Archive for June, 2009

Rheta Grimsley Johnson’s Poor Man’s Provence Named Baton Rouge’s One Book One Community Summer Read

Monday, June 29th, 2009 by Suzanne La Rosa

NewSouth Books was honored to learn that Rheta Grimsley Johnson’s memoir, Poor Man’s Provence: Finding Myself in Cajun Louisiana, was named by the Baton Rouge One Book Community (OBOC) Program as its summer 2009 reading selection. In his message at the OBOC kick-off event, East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor Kip Holden said, “Let us become tourists in our own state and realize once again that whether it’s in the food or the music, [what we have in Louisiana] adds up to a magic that cannot be found anywhere else in this country.” He later added, “I’m hoping that while we read about Rheta Grimsley Johnson’s experiences of putting down roots in Cajun country, we might all find ourselves — and remember what a treasure we have in this great state.”

OBOC is a citywide book club based in Baton Rouge that aims to use a common reading experience to foster dialogue about intellectual and cultural issues. OBOC organizing sponsors include Baton Rouge Community College, East Baton Rouge Parish Library, Forum 35, LSU, Redstick Internet Services, Barnes & Noble, and The Greater Baton Rouge Literacy Coalition.

According to the OBOC press release, greater Baton Rouge area residents are encouraged to read Poor Man’s Provence and to join Rheta Grimsley Johnson for a free public presentation she’ll give on August 20 or to participate in other discussion events. The free event featuring the author happens at 7 pm on Thursday, August 20 at LSU’s Cox Communications Academic Center for Student Athletes; the Cox Center is located on the corner of Fieldhouse and N. Stadium Drives on the LSU Campus. Reading guides and additional information about Poor Man’s Provence and the OBOC program can be found online at

Fire Ants, Others Praised on LibraryThing Website

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009 by Jessica

Fire Ants has recently been reviewed on LibraryThing. Fire Ants, a collection of short stories by Gerald Duff, won a rave review for Duff’s ability to “capture the southern voice honestly.”

LibraryThing member Banoo writes that Duff’s “words cover you like a worn quilt on a cool, humid southern night. Slipping into this book is effortless and more than a little welcoming.” He goes on to praise the depiction of the characters: “His people are real. Some are slightly damaged, broken by hard use over long years, or hungry for something lacking in their environment, or just plain damaged. I couldn’t help but think of Faulkner.”

Other NewSouth titles also cited on LibraryThing include Shlemiel Crooks (LibraryThing), Oracle of the Ages by Dot Moore with Katie Lamar Smith (LibraryThing), and Chicken Man by Michelle Edwards (LibraryThing).

LibraryThing is a community of over 700,000 book lovers where intellectual discussion of and a passion for books is encouraged. Allowing for readers worldwide to discuss their favorite works of literature, Steve Cohen of Public Libraries magazine has proclaimed it “the future of online catalogs.”

Ted Dunagan Wins Georgia Author of the Year Award for A Yellow Watermelon

Monday, June 22nd, 2009 by Lisa Harrison

Ted Dunagan received the Georgia Author of the Year award in the Young Adult category for his debut novel, A Yellow Watermelon, in a ceremony held June 13 at the KSU Center in Kennesaw, Georgia.

The Georgia Author of the Year Award is the oldest literary competition in the southeast. Submissions are evaluated for their narrative quality, creativity, enduring message and ability to evoke emotion. Katherine Mason, Assistant Professor of English Education at Kennesaw State University and lead judge of the Young Adult category said, “A Yellow Watermelon reveals the power of friendship and loyalty to overcome racial and economic prejudice in 1940s South Alabama. Told from twelve-year-old Ted Dillon’s point of view, the story is suspenseful and captivating, with authentic dialogue and engaging sentence variety.”

The Author of the Year award is sponsored by the Georgia Writers Association. See coverage of the winners at the association website. Ted’s hometown newpaper The Monticello News offers coverage as well.

A Yellow Watermelon is available from NewSouth Books, Amazon, or your favorite local or online book retailer.

Foster Dickson Enjoys Black Belt Treasures, Store That Does More

Sunday, June 21st, 2009 by Suzanne La Rosa

Author Foster Dickson writes about a recent book signing at Black Belt Treasures:

Since my book I Just Make People Up: Ramblings With Clark Walker was published, I’ve had a number of book-signings. One of the most rewarding to date was an event at Black Belt Treasures in Camden, Alabama, a few weeks back. Leaving Montgomery, Clark and I eased off of Highway 80 onto State Road 21, heading southwest toward Camden. After about an hour and a half of winding through barely more than fallow green fields bordered by dilapidated barbed wire fence, we got into Camden.

