Archive for April, 2013

Gerald Duff’s Dirty Rice named ForeWord Best of the Year finalist

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013 by Brian Seidman

Fire AntsEarlier this month, NewSouth released award-winning author Gerald Duff’s novel Coasters and his short story collection Fire Ants as ebooks, along with individual ebooks of each of Fire Ants‘ fifteen stories, and Duff’s new short essay Fugitive Days. We’re terrifically proud to offer these books by Duff, whose fiction Publishers Weekly praised for “wit and subtlety as simply satisfying as a tall cold one on a hot Gulf Coast afternoon.” But Fire Ants, Coasters, and Fugitive Days are just a few of Duff’s books earning praise from all corners.

Home Truths: A Deep East Texas Memory is Gerald Duff’s memoir, published by TCU Press in 2011. Steven Whitton of the Anniston Star called Home Truths “just as wickedly comic and startling as [Fire Ants]” and Library Journal‘s Julie Kane said “Duff’s account of a life led against the grain in East Texas is keenly thematic, peppered with insightful accounts of the seemingly ordinary.” In Home Truths, Duff relates his childhood move to rural East Texas after his father Big Willie Duff lost his job, and how lying to survive — often in poverty — informed his later life as a writer and professor.

Moon City Press published Duff’s novel Blue Sabine also in 2011. Named for the Sabine River on the border of Texas and Louisiana, Blue Sabine tells the generational story of the Holt family in their own words, especially the women, from 1867 to the present.

“In this beautifully written, wondrously told novel,” writes the Southern Historical Quarterly‘s Steven Davis, “one family’s personal history merges with the larger currents of Texan and American history, creating a twisting, turning narrative that is as aesthetically satisfying as it is historically resonant.” Vanessa Blakeslee of the Kenyon Review wrote that Blue Sabine “will haunt you long after you’ve closed its pages.” Some of the chapters within Blue Sabine were inspired by Duff’s stories in Fire Ants.

In 2012, the UL Press published Duff’s new novel Dirty Rice: A Season in the Evangeline League, which fictionalizes the 1935 Texas minor league team the Rayne Rice Birds and their pitcher Gemar Batiste. Batiste, a Native American, is constantly confronted with a sense of difference between himself and his teammates — not solely for the honor in which he imbues the game of baseball.

Harry Levins of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says “Duff gives readers who watch baseball on television new insight into the game as experienced by those who play it on the field”; on the Plaza de Armas website, Rod Davis (Corina’s Way, NewSouth Books) adds that “Duff’s new novel is about something else altogether: the purity of artistic passion.” ForeWord Reviews recently named Dirty Rice a finalist for their 2012 Best of the Year Award in the Adult Fiction category.

Finally, Duff’s Decoration Day and Other Short Stories, from the Stephen F. Austin State University Press, is a new collection with stories also related to Blue Sabine and Fire Ants, set in locations ranging from the piney woods of Deep East Texas, to the mean streets of Memphis, to the suburbs of Washington, DC.

You can connect with Gerald Duff on his website,, and learn more about Fire Ants, Coasters, and Fugitive Days from NewSouth Books.

Author Skip Tucker to make 1,500-mile road trip to promote paper edition of Civil War novel Pale Blue Light

Monday, April 22nd, 2013 by Lisa Harrison

Pale Blue Light by Skip TuckerAlabama author Skip Tucker leaves shortly on a 1,500-mile drive to promote the national paperback release of his historical adventure novel, Pale Blue Light, at the annual re-enactment of the Civil War’s Battle of Chancellorsville, Va., May 3-5. The trip is timed to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the death of Stonewall Jackson and the historic battle. Some 30,000 people are expected to attend the commemorative events.

Tucker will hold an 11 am news conference on May 4 at the Spotsylvania County Museum at the Chancellorsville Battlefield to announce the book release.

Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, a central figure in Tucker’s novel, was wounded at the May 2 battle and died of pneumonia May 10. “Pale Blue Light” is a lesser known nickname for Jackson, whose pale blue eyes would seem to shine with light from adrenaline before a battle.

Tucker says Jackson is a particular hero of his.

Pale Blue Light is not a work of history, but historical fiction, and I intended it to bring people a living, breathing Jackson,” the author said. “It’s actually a spy thriller, and it questions whether Jackson was wounded by friendly fire or whether there might’ve been something more sinister in play.”

