Archive for June, 2010

Roger Reid wins Emmy for “Alabama in Space”

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010 by Lisa Harrison

Roger Reid, writer and producer of the popular Alabama Public Television series Discovering Alabama and author of the young adult novels Space and Longleaf, received a Southeast Regional EMMY Award for Outstanding Achievement for his work as writer of a Discovering Alabama episode titled “Alabama in Space.”

In a ceremony held in Atlanta last week, National Academy of Arts and Sciences colleagues from around the South recognized Reid’s work as a writer of a “non-news program.”

The honored episode focused on Alabama’s involvement in the space program, which helped to put a man on the moon 40 year ago, and discussed “what the journey has helped us discover right here on Earth,” says Reid “This award would not have been possible without the direct involvement of friends at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. These are many of the same folks who helped me develop the science content of my novel Space.”

Space is a fast-moving story that incorporates factual information about astronomy and America’s space program into its intriguing tale of suspicion and pursuit.

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

Remembering Robert Byrd

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010 by Randall Williams

The passing this week of Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia makes one miss the days when Southern politicians were complicated rather than merely crass. Yes, Byrd clung to office longer than he should have. Yes, he was a master of pork barrel spending. Yes, he lined up with the states’ rights and nullification Dixiecrats in the 1960s. But — like his fellow former Klansman Hugo Black of Alabama — he overcame his racist upbringing and became a supporter of civil rights, a defender of the promises of a living Constitution, and a champion of the poor and middle classes. Even the billions of dollars of federal spending he channeled into West Virginia seemed calculated to boost Appalachia and not himself.

In recent years, Byrd seemed especially prescient on the dangers of the imperial presidency, the willingness of Congress to give up its authority over budgets and foreign policy, and the risks to the nation of deregulation, militarism, and corporatism.

It is worth remembering, as NewSouth correspondent Wayne Sabel did this morning, Byrd’s post-mortem on George W. Bush’s ruinous rush to war in Iraq:

The run up to our invasion of Iraq featured the President and members of his cabinet invoking every frightening image they could conjure, from mushroom clouds, to buried caches of germ warfare, to drones poised to deliver germ laden death in our major cities. We were treated to a heavy dose of overstatement concerning Saddam Hussein’s direct threat to our freedoms. The tactic was guaranteed to provoke a sure reaction from a nation still suffering from a combination of post traumatic stress and justifiable anger after the attacks of 9-11. It was the exploitation of fear. It was a placebo for the anger.

What has become painfully clear in the aftermath of war is that Iraq was no immediate threat to the U.S. Ravaged by years of sanctions, Iraq did not even lift an airplane against us. Iraq’s threatening death-dealing fleet of unmanned drones about which we heard so much morphed into one prototype made of plywood and string. Their missiles proved to be outdated and of limited range. Their army was quickly overwhelmed by our technology and our well trained troops.

The American people unfortunately are used to political shading, spin, and the usual chicanery they hear from public officials. They patiently tolerate it up to a point. But there is a line. It may seem to be drawn in invisible ink for a time, but eventually it will appear in dark colors, tinged with anger. When it comes to shedding American blood — when it comes to wreaking havoc on civilians, on innocent men, women, and children, callous dissembling is not acceptable. Nothing is worth that kind of lie — not oil, not revenge, not reelection, not somebody’s grand pipedream of a democratic domino theory.

And mark my words, the calculated intimidation which we see so often of late by the ‘powers that be’ will only keep the loyal opposition quiet for just so long. Because eventually, like it always does, the truth will emerge. And when it does, this house of cards, built of deceit, will fall.

— Sen. Robert C. Byrd, 1917-2010, in speech on the Senate floor, May 21, 2003

One hopes those words will also be remembered and reflected on as Byrd’s colleagues in Congress memorialize him this week.

More on SEF child poverty report

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010 by Randall Williams

Southern Education Foundation vice president Steve Suitts (author of Hugo Black of Alabama) has followed up on the SEF’s recent report on expanding child poverty with an article on the Southern Spaces website. (Southern Spaces is “an interdisciplinary journal about the regions, places, and cultures of the American South.” Sort of like NewSouth Books.)

