Archive for July, 2013

Frye Gaillard teams with Nashville songwriter Davis Raines on “Mockingbird”

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 by Lisa Harrison

The Books That MatteredNewSouth Books author Frye Gaillard and Nashville singer/songwriter Davis Raines have co-written a new song, “Mockingbird,” which recently premiered at an Alabama Humanities Foundation-sponsored teacher conference in Harper Lee’s hometown of Monroeville, Alabama. Lee’s classic novel inspired the song.

Download a recording of “Mockingbird” in MP3 format.

Gaillard was in Monroeville to present on the subject of To Kill a Mockingbird, a work that influenced his development as a writer and which figures prominently in his new memoir, The Books That Mattered. Nancy Anderson, professor of English at Auburn University at Montgomery and champion of all things literary in Alabama, moderated the discussion.

The talented Davis Raines is the co-writer with Walt Wilkins of the recent mega-hit, “Someone, Somewhere Tonight,” recorded by country singer Kellie Pickler.

To Kill a Mockingbird,” Gaillard explained, “is one of those books — The Grapes of Wrath is another — that became so iconic it reentered and became an integral part of the culture out of which it emerged. Three of the greatest songwriters of our times — Woody Guthrie, Kris Kristofferson, and Bruce Springsteen — have all written songs about The Grapes of Wrath. Davis and I set out to do the same with To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Frye’s memoir The Books That Mattered is available from NewSouth Books, or your favorite local bookseller.

Documentary based on Frye Gaillard’s book wins regional Emmy Award

Monday, July 15th, 2013 by Lisa Harrison

In the Path of the Storms by Frye GaillardThe documentary In the Path of the Storms, based on the book by Frye Gaillard, has won a 2013 regional Emmy Award for documentary excellence. Gaillard is also the author of the recently released The Books That Mattered: A Reader’s Memoir and Watermelon Wine, both published by NewSouth Books.

The film, produced by the Alabama Center for Public Television, tells the story of Bayou La Batre and other beleaguered fishing villages on the Alabama coast, trying to hold onto a treasured way of life in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the 2010 BP oil spill.

The documentary aired last fall on Alabama Public Television, and has been shown at colleges, schools, and public libraries across the state. Gaillard served as script consultant and on-screen narrator for the film, which was directed by award-winning filmmaker Mike Letcher, in consultation with Bayou La Batre teachers and artists Peggy Denniston and Sheila Hagler.

Watch the trailer for In the Path of the Storms:

“I’m really happy for Mike, Peggy and Sheila,” said Gaillard, “and for cinematographer Preston Sullivan who did a superb job of bringing a beautiful story to life. But mostly, I’m happy for the people of Bayou La Batre, who were, after all, the stars of the film.”

Gaillard’s book, now in its second printing from the University of Alabama Press, tells the story of a multi-cultural community, where three Buddhist temples dot the landscape of Protestant, Catholic, and Pentecostal churches, and where shrimp boats and family fishing vessels are moored in a bayou harbor just off the Gulf of Mexico.

More than 2,000 of the town’s 2,300 residents — white, black, and southeast Asian — were driven from their homes by Hurricane Katrina, only to have their livelihoods threatened again by the BP oil spill.

But the white residents, with roots going back to the 1700s, the African-Americans, whose families arrived during the Great Depression, and the Asian refugees from the War in Vietnam, have continued to pull together to maintain their historic ties to the sea. “We love it like a farmer loves digging in the dirt,” said Bayou oysterman Avery Bates. “You know you’re a part of something worthwhile.”

Learn more about In the Path of the Storms from the Center for Public Television.

Frye Gaillard’s The Books That Mattered: A Reader’s Memoir and Watermelon Wine are available in print and ebook direct from NewSouth Books or from your favorite bookseller.

Alan Gribben named editor of The Mark Twain Journal

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013 by Suzanne La Rosa

Dr. Alan Gribben, Mark Twain scholar and editor of the highly publicized NewSouth Edition of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn and of five other editions of these works — all recently published by NewSouth Books — has been named editor of The Mark Twain Journal. The journal is devoted primarily to the life and works of Mark Twain and his circle of family, friends, and acquaintances, drawing especially on contemporary sources.

Founded in 1936 by Cyril Clemens (Editor, 1936-1983), The Mark Twain Journal is one of the oldest American journals devoted to a single author. Its second editor, Dr. Thomas A. Tenney, oversaw it from 1983-2012. Upon Dr. Tenney’s death the current editor, Dr. Alan Gribben, formed