’s in the bottle? And since this is a work of fiction, the reader knows that bottle must be drunk from somewhere along the way. That drinking must have an effect on action. What will that effect be?

Unless the reader has these questions answered in a narratively satisfying way by the time the story ends, the short story will certainly be flawed and perhaps fail.

In that session at the Virginia Festival, the questions raised by the audience can be as interesting and productive as the stories being presented.

Gerald Duff’s Fire Ants is available directly from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite local or online book retailer.

Governor John Patterson Interviewed by The Montgomery Advertiser

Friday, April 11th, 2008 by Mary Katherine

Kenneth Mullinax of the Montgomery Advertiser recently interviewed John Patterson, whose authorized biography Nobody But the People: The Life and Times of Alabama’s Youngest Governor, by Warren Trest, is now available from NewSouth Books.

Nobody But The People is the first first authorized biography of former Alabama Governor John Patterson, and tells the story of his journey from Alabama’s youngest governor and WWII hero to respected judge who recanted his former segregationist ways. In the interview, Patterson gives details about his father’s murder and his friendship with George Wallace.

From the interview:

What happened to your father after he was elected?

On June 18, 1954, just 17 days after winning, he was working late at his law office on Fifth Avenue in Phenix City. At 9:10 p.m., he came to the alley where his car was parked and as soon as he sat down in it, he was gunned down. He was shot by Albert Fuller, chief deputy sheriff, while Arch Ferrell — Russell County’s district attorney–looked on in approval. Four shots from a .38 pistol rang out and the bullets hit my dad in his mouth, chest and arm. He was strong enough to get out of the car, but collapsed dead on the sidewalk.

Is this when you entered politics?

Yes, everyone wanted me to fill my father’s term of office as state attorney general and I did so with no opposition. We soon cleaned up the city by putting in the Alabama National Guard under Gen. Walter Hanna and hundreds of people went to prison and the organized gambling ended forever. I served as attorney general from 1955 to 1959 until I got a promotion from the people.

When did you first meet George Wallace?

I first met him in 1947 when he joined me and my father for dinner at the Elite Cafe here in Montgomery. We became instant friends and remained so for the rest of our lives, except for a few months in 1958.

What happened in 1958?

That’s the year I ran for governor and Wallace and 12 other people were in the same race. Those were emotional times and I was supported by some segments of the KKK, but all the candidates, including Wallace and myself, were open segregationist in some form.

Later, when asked about his regrets, Patterson responded, “My biggest regret is I didn’t bring black citizens into the political process when I was attorney general or governor.”

Click here to read to the entire article and interview.

Nobody But the People: The Life and Times of Alabama’s Youngest Governor is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite online and retail booksellers.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune calls American Crisis Essential Reading

Monday, April 7th, 2008 by Mary Katherine

Book editor Susan Larson has reviewed American Crisis, Southern Solutions, the collection of Southern political essays edited by NewSouth author Anthony Dunbar. Larson favorably compares American Crisis and it’s predecessor Where We Stand: Voices of Southern Dissent to the Agrarian anthology of the 1930s “I’ll Take My Stand.” She praises the essayists and Dunbar for creating a collection that “shows the ways in which the South can offer solutions to national dilemmas.”

From the review:

The list of topics goes on — environmental racism, immigration, voting problems for African-Americans, the lack of a governmental green agenda. These writers strike a progressive, positive, yet warning note.

In this election year, “American Crisis, Southern Solutions” is essential reading. Tick off a problem — religion and government, the war in Iraq, the erosion of civil rights — and this volume addresses it in a thoughtful way.

Read the full article from the Times-Picayune.

American Crisis, Southern Solutions: From Where We Stand, Promise and Peril is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite online and local booksellers.

Learn More about NewSouth Books’ Internship Program

Friday, April 4th, 2008 by Brian Seidman

Congratulations to former NewSouth intern Matthew Nelson, who will be working in Santa Monica, California, this semester as a script-reading intern for Lions Gate Entertainment.

Matt was an intern for NewSouth in summer 2007 while at student at Sewanee: The University of the South. Matt’s duties at NewSouth included assisting with editorial projects, filling sales orders, and considering and advising on incoming manuscripts.

NewSouth offers a limited number of internships each semester. Because of our small staff and collaborative atmosphere, NewSouth interns get a hands-on chance to work in many aspects of the publishing industry, and learn in detail how a book moves from the proposal stage to the finished product. For internship inquiries, please call Managing Editor Brian Seidman at 334-834-3556.