Suitts writes: “The Worst of Times: Children in Extreme Poverty in the South and Nation raises serious questions about the impact and validity of current educational policies and practices at every level on children in extreme poverty. These children exist in significant numbers in school districts in every region and state in the country. But, no educational policy at any level today acknowledges America’s large population of children in extreme poverty and the extraordinary challenges they face in education.”

Southern Education Foundation releases distressing child poverty report in the South

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 by Randall Williams

Steve Suitts, author of NewSouth’s critically acclaimed biography, Hugo Black of Alabama, is also a senior staff member at the Atlanta-based Southern Education Foundation (SEF), which has just released a distressing new report on the extent of child poverty in the South.

“The Worst of Times: Children in Extreme Poverty in the South and Nation” finds that a large, growing number of children in the South and the nation live in extreme poverty—surviving on less than eight dollars per day. The report calls for the White House and the U.S. Department of Education to establish a national commission to assess the educational needs of children in extreme poverty.

The SEF report analyzes the latest census data and patterns on children in extreme poverty. More than 5.7 million children lived in extreme poverty in the United States in 2008 in a household with an income below 50 percent of the federal poverty line—and 2.4 million or 42 percent of those children lived in the South.

The SEF report estimates that the recent recession has expanded the number of children in extreme poverty by approximately 26 percent—adding almost 1.5 million children in extreme poverty across the nation since 2008.

The report also finds that:

* School districts with high concentrations of extremely poor children have a disproportionately large enrollment of students of color—primarily African Americans and Hispanics.

* School districts with the largest reported percentages of extremely poor children appear to have the least money to educate these children in the schools.

* Local, state or federal policies in education fail to specifically address the needs of the nation’s poorest children.

SEF’s report includes an appendix that lists the 100 school districts in the US with the highest rates of extreme child poverty and a list of the school districts with no extreme poverty among children.

The full report or a 4-page summary can both be accessed at The Southern Education Foundation.

Gerald Duff published in Clapboard House, recalls past meeting with Eudora Welty

Friday, June 11th, 2010 by Andrew

Clapboard House, an online magazine focused on Southern writing, recently published “You Will Need One Egg,” by NewSouth author Gerald Duff, in their Eudora Welty tribute issue. Honoring the 101st anniversary of Welty’s birth, Clapboard House called for submissions responding to a Welty quote on the writing of fiction:

“Greater than scene is situation. Greater than situation is implication. Greater than all these is a single, entire human being, who will never be confined in any frame.”

“You Will Need One Egg” is a story Duff modeled after unique characters in Welty’s short stories “Petrified Man” and “Why I Live at the PO.”

“My first-person narrative is my modest attempt to copy what Miss Welty achieves so brilliantly in her two toweringly delightful tales,” Duff said. “In the process, I learned anew what genius resides in her writing and how inspiring and inimitable her work can be.”

Duff’s knowledge of Eudora Welty doesn’t completely rely on her published works. Years ago, he had the chance to share an hour of drinks with the author at the famed Peabody Hotel Lobby Bar in Memphis, Tennessee.

“It was delightful to listen to one of America’s great short story writers chat about funny events from her past, interesting people she’d met, uniquely Memphian cocktail drinkers in the Peabody Lobby Bar, and why she liked to tell stories,” said Duff. “I recall her saying, ‘I like to see how the line of character plays out in events and situations, how what a person is won’t allow him or her to do anything other than what they are bound to do. And I like to show them never realizing that as they move to the steps of the dance of time and circumstance.’ I’m not able to quote Miss Welty precisely, but that’s the essence of what she said. I only wish I’d had a recorder to capture it truly.”

Gerald Duff is also the author of the NewSouth-published Fire Ants and Other Stories.

Fire Ants is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite local or online retailer.

NewSouth to republish Lewis Grizzard bestseller, October tribute weekend in the works

Thursday, June 10th, 2010 by Andrew

Widely regarded as one of the South’s most beloved humorists and storytellers, Lewis Grizzard is back in print through NewSouth Books. Wildly popular in its first run, They Tore Out My Heart and Stomped That Sucker Flat sold over 100,000 copies and was a New York Times bestseller.

