Archive for February, 2011

Working the Dirt editor Jennifer Horne discusses Southernness, shows her writing talent

Monday, February 28th, 2011 by Noelle Matteson

Working the Dirt

The talented poet and editor who gave NewSouth Books Working the Dirt, its highly praised anthology of Southern verse, admits she didn’t always have her hands in Southern soil. Authors’ site Red Room recently featured her blog entry, “Is I is or Is I ain’t a Southerner?” Red Room is a “social hub,” a site where one can buy books, connect with authors and book lovers, and find content written by “many of the world’s greatest writers,” both published and unpublished.

As Horne asks, “Is I is or Is I ain’t a Southerner?” She finds that she fits the bill because she says “fixin’ to” and once requested a skillet for her birthday. However, she’s never “chopped cotton or killed a hog.” Horne wonders if the very act of questioning her Southernness is in itself a sign of being Southern.

Online literary journal Southern Women’s Review, which showcases works by Southerners or Southern transplants, also selected Horne’s short story “Business or Pleasure” (found on page 28).

“Business or Pleasure” is a brief but powerful piece about a lawyer who ventures out of her comfort zone one night in a hotel. The intelligent, relatable heroine is forced to examine what roles choice and chance play in her life.

Horne grew up in Arkansas and currently lives in Alabama. She compiled, edited, and contributed to NewSouth’s Working the Dirt: An Anthology of Southern Poets, including works by what New York Times LifeBeat columnist Sharon Lovejoy said were the “finest line-up of Southern poets imaginable.”

Working the Dirt is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite online or retail bookseller.

Praise for Ken Robbins’s play In the River

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011 by Sam Robards

The City of Churches by Ken Robbins

Ken Robbins has been busy writing and editing lately and making news. Robbins is the author of a NewSouth-published novel called The City of Churches, a fictional account of two men whose lives were forever changed by a civil rights-related church bombing in a story inspired by real events that happened at the Sixteenth Street Church in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963.

Recently, Robbins’s play In The River has been performed in Washington, D.C., as part of the Source Theatre Festival and was selected for publication in “Literary Laundry,” an online journal published out of Stanford University.

In her review for the Source Theatre Festival, Debbie Jackson said:

… “In the River” by Ken Robbins, directed by Mellissa-Leigh Bustamante and Kjerstin Lysne, is the most mesmerizing piece I’ve seen that covers disturbing cultural alliances fueled by ancient tribal hatreds, within a Slovak and middle eastern context, that is so experiential it almost defies description. It is exquisitely performed by Robert Bromley as the Fisherman and Kelly Mayfield as the River with couplets of characters offering asides, commentary and observations, and an emotional impact that must be seen to be believed.

Robbins also had his essay “The Healing Power of Butoh” published by Cambridge Scholars Press as a segment in Performing Consciousness.

In addition, Robbins and his wife, Dorothy Dodge Robbins, edited Christmas Stories from Ohio, newly published last year by Kent State University Press. The book was honored as the Book of the Year for Literary Anthologies by

The City of Churches is available from NewSouth Books, or your favorite retail or online bookseller.

Two upcoming Fairytale Trilogy events with Valerie Gribben

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011 by Sam Robards

The Fairytale Trilogy by Valerie Gribben

NewSouth is pleased to announce two upcoming events celebrating the release of Valerie Gribben’s newest novel The Fairytale Trilogy.

On her Fairytale Market blog, Valerie says that she has a special surprise for the first ten people who buy her book: they’ll get a copy of her first novel, Fairytale, for free!

As Valerie writes on her blog:

Valerie Gribben, a UAB medical student and author, signs copies of her latest novel, The Fairytale Trilogy, which chronicle the adventures of Marianne and her brother Robin as they come of age in an enchanted land where frogs talk, fantastical creatures prowl, and danger doesn’t stop at the edge of a dark forest.

Friday, February 25 from 5-8 PM at the Little Professor Bookstore in Birmingham. Details: 205-870-7461,, or

Saturday, February 26 from 2-4 PM at Capitol Book and News in Montgomery. Details: 334-265-1473,, or

The Fairytale Trilogy is available from NewSouth Books, or your favorite retail or online bookseller.

Clyde Bolton wins Clarence Cason Award

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011 by Sam Robards

For the second year in a row, a NewSouth Books author was named to receive the Clarence Cason Award, presented by the journalism department of the University of Alabama’s College of Communication and Information Sciences. The award recognizes exemplary non-fiction over a long career. Rheta Grimsley Johnson was last year’s award-winner.

This year, the honor goes to Clyde Bolton, who’s had a distinguished 46-year career as a newspaper journalist and is the author of many fine works of non-fiction, including most recently a memoir published by NewSouth, called Hadacol Days: A Southern Boyhood, and also Stop the Presses (So I Can Get Off).

The Clarence Cason Award announcement follows several recent articles praising Bolton, his illustrious career, and the charm of his latest memoir.

