Archive for November, 2009

Ted Dunagan Enjoys Savannah Book Festival, Coastal Middle School, Paula Deen Treats

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009 by Lisa Harrison

There are two things Georgia Author of the Year award-winner Ted Dunagan enjoys almost as much as writing. The first is presenting about his book, A Yellow Watermelon, to an interested audience, especially school children. The second is Southern cooking, especially when the menu includes corn bread and collard greens. He got a big helping of both on his recent visit to Savannah, Georgia, in connection with the Savannah Children’s Book Festival.

The Georgia Center for the Book invited Ted to participate as a special guest at the festival and to speak at area schools. Ted Dunagan recalled his trip with delight in a recent column for The Monticello News. Ted particularly enjoyed meeting with the students at Coastal Middle School, where some 200 youngsters had read his novel A Yellow Watermelon and were eager to hear from the author. Ted engaged his audience with a discussion about the writing process, his inspirations as a writer, the underlying history of his book, and what it was like to grow up in the rural south in the 1940s. A lively question-and-answer session followed.

At the festival, Ted held forth in the Georgia Center for the Book’s tent with two hour-long presentations. The best part, Ted wrote in his column, “was when several kids from the schools I visited showed up with their parents to get their signed copy of the book.” The perfect ending to a satisfying trip was a meal at Paula Deen’s The Lady and Sons restaurant. Ted looks forward to another enjoyable visit to Savannah next year.

A Yellow Watermelon is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite retail or online book seller.

New Jewish author website and Shlemiel Crooks audio from Anna Olswanger

Friday, November 20th, 2009 by Lisa Harrison

Shlemiel Crooks by Anna OlswangerAnna Olswanger, author of Shlemiel Crooks, is involved in the Jewish book world as both an author and literary agent. Her twin lives intersect in a website she developed, called, which was recently acquired by the Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity. It’s a move that Olswanger says will allow her site and the CJCC to “combine the proverbial strength with strength.” is a free web source of information on Jewish-themed books worldwide. The Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity undertakes projects that address Jewish identity and Jewish community through the medium of arts and culture.

Olswanger’s award-winning children’s book, Shlemiel Crooks, published by NewSouth Books in both hardcover and trade paperback (new!), continues to receive nice notices, including a review from, which calls the book a “charming tale” and “an imaginative introduction to the history of Passover.” The reviewer adds that the book “captures the heart of the immigrant experience.”

Many reviewers have commented on the musicality and great read-aloud character of Shlemiel Crooks. A new audio clip from the book lets you hear the text for the first time. You can find the link on NewSouth’s website and also at Download the audio clip of Shlemiel Crooks and listen in!

Shlemiel Crooks is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite retail or online book seller.

This Day in Civil Rights History – Art Taylor of Metro Magazine Says It All

Monday, November 16th, 2009 by Suzanne La Rosa

We thought Diane McWhorter had it right in her comments about This Day in Civil Rights History by Horace Randall Williams and Ben Beard. She called the volume “a wonderful compendium” and also “a compellingly readable sampling of historic events both well known and obscure, inspiring and appalling.” But in his Arts & Literature blog review for our new book, Art Taylor identifies one of the book’s key features: 

“While most of the events commemorated here fall during the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s—what we traditionally think of as the Civil Rights Era—the book importantly stretches outside of that narrowest of definitions. On September 20, for example, you’ll learn that Maryland passed the nation’s first miscegenation laws on that date in 1664—and that Alabama was the last state to hang on to such laws, right up into the 21st century. And the span of that entry is important, because the book stresses that civil rights news and issues persist up to to very recent history, whether the Confederate flag controversy in 1998 (October 14) or the reopening of the Emmett Till murder case in 2004 (May 10).”