In They Tore Out My Heart, the late Lewis Grizzard recounts in a series of heartening yet undeniably humorous vignettes the lifelong struggles of his heart—both physical and emotional, real and imagined—that led to major heart surgery in his mid-thirties. From musings of early unrequited attempts at love to three marriages and divorces to the early detection of heart troubles that would follow him throughout his life, Grizzard manages to tackle weighty issues with his characteristically irreverent sense of humor.

In addition to NewSouth’s republication of They Tore Out My Heart, Grizzard’s hometown of Moreland, Georgia is holding a tribute festival in his honor on October 16-17. With a wide range of events planned, there’s something for every Grizzard fan at the festival. A Grizzard look alike contest is planned, as well as a cooking contest involving his favorite foods, namely grits. Several of Grizzard’s longtime friends will host a roast-style storytelling time, and Bill Oberst, Jr., a longtime Grizzard tribute actor will perform his live stage show over the weekend.

Grizzard’s widow Dedra, who also assisted in setting up the festival, will be present to sign copies of the newly republished They Tore Out My Heart

They Tore Out My Heart and Stomped That Sucker Flat will be available in August from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite local or online retailer.

The South’s New Racial Politics extolled in Press-Register, Glen Browder quoted in New York Times

Monday, June 7th, 2010 by Andrew

The Mobile Press-Register recently reviewed Glen Browder’s The South’s New Racial Politics: Inside the Race Game of Southern History, praising his efforts in presenting his original thesis about how blacks and whites in today’s South engage in a politics that is qualitatively different from the past.

Both a political scientist and former politician, Browder argues in The South’s New Racial Politics 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.

“Browder’s book is not light reading, but his insights as a political scientist and an elected official are worth the reader’s effort,” said Michael Thomason of the Mobile Press-Register. “If you have to read it twice to really understand him, as I did, you will be glad you went to the trouble!”

Read the full review at the Mobile Press-Register.

The New York Times recently quoted Browder in an article surrounding Alabama democratic gubernatorial hopeful Artur Davis’s efforts to create an Obama style coalition campaign of black and white supporters in his bid to become the first black governor of Alabama.

“He’s taking a bold and risky gamble with an eye toward the general election, trying to establish himself as a new-style candidate, who is not the black candidate for the Alabama governorship,” Browder said. “The course he is taking is a roll of the dice.”

Read the full New York Times article.

Glen Browder is also the author of the NewSouth published Stealth Reconstruction: An Untold Story of Racial Politics in Recent Southern History, in which he discusses the fascinating story of the unheroic, quiet, practical, biracial work of some white politicians and black leaders during the post-civil rights movement era.

The South’s New Racial Politics and Stealth Reconstruction are available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite local or online retailer.

NewSouth’s Sam Starnes leads novel workshop, featured in Philadelphia’s Star

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010 by Lisa Harrison

Joe Samuel “Sam” Starnes, author of the novel tentatively called Fall Line, forthcoming from NewSouth Books, conducted a novel writing workshop along with novelist Tenaya Darlington at Port Richmond Books in Philadelphia last month. The event featured discussions on the writing process, character development, and point of view and place. According to an article in Philadelphia’s Star newspaper, writers Starnes and Darlington see the workshop as an important step in forming a writing community in which members will encourage each other.

“I was in a writers’ group for almost 10 years and I watched one woman write two novels, and finish them, but it was really interesting to hear someone bring a novel together chapter after chapter, and I felt it gave me a road map,” explained Darlington, a native of Wisconsin. “I was really inspired by that process.”

Darlington and Starnes hope to make the workshop a monthly event, eventually expanding topic discussions to include short fiction and non-fiction.

Starnes, who works professionally as a freelance journalist, has experience in many styles of writing. He has published novels, short stories, poems, magazine and newspaper articles, and he also writes a blog. His next novel is due out from NewSouth Books in 2011. Fall Line is the powerful and suspenseful story of how the lives of one rural Georgia community are affected by the 1955 damming of a river by the power company, which results in the forming of an enormous lake.