Coach Bill Elder Comments on Don Klores’s Black Magic Documentary

Thursday, April 3rd, 2008 by Brian Seidman

Bill Elder’s memoir All Guts and No Glory recounts Bill’s struggles to break racial barriers with a a courageous group of white and black student athletes at Northeast State Junior College in Alabama in the early 1970s. Recently Bill watched Dan Klores’s documentary Black Magic, about basketball players at historically black colleges and universities during the civil rights movement, and he shares his thoughts about the program:

Dan Klores’s Black Magic is both a painful and uplifting documentary that details how black basketball players and coaches overcame oppressive racial prejudice to make an indelible impact on the game of college basketball. Through the lens of basketball, Klores provides an honest look at the complicated and deep-seated issues of race during the days of segregation and later at a time after laws had been changed but hearts remained pretty much the same.

Klores’s work is of special interest to me since I grew up during the time of segregation and early integration and observed some of this overt racial prejudice first hand as a child and later as a college basketball player and coach. After graduating from college in the mid `60’s, I started my college basketball coaching career and recruited the first black players to a small college in Alabama. I spent most of my career coaching at NAIA schools, the NAIA being the first college athletic association to allow black players to participate. Despite the fact that the NAIA initially had restrictions on the number of black teams that could participate in their post season tournament, I am proud of the early stance (prior to that of the NCAA) that this organization took.

I was inspired by the documentary’s portrayal of the inner spirit and courage of the black players and coaches during this troubled time, a spirit that enabled them to continue playing and coaching the game that they loved despite the fact that so many doors were shut to them at the college and professional levels. The documentary gave me new insight into the role of the historically black colleges and universities during this time of limited educational and athletic opportunities for African Americans. These schools not only provided young black students a higher education but also served as a place of nurturing and mentoring – “safe houses,” as one speaker called them – during this troubled time in our country. They also served as a platform for many very creative and talented coaches to demonstrate their worth.

The documentary Black Magic exudes the sheer joy of black athletes who absolutely loved the game of basketball – players who honed their skills to perfection in less-than- adequate circumstances and then persevered through the injustice and unending frustration of racial intolerance for further opportunity to play the game.

A portion of the second part of the documentary details how the civil rights movement helped open doors for black players to play in increasing numbers at predominately white institutions throughout the nation. The most significant changes in this area, however, were in the South where college basketball teams had been totally segregated. Unfortunately, it was years before black basketball coaches were given the opportunity to serve as head coaches at predominately white schools.

One consequence of black players’ being given the opportunity to play at predominately white schools was that the tremendous talent pool that was available to coaches at historically black institutions was eventually depleted. In my opinion, the talent level at many of these schools was comparable to that of major colleges. Despite the fact that there are still a significant number of very strong teams at historically black schools, the overall talent level is not as good as it once was. The number of players from these institutions drafted to play in the NBA has significantly decreased over the years. On a positive note, the opportunity for black coaches to serve as head coaches at predominately white college as well as in the professional ranks has increased dramatically in recent years.

I think that all of us (black and white) owe the courageous black players and coaches who toiled for years under the national radar screen at historically black schools a debt of gratitude. Their efforts helped give deserving black players a venue to display their skills during a time of oppressive racial discrimination, provided significant impetus to the civil rights movement, and helped lay the groundwork for what the game of basketball has become today.

As a former college basketball coach, I have gained new insight into the plight of black players and coaches during this time in our history through Dan Klores’s documentary. I have always had deep respect for the players and coaches mentioned in this production but after watching Black Magic, I have even greater admiration for their efforts.

All Guts and No Glory is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite online and local booksellers.

Fire Ants Finalist for Jesse Jones Award

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008 by Brian Seidman

Fire Ants, the new short story collection by Gerald Duff, is a finalist for the Jesse Jones Award for Best Book of Fiction in 2007, from the Texas Institute of Letters. The winner of the award will be announced April 19 at the organization’s annual banquet in Dallas, Texas. Gerald’s earlier novel, Coasters, was also nominated for the Jesse Jones Award.

The stories found in Fire Ants range in locale from the marshes and pine barrens of East Texas to the row houses of Baltimore, and in time from the Civil War to the present day. Gerald Duff conjures up portraits of people captive to private delusions and bound to visions of what might be or might have been. Two children conspire to find a way around a madman, a middle-aged loner kidnaps a cheerleader to watch her dance, a blind man revisits how he lost his sight and found his way in a seaport bordello, a mother trades her body to raise her son’s bail, and a ruined songwriter tries to convince himself that he still believes in Memphis. Highly comic and deeply serious, the tales Duff gives us trace precisely a conflicted terrain of love, hate, and family.

Gerald Duff’s Fire Ants is available directly from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite local or online book retailer.