Strong sales of the first edition hardcover, including several sell-out Costco events — which the author helped promote superbly via Facebook and in the print media — encouraged NewSouth Books in the release of the book in trade paper.

First reviews have been positive, too, including from the Associated Press and this one from the Massachusetts Patriot Ledger:

“If anyone could write a murder mystery into the Civil War, complete with a sexy spy worthy of a James Bond novel, Skip Tucker is the one. His story has more plot twists than a Smoky Mountains road has curves, and he not only makes the legendary general Stonewall Jackson a living, breathing man, he poses a provocative ‘what if?’ about the circumstances of Jackson’s death from battlefield wounds.”

Chancellorsville will be the first major stop on Skip Tucker’s national roll-out tour that will include stops in the Shendandoah Valley, where “Stonewall Jackson is a superstar,” Atlanta (at the Georgia History Museum), and New Orleans (at the Confederate Memorial Hall Museum).

“This is really an exciting time for me,” said Tucker. “I intend to rough-camp along the way and follow the trail, sometimes, that Jackson took in his historic campaign through the Shenandoah Valley.

“I’ve read just about everything I could find about Stonewall. I feel I know him. He’s a hero for all ages and all seasons.”

Read the press release for Pale Blue Light.

For more information about Pale Blue Light, Skip Tucker, or his book tour, contact Lisa Harrison at NewSouth Books, 334-834-3556.

Pale Blue Light is available in paperback and ebook from NewSouth Books, Amazon, or from your favorite bookstore.

Gerald Duff’s Fire Ants short stories released as individual ebooks

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013 by Brian Seidman

Fire AntsPublishers Weekly has praised Gerald Duff’s fiction for “wit and subtlety as simply satisfying as a tall cold one on a hot Gulf Coast afternoon.” NewSouth has a great selection of Duff’s books in print — and now as ebooks, too! Enjoy Duff’s novel Coasters, his collection of short stories, Fire Ants, and his new ebook “short,” Fugitive Days, all as ebooks, available for all major e-readers and devices.

In addition, each of Duff’s stories from Fire Ants are available as individual ebooks for only $0.99. This includes the title story, “Fire Ants,” which won the Cohen Prize from Ploughshares Magazine, was cited in Best American Short Stories, and republished in The Editors’ Choice: New American Stories. This is a great way to check out Duff’s fiction — we know you’ll be hooked.

Duff’s first short story collection, Fire Ants and Other Stories, ranges in settings 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. Each story conjures portraits of people captive to private delusions and bound to visions of what might be or might have been, struggling for escape and redemption. Highly comic and deeply serious, the stories collected in Fire Ants are perfect gems for reading individually or all together.

Fire Ants‘s stories include:

* The Angler’s Paradise Fish-Cabin Dance of Love

* The Apple and the Aspirin Tablet

* Bad Medicine

* Believing in Memphis

* The Bliss of Solitude

* Charm City

* Fire Ants

* Maryland, My Maryland

* A Mouth Full of Money

* The Officer Responding

* A Perfect Man

* Redemption

* The Road to Damascus

* Texas Wherever You Look

* The Way a Blind Man Tracks Light

Coasters follows Waylon McPhee, middle-aged and divorced, who moves back in with his widowed father. But even Waylon’s father is dating again, and the pressures on Waylon are great enough that he might not be able to just coast through another year. Humorous and melancholy, Gerald Duff’s Coasters perfectly presents the ennui of contemporary life in the suburbs of the petroleum-chemical corridor that stretches along the Gulf Coast from Texas to Mississippi.

In Fugitive Days, Duff recalls chance encounters with such literary figures as Robert Penn Warren, John Crowe Ransom, Allen Tate, and Andrew Lytle. In his meetings with the poets, Duff finds the humanity in each — some approachable, some remote, some lost in the wilds of age or overshadowed by their own legends. Duff and his readers take away with them new understanding of what writers-as-fugitives gain and sacrifice in pursuit of their craft. named Fugitive Days one of their their “Prose Pieces of the Week.”

Learn more about Gerald Duff on his official website or on his author page from NewSouth Books.