You don’t have to be older to enjoy Hadacol Days: A Southern Boyhood, an effervescent story about growing up in small-town Georgia in the 1940s and ’50s. But as George Smith observes in a recent Anniston Star column, “it’s a warm read, a delightful read, and a good guess is if you’re of Clyde’s generation and mine you lived the read.”

Joe VanHoose in the Athens Banner-Herald also praised Hadacol Days. He noted that the book from this “renowned Southern sportswriter” is not “just a memoir; it’s a tribute to a different time and place.”

In a story that ran a few weeks back in The Daily Home, Clyde tells how he became a sports reporter by covering church softball games for the Anniston Star, then segueing his brief experience there into a full-fledged job at the LaGrange Daily News. Queried in the article about getting a job at The Birmingham News, where he worked for a good many years, Bolton says “I would have cleaned commodes there.”

As the Daily Home observes, Hadacol — an elixir of 12% alcohol that was supposed to cure anything — isn’t around anymore, but thankfully gifted writers like Bolton are here to remember the popularity of the concoction among high school kids.

Bolton has been honored repeatedly for his work, including by the Associated Press. He has also received the All-American Football Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award, is three-time Alabama Sports Columnist of the Year, and in 2001 he was inducted into the Alabama Sports Writers Hall of Fame. The Clarence Cason award is the crowning achievement in a distinguished career of journalism and fiction and non-fiction writing.

Tickets for the dinner honoring Bolton are $60. The event will begin with a 6 p.m. reception. Bolton will accept the award and speak at the dinner. To order tickets, phone Sheila Davis at 205/348-4787.

Hadacol Days is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite retail or online bookseller.

Wings of Opportunity author Julie Williams inducted to First Flight Society

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011 by Sam Robards

Wings of Opportunity by Julie Williams

Julie Williams had an exciting day when she was granted membership to the First Flight Society. The society, which seeks to memorialize the Wright Brothers’ accomplishments and promote aviation, inducted Williams, author of Wings of Opportunity: The Wright Brothers in Montgomery, Alabama, 1910, at a recent organization event.

Julie sent us her impressions from the event:

I have been honored this week with a membership in the First Flight Society in connection with my work on the Wright Brothers in Alabama, as shown in my book, Wings of Opportunity:  The Wright Brothers in Montgomery, Alabama, 1910.  I was invited to speak about the Wright Brothers in Alabama on the 107th anniversary of the first flight, made by Wilbur and Orville Wright in 1903 at Kitty Hawk, NC.  In fact, I spoke to the Society at Kitty Hawk.

I gave the address to the First Flight Society at the invitation of Lois Smith, whose grandfather, John T. Daniels, took the famous picture of the first flight.  This was very significant for me, as my two sisters had Lois as a social studies teacher in 7th grade when we were growing up in Raleigh, NC.  I didn’t have her as a teacher and was so disappointed!  She had connections to that famous photo, and she got to go to the coast every December 17 on the anniversary of the first flight in order to take part in many festivities. I found that so fascinating as a youngster.  I never dreamed that 39 years later I would accompany her.  It was a delight to FINALLY get Lois as my “teacher!”

Julie and Wings of Opportunity were also mentioned on Birmingham Fox 6’s Good Day, Alabama morning show. Susan Swagler of Birmingham Magazine and the Turn the Page blog named Wings of Opportunity a recommended read about an unknown chapter in Alabama’s aviation history.

Wings of Opportunity:  The Wright Brothers in Montgomery, Alabama, 1910 is available from NewSouth Books, or your favorite retail or online bookseller.

Alabama Air National Guard’s role in Bay of Pigs recalled in Wings of Denial, reissued for 50th anniversary

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011 by Lisa Harrison

April 19, 2011 marks the 50th anniversary of the Bay of Pigs invasion. In connection with the anniversary, NewSouth Books has reissued Wings of Denial: The Alabama Air National Guard’s Covert Role at the Bay of Pigs by Warren Trest and Don Dodd.

Told within the larger story of bureaucratic bungling and indecision at the highest levels in Washington, Wings of Denial is a tribute to a group of unsung Alabama heroes — Air National Guard volunteers who trained the Cuban freedom fighters and then flew into combat in a desperate attempt to save them when the CIA-backed invasion failed. Four of the guardsmen made the ultimate sacrifice, a closely guarded secret these many years. This is their story.

Colonel Haas, a retired US Air Force colonial, calls Wings of Denial “a superb account of one of the darkest tragedies of the Cold War era” that “describes in chilling detail the bloody impact of JFK’s personal intervention . . .”

Says author Trest, “Wings of Denial is a favorite book of mine. I am glad to see it back in print because it honors a valiant group of Alabama warriors at a critical time in our nation’s history.”

Warren Trest and former Alabama Governor John Patterson, who was governor at the time of the Bay of Pigs incident, will be speaking throughout the year commemorating the events of April 1961. Among other engagements, they are the guest speakers at the Alabama Department of Archives and History ArchiTreats lunchtime program on April 19th.

Wings of Denial is available from NewSouth Books, or your favorite online or retail bookseller.