Whether to call Black Belt Treasures a bookstore, or a gift shop, or a gallery, or a cultural center, I don’t know for sure. It’s actually all these things and more. Situated in Camden’s downtown Black Belt Treasures is housed in a stand-alone building with a variety of arts, crafts, books, packaged specialty food items, and clothing on display — some items attractively placed in the windows to lure passersby. Judy Martin, who coordinated our visit, and Sulynn Creswell, who handles the artwork end of things (I think), were very kind and gracious to Clark and me. Copies of I Just Make People Up were set up on a table in the middle of the store, with a pen already sitting beside the stack. While I talked to one man who had arrived early and wanted to ask a few questions, everyone else jumped on the task of bringing in Clark’s paintings, which would also be made available for sale, and getting them hung on the walls.

The day was a good one. I signed some books, and Clark sold some paintings. The pace was steady. The ladies fixed coffee for everyone, and we chatted or browsed during the lulls. And I got an opportunity to notice in the process how vital this store has become to the Camden community. Alabama’s Black Belt is richer for it.

On the way home, Clark and I were both glad that we said yes to the trip. We settled for a eating a fast-food cheeseburger because Gaines Ridge, a semi-famed restaurant right outside of Camden, didn’t seem open. We got back onto route 21, turning left at what appeared to be an abandoned BP station, and headed through the same green fields home — past the now-bustling people at the small local grocery stores or the not-so-bustling ones sitting around their front-yard picnic tables on a Saturday afternoon. Clark and I rode home, northeastward to Montgomery, knowing we’d discovered new friends at a great store in a place we’d never been before.

I Just Make People Up: Ramblings with Clark Walker is available from NewSouth Books, Amazon, or your favorite local or online book retailer.

I Just Make People Up’s Foster Dickson Wins Surdna Arts Fellowship

Thursday, June 18th, 2009 by Lisa Harrison

Foster Dickson, author of I Just Make People Up: Ramblings with Clark Walker and former NewSouth Books editor, has been awarded a $4,200 Fellowship by the Surdna Arts Teacher Fellowship Program. A complementary $1,500 grant will go to Booker T. Washington Magnet High School in Montgomery, Alabama, where Mr. Dickson has taught creating writing for six years.

Mr. Dickson plans to use the money to explore podcasts and letterpress printing as alternative (non-book) media for the distribution of writing. He will conduct an interview series about living in Alabama now in an effort to further his understanding of Alabama as a “place.”

“I am proud to have this opportunity that the Surdna Foundation has afforded me with this fellowship. As our culture changes, our reading habits change. Learning about media other than books is going to help me better prepare my students to be the creative writers of the future,” Dickson said. “To be learnng about these media by using Alabama as the subject is just a bonus to me.”

Mr. Dickson’s skill at interviewing can be enjoyed in I Just Make People Up: Ramblings with Clark Walker, a biography and retrospective of artist Clark Walker’s work that developed from a series of conversations the two men had when they were neighbors. First Draft magazine says, “Foster Dickson’s narrative biography of Clark Walker is a triumph of the as-told-to style of writing.”

I Just Make People Up is available directly from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite local or online book retailer.

National Media Lauds Glen Browder’s South’s New Racial Politics

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009 by Andrew

Scholar and politician Glen Browder’s new book,The South’s New Racial Politics: Inside the Race Game of Southern History, is garnering national attention for its insight into modern race relations in southern politics.

In a recent article, The Associated Press discusses Browder’s life and work, lauding the book’s take on the current state of southern politics.

From the article:

Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia and a frequent contributor on TV talk shows, has read an advance copy and calls Browder’s new book “excellent.”

“What makes this book worthwhile is the combination of the perspectives of the scholar and the politician. It’s a rare combination,” he said.

Sabato said Browder’s book is important because race has been an issue since the founding of America, but few want to tackle it.

Read the full Associated Press article at the USA Today website.

Browder also recently spoke with Alabama’s Thicket magazine about his controversial work. From the Thicket article:

“The change we see in the South today was not produced by the Civil Rights Movement alone,” says Browder. “Throughout the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s there were conscious efforts by white and black politicians and activists to work together to change the Southern political system. To a significant extent, this was done by stealth, through quiet, practical biracial politics that achieved relatively progressive ends. As a result, blacks and whites in the South now engage politically in a way that is qualitatively different than in the past. The race game is still played, but the terms have changed, and mostly for the better.”