Rhyme* Around the Clock: Second Annual 24-Hour Poetry Marathon in Downtown Montgomery, April 18-19

Monday, April 15th, 2013 by Deric Sallas

*or not—free, formal, blank, rap, hip-hop, it’s all good

In celebration of National Poetry Month and in anticipation of the 2013 Alabama Book Festival, the second annual 24-hour poetry marathon will be held April 18-19 in downtown Montgomery. Any interested poets may participate by reading their own work or that of another poet, or both. Get on the list to read by calling 334-834-3556 or by sending an email to deric.sallas (at)

Images from 2012 Rhyme Around the Clock

At the 2012 event, author and poet Joseph Trimble reads at Court Square at sunrise; AUM student Matt Johnson reads in the NewSouth Bookstore.

The event is co-sponsored by NewSouth Books, the Village Gallery, and Smoothies ‘n Things, at 105–109 South Court Street, at the corner of Court and Washington, just one block south of Court Square Fountain, and by Cool Beans at the Cafe d’Art, a block west of the fountain at 115 Montgomery Street.

The event will begin Thursday, April 18th, at 6 p.m. at the NewSouth Bookstore. At 7:30 p.m. it will move next door to the Village Gallery. Around daybreak on Friday morning the reader for that time slot will move to Court Square Fountain for reading as the sun rises over the Alabama Capitol. At 7 a.m. the event will move to Cool Beans for a caffeine jolt, then to Smoothies n’ Things from 9–10:30 A.M., then back to the NewSouth Bookstore, and the last reader will end at 6 p.m.

On Friday evening, April 19th, the Alabama Book Festival will have its opening reception for the writers who will be on the program Saturday, April 20th. A full poetry track will be featured at the Festival, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (gates open at 9 a.m.), at Old Alabama Town (Hull and Jefferson streets, six blocks northeast of the fountain).

Download the official Rhyme Around the Clock informational flyer.

The NewSouth Bookstore
105 S. Court St.

The Village Gallery
107 S. Court St.

Smoothies ‘n Things
109 S. Court St.

Cool Beans
115 Montgomery St.

— all at Montgomery, AL 36104 —

Activist and author Dot Moore profiled by Montgomery Advertiser

Friday, April 12th, 2013 by Lisa Harrison

Oracle of the Ages by Dot Moore“If variety really is the spice of life, Dot Moore should know since she’s been a teacher, political leader, civil rights activist, popular author and mentor to many,” begins a new Montgomery Advertiser profile of Dot Moore, author of Oracle of the Ages: Reflections on the Curious Life of Fortune Teller Mayhayley Lancaster and No Remorse: The Rise and Fall of John Wallace.

Reporter Al Benn’s column focuses on the Moore’s history of activism, including her work as a member of the Alabama Democratic Party’s Executive Committee, as president of the League of Women Voters, and currently as founder of the Montgomery Area Hearing Loss Support Group.

Moore’s Oracle of the Ages is the award-winning true story of Georgia’s Mayhayley Lancaster — lawyer, schoolteacher, political activist, fortune teller, numbers runner, and self-proclaimed “oracle of the ages.” Oracle offers strange and often hilarious stories of the poor Georgia South in the post-Depression era, and how the eccentric Mayhayley’s charisma and mysterious powers cast a spell on all the people who knew — and inevitably misunderstood — her. Oracle of the Ages was the 2002 winner of the Lilla M. Hawes Award for the best book in Georgia history.

No Remorse, Moore’s newest book, digs into a 1948 murder committed in Georgia’s Coweta County, controversial not only for its middle-of-the-night mystery, but also for the role played by prominent businessman John Wallace. Moore explores not only that fateful night, but also the events that brought John Wallace to that point — the death of his father when Wallace was only eleven years old, and his early exposure to the making and selling of moonshine whiskey. Moore includes actual prison letters to and from Wallace before his ultimate conviction and execution, as well as copious historical images, to give a full picture of the Georgia figure.

Among those praising Moore in Benn’s feature is Morris Dees, founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center and a one-time student of Moore’s during her time as a Sidney Lanier High School teacher. Regarding Moore’s political activism, Dees said, “If Dot Moore hadn’t been involved in the Alabama Democratic Party during [the administrations of Gov. George Wallace], someone else would have had to be invented to keep [Wallace] from taking total control over the party.”

Ed Bridges, retired director of the state Department of Archives and History, called Moore “an amazing person. She pursues her projects with 100 percent commitment. Everybody is awaye of her energy and her passion.”