In his introduction to the book, Horace Randall Williams, who happens also to be a founding partner in NewSouth Books and our company’s editor-in-chief, says, “This book takes the long view that the civil rights movement began with slavery and continues to the present day. The 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery March is here, of course, but so is the 1917 parade organized by the NAACP of 10,000 silently tramping down New York City’s Fifth Avenue to protest the St. Louis race riot. Rosa Parks is here, of course, but so is freedman David Ruggles, who filed a lawsuit in 1841 after being dragged out of a whites-only railroad car. The famous Tuskegee Airman of World War II fame are here, but so is Robert Smalls, a slave who commandeered a Confederate ship in 1862 and sailed it out of Charleston Harbor and turned it over to the Union navy. The 1664 passage of the nation’s first miscegenation law is here, but so is the 2003 announcement by a biracial South Carolina woman that she was the daughter of Strom Thurmond.”

Today’s entry commemorates the life and death in the year 2000 of Georgia activist Hosea Williams.

Thanks, Art, for the fulsome review.

This Day In Civil Rights History is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite local or online book retailer.

Kathryn Tucker Windham Enjoys Visit from Auburn Journalism Students

Sunday, November 15th, 2009 by Brian Seidman

When Auburn University journalism students visited celebrated Alabama author and storyteller Kathryn Tucker Windham’s Selma home late last week, they probably never expected to hear the Auburn fight song played on a comb. The students, who had read Mrs. Windham’s journalism memoir Odd-Egg Editor in Professor Ed Williams’ Newswriting class, presented Mrs. Windham with an Auburn T-shirt and were rewarded with a rousing “War Eagle!” in return.

Mrs. Windham formerly worked as a reporter for the Alabama Journal in Montgomery, the Birmingham News, and the Selma Times-Journal, and she spoke with the students about her newspaper experiences, and answered their questions about journalism and storytelling. Both the interviewer and the interviewees became the story, as a Selma Times-Journal reporter arrived to document the visit.

You can see photographs from Kathryn Tucker Windham’s visit with the students at the NewSouth Books Facebook page.

You can also watch a video of Kathryn Tucker Windham teaching the students to play the Auburn University fight song on a comb.

NewSouth Books recently published Kathyrn Tucker Windham’s latest book, the memoir Spit Scarey Ann and Sweat Bees: One Thing Leads to Another. Also available, Alabama, One Big Front Porch and Jeffrey’s Favorite 13 Ghost Stories.

Wade Hall’s Abraham Lincoln Projects, Plus Plays on Hank Williams and W.C. Handy

Friday, November 13th, 2009 by Lisa Harrison

Wade Hall has been busy, very busy. Author of Conecuh People, a moving collection of oral histories from rural Alabama published by NewSouth Books, Dr. Hall performed an excerpt from his one-man play, One Man’s Lincoln, at the Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship in Montgomery, Alabama on November 6. Hall was honored to have an excerpt from this same play included in the production Our Lincoln staged at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. last February. The production is now available on DVD from the Kentucky Arts Council.

Separately, Dr. Hall has written a delightfully conceived work on the same subject, called Interview With Abraham Lincoln, which NewSouth Books will publish early next year. In the book, a fictional reporter named Shelby Grider speaks to our nation’s 16th president two days before he leaves Washington to reclaim Virginia and her Southern sisters for the Union. Lincoln’s words come directly from the historical record, but the interview format gives him voice. In a marvelous act of compression (the book is short), Hall gives a lively impression of the President, one which allows an understanding of Lincoln’s personal history and character and the breadth of his thinking as leader of our nation.

In other pursuits, Hall is working on plays about Hank Williams and W. C. Handy. He is also completing work on a collection of verse, A Conecuh Anthology: Poems from Conecuh Country.

Conecuh People, published by NewSouth Books, is an intimate collection of oral history interviews that captures the lives of the people who were once the backbone of the rural South. The interviews are elevated to art by the skill of Dr. Hall, who left his home in Bullock County, Alabama, after high school and became a college professor and well-known author in Kentucky, but who has returned now to live in the community where he grew up.

Conecuh People is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite local or online retailer.