Read the full article at the Thicket website.

The South’s New Racial Politics presents an original thesis about how blacks and whites in today’s South engage in a politics that is qualitatively different from the past. Browder, as practitioner and scholar, argues that politicians of the two races now practice an open, sophisticated, biracial game that, arguably, means progress; but it also can bring out old-fashioned, cynical, and racist Southern ways. The lesson to be learned from this interpretative analysis is that the Southern political system, while still constrained by racial problems, is more functional than ever before. Southerners perhaps can now move forward in dealing with their legacy of hard history.

Dr. Glen Browder is professor emeritus of American Democracy at Jacksonville State University in Alabama. He served as U.S. congressman, Alabama secretary of state, and Alabama legislator.

The South’s New Racial Politics is available directly from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite local or online book retailer.

Kathryn Tucker Windham Receives Alabama Living Legacy Award

Thursday, June 4th, 2009 by Lyle

The State Arts Council recently honored Kathryn Tucker Windham and seven other artists for their influence on the arts and culture of Alabama. In the elegant concert hall of the Montgomery Performing Arts Centre, Mrs. Windham accepted the “Alabama Living Legacy Award” for her long career in journalism, fiction writing, and storytelling. Mrs. Windham’s contributions give shape to the modern Southern identity, from her fight for acceptance as a female journalist to her active support of Selma in the 1950s to today, to her storytelling and preservation of Southern lore.

To honor Mrs. Windham, the State Arts Council arranged for her close friend, folk artist Charlie Lucas, speak about his experiences with her as his neighbor. The soft guitar pickings of Bobby Horton were a good backdrop for Mr. Lucas’s warm, funny tribute. Both Lucas and Horton expressed the love and reverence all Alabamians feel for Ms. Windham and her stories.

This year, NewSouth published Mrs. Windham’s newest book, the memoir Spit, Scarey Ann and Sweat Bees: One Thing Leads to Another. The book offers glimpses of Mrs. Windham’s early years growing up with her mother and storytelling father, as well as a mischievous older brother. As readers, we see for the first time how this quintessential Southern storyteller came to be the woman we know today as Kathryn Tucker Windham.

Spit, Scarey Ann, and Sweat Bees is available directly from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite local or online book retailer.

ESPN, Peach County Leader-Tribune Sound Off on Controversial Behind the Hedges

Monday, June 1st, 2009 by Brian Seidman

The Peach County, Georgia Leader-Tribune joins a number of news outlets still talking about reporter Rich Whitt’s controversial book Behind the Hedges: Big Money and Power Politics at the University of Georgia. News Editor Victor Kulkosky felt so incensed by the revelations in Behind the Hedges of the behind-the-scenes politicking at the University of Georgia that he devoted three of his “Out of My Mind” columns to the book.

“Rich Whitt’s book Behind the Hedges … tells the story of UGA President Michael Adams, nearing his twelfth year on the job, but who on paper appears to be failing on a grand scale,” Kulkosky writes. “Adams has bad relationships with faculty, while many of the dedicated alumni of UGA have sworn not to give a penny until he leaves. There are many more issues with Adams, yet he’s still employed.”

In his columns, Kulkosky offers a powerful and incisive examination of the importance of Behind the Hedges and its implications for the state of Georgia. “Our state’s higher education system is inseparable from its future,” he continues. “North Carolina and Florida appear to have brighter futures. I know there are many UGA alumni among my readers, but everybody associated with the University System of Georgia should ask the question All State likes to ask, ‘Are you in good hands?’ I have my doubts.”

Read Victor Kulkosky’s May 13, May 20, and May 27 columns about Behind the Hedges.

Kulkosky joins ESPN columnist Ivan Maisel, who calls Behind the Hedges “meticulous” in his “3-Point Stance” column. “If you like your campus politics served hot, read Behind the Hedges,” Maisel writes. And Columbus, Georgia, writer Richard Hyatt recommends Behind the Hedges in his May 11 Mirabeau column, along with the Sports Business Daily “Book Shelf.”

Behind the Hedges: Big Money and Power Politics at the University of Georgia is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite local or online bookseller. Read excerpts from the book through Google Book Search.