Read “Al Benn’s Alabama: Civil rights activist keeps busy schedule” from the Montgomery Advertiser.

Oracle of the Ages and No Remorse are available directly from NewSouth Books, Amazon, or from your favorite bookstore.

Close encounters with Robert Penn Warren, Fugitive poets in Gerald Duff’s Fugitive Days

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013 by Brian Seidman

Fugitive DaysGerald Duff is a writer, a professor, and he is also a collector. Over the years, he’s amassed an unusual collection of meetings with the Vanderbilt University poets known as the Fugitives.

In Fugitive Days, Duff recalls these chance encounters with such literary figures as Robert Penn Warren, John Crowe Ransom, Allen Tate, and Andrew Lytle. The Southwest Review originally published an earlier version of Fugitive Days and named it their “Prose Piece of the Week,” and now Fugitive Days is available from NewSouth Books in all ebook formats.

In his meetings with the poets, Duff finds the humanity in each — some approachable, some remote, some lost in the wilds of age or overshadowed by their own legends. Duff and his readers take away with them new understanding of what writers-as-fugitives gain and sacrifices in pursuit of their craft.

Rosanna Warren, author of Ghost in a Red Hat and daughter of Robert Penn Warren, called Fugitive Days “charming and quietly wise. [Duff] creates subtle portraits of complex individuals, including that complex individual, the author as pompous and eager Young Littérateur. And in many flicks of the pen he suggested the ideological worlds in which these men wrote and moved. Or in some cases, didn’t move.”

Vereen Bell, Professor of English at Vanderbilt, adds that “Duff’s entertaining, thoughtful, and beautifully written memory of his encounters with the Fugitive and Agrarian writers shows us that they were not a group but an association struggling to understand the South from widely different viewpoints. Duff’s essay enlightens, instructs, and amuses us wonderfully.”

Fugitive Days is available now for the Kindle, Nook, iPad, or from your favorite ebook store.

Washington Times and Associated Press praise Brandt Ayers’s In Love With Defeat

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013 by Robert Carter

In Love with Defeat“The collapse of the immoral ‘Jim Crow’ regime of racial segregation and discrimination in this country was, in historic terms, as swift as it was complete. It is a story worth remembering.” So begins reviewer Ray Hartwell in his recent Washington Times review of Brandt Ayers’s In Love with Defeat, newly published by NewSouth Books.

Brandt Ayers is the long-time publisher of the Anniston Star and one in a long and illustrious family line of progressive journalists. In Love with Defeat describes Ayers’s experience as a journalist and editor during the civil rights struggle, when he led the Anniston Star and worked to combat the violence and racism in his community and throughout the state of Alabama. Going beyond the civil rights movement, Ayers chronicles the journey of the state and the South from segregation to the birth of the New South movement and all the way to the election of Barack Obama in 2008.

Mr. Hartwell observes that “we are fortunate when someone who played an important role in those events … shares his recollections and reflections,” and describes Ayers as “a skilled storyteller.” He concludes by saying that “readers of all political persuasions will find Mr. Ayers’s book rewarding, for this Alabaman’s story is really about all of us.”

“For people who think they have read plenty about the South’s history over the past 70 years, Anniston Star Publisher H. Brandt Ayers offers a fresh take, with his personal stories chronicling not only change across the region, but the evolution of his personal politics,” writes Phillip Rawls of the Associated Press in a story that was picked up by dozens of newspapers across the country, from the Danbury (Connecticut) News Times to the San Antonio (Texas) Express-News.

In In Love With Defeat, Ayers chronicles his personal journey from a “good little segregationist” to “a committed Southern liberal — a lonely species, too hot for home, but not hot enough for high-churched liberals in Manhattan and Los Angeles.” Rawls remarks that In Love with Defeat is filled with stories of “everyday people as well as presidents, hooded Ku Klux Klan members, and Southerners who became the faces of change,” and concludes that “what comes through … is that Ayers never lost his passion for Anniston, Alabama or the South — no matter how many times his desire for change ended in defeat.”

Read the Washington Times review of In Love with Defeat at their website, and see the Associated Press review, “Ala. publisher gets personal with Southern history,” in the Gadsden Times.

In Love with Defeat is available directly from NewSouth Books, Amazon, or from your favorite bookstore.