Robert Baldwin to Address Annual Witness to Innocence Convention

Friday, November 13th, 2009 by Lisa Harrison

Life and Death Matters by Robert BaldwinRobert Baldwin, author of Life and Death Matters: Seeking the Truth About Capital Punishment, will speak at the closing ceremony of the Witness to Innocence annual convention in Birmingham, Alabama on November 15. Dr. Baldwin’s talk, entitled “How I Changed, How You Can Change Others,” describes his personal spiritual journey–from a belief in the legitimacy and social value of execution to his present-day position that the practice is morally and socially wrong.

In his desire to advocate on behalf of those facing death-row sentences, he teams up this month with Witness to Innocence, an organization dedicated to bringing attention to those who have been wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death for crimes they did not commit, and later exonerated of the charges. Twenty-five such death-row exonorees and their families will be present at the convention.

Life and Death Matters is also a featured “New Book” on the website of Death Penalty Focus, an organization which seeks alternatives to capital punishment.

Life and Death Matters is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite retail or online book seller.

Teddy’s Child Lauded by Alabama Press

Friday, November 6th, 2009 by Lisa Harrison

Teddy’s Child: Growing Up in the Anxious Southern Gentry between the Great Wars, by Dr. Virginia Hamilton, has received sterling reviews from First Draft magazine, the Mobile Press-Register, and the Birmingham News. Dr. Hamilton’s book explores the deep roots of family and place in her coming-of-age memoir set in Birmingham, Alabama, in the period between World Wars I and II. She considers the shadows of both the genteel poverty her family fell into during the Great Depression, and of the inescapable family ailment of mental depression and what were then called nervous disorders.

From First Draft:

Teddy’s Child: Growing Up in the Anxious Southern Gentry Between the Great Wars is about the failures and accomplishments of the author’s eccentric family, but the themes extend beyond Hamilton’s family to comment on the struggles of humanity: the dreams individuals reach to possess and the nobility, and at times futility, of that effort.

From the Press-Register:

One of the fascinating things about this book is how readers will identify with some things and marvel at others. It encourages us all to try to assemble and present our childhood memories to younger family members. Perhaps we won’t come close to Virginia Hamilton’s style, but we will be animated by it as we try.

From the Birmingham News:

Southern fiction writers have traditionally created eccentric characters who are intriguing to readers, and Southerners have reputations for embracing local characters who are a bit batty. Capote, O’Connor and Faulkner come to mind. Every good Southern story and town has at least one such character. This book has several.

For anyone who has memories of the years “between the Great Wars” (in Birmingham or elsewhere) or for those who wish to know more about a simpler time of ‘possum hunts, summer trips without interstate highways, home-produced operas and musicals, a time when homemade beaten biscuits and croquettes were staples, this memoir, which includes numerous family photographs, will take you there.

Teddy’s Child is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite local or online retailer.

Paul Gaston Interviewed for New Charlottesville Initiative on Race Relations

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009 by Andrew

Maurice Jones of the city of Charlottesville, Virginia recently interviewed Paul Gaston — author of the NewSouth published Coming of Age in Utopia: The Odyssey of an Idea — for Dialogue On Race, a new city initiative designed to improve race relations. The new program promises to bring people of diverse races and backgrounds together to find new ways to move forward together as a community.

Topics Gaston discussed include his life as a southern historian, his work as a civil rights activist, and the progressive change he’s witnessed over the past forty years in Charlottesville and at the University of Virginia.

In the interview, Gaston discussed his beginnings as both a teacher and civil rights activist. “As a student in college in the early 1950s, it was clear to me that the big issue coming to the South and the nation was the issue of civil rights,” he said. “I was looking for somewhere to enter the civil rights movement, and I decided what I’d like to do was teach southern history in a southern university and hold up a mirror to these students.”

Gaston also discussed his activist role during the civil rights movement in Charlottesville, noting that change didn’t come to the city overnight. “One thing I learned is that rational argument, evidence, and civil discussion did not change people’s minds,” he said. “Martin Luther King, Jr. was right — you had to shake people up. So we had sit-ins and soon all of the community’s attention was focused on what we were doing.”

Gaston reflected that these small steps weren’t necessarily great things, but given the context of the time, were transitional and made a difference. “That was a turning of the coin,” he said, “and I was lucky to be a part of it.”

Though he acknowledged there’s been great changes in Charlottesville and at the University of Virginia, Gaston remains adamant much work involving race relations remains, saying, “The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — those weren’t final triumphs. They were steps that cleared the way for important work, and there’s much work to be done.”

Watch the full interview at the City of Charlottesville website.

Paul Gaston’s life and work has earned him a reputation as one of the most respected southern historians in the country, and his new memoir, Coming of Age in Utopia: The Odyssey of an Idea, chronicles his life as an agent of change from the shores of Mobile Bay, Alabama to the streets and classrooms of Charlottesville and the University of Virginia. NewSouth also published Gaston’s highly regarded The New South Creed: A Study in Southern Mythmaking, considered to be one of the most influential works of Southern history of the twentieth century.

Coming of Age in Utopia is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite local or online book retailer.

Billy Moore to Sign Copies of New Western

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009 by Lisa Harrison

Copies might be scarce. But NewSouth would be remiss not to mention that Billy Moore, author of Cracker’s Mule and Little Brother Real Snake, has a UK publisher for his new western The Staked Plains. This novel features a buffalo hide hunter, a Texas ranch woman and Comanche Indians in a tale of survival in the Old West.

Congratulations Billy! Mr. Moore will be signing copies of The Staked Plains on Saturday, November 7 at the Chautauqua building in Defuniak Springs, Florida during the Peddler’s Alley event. He will also sign copies of his young adult novels Cracker’s Mule and Little Brother Real Snake.

Cracker’s Mule tells the story of Cracker, a boy spending a summer with his grandparents on their farm as a refuge from the polio scare of the 1950s, learns life lessons when he unwittingly buys a blind mule at an auction and must suffer ridicule while caring for the animal he comes to love.

Little Brother Real Snake is the coming-of-age tale of Red Squirrel, a Plains Indian youth. In accepting the challenges of his initiation into manhood, Red Squirrel grows in self-knowledge, learns the lessons of his elders, and wins the hand of the lovely Pale Moon.

Cracker’s Mule and Little Brother Real Snake are available from NewSouth Books or your favorite retail or online bookseller.

Frye Gaillard on Tour with Southern Girl’s Kathryn Scheldt

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009 by Lisa Harrison

Author Frye Gaillard continues to develop new outlets for his creativity. Frye — the author of Watermelon Wine: The Spirit of Country Music, considered one of the best books ever published on the history of country music — is one of the South’s hardest-working journalists, with a wide-ranging interest in culture and history. He has published many books, and is ever investigating new territory.

Recently, he shows he has a related talent, that of song-writing. And he’s doing a tour now in connection with Southern Girl, a new CD on which he and country recording artist Kathryn Scheldt have collaborated. Frye is co-producer of the CD and has co-written a number of songs on it; Kathryn Scheldt is singer and co-writer. Around this new CD he’s put together a small program in which Frye speaks about the themes of the music and the way Southern music often serves a literary purpose, then Kathryn performs. Gaillard describes the music as in a “country-folk-Americana groove.”

Frye and Kathryn are taking this musical lecture program on the road, with stops in Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee. The program is part song and part commentary and 100% fun. In April 2010, the duo will appear at the Alabama Book Festival in Montgomery. In addition, they can be heard on WTSU radio on November 6.

Baldwin County NOW recently featured a piece in which Frye recalled his first meeting with Kathryn, at a Mobile Sunday service held in the wake of Hurricane Katrina:

“The late autumn sun (was) slanting through the windows, as she sang of hope and mercy and despair,” Gaillard would later write on the liner notes of “Getting Ready,” Scheldt’s first CD, released in 2007. “There was a power in the lyrics that seemed inseparable from the strength of her voice — a rich contralto that was different from anything I had heard.”

Lagniappe newspaper praises Gaillard as a “sharp writer with a clear, honest voice who has done his research on the nature and evolution of country music. Collaborating with country songstress Scheldt seemed like a natural fit.”

Visit Frye Gaillard’s website at

Watermelon Wine is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite retail or online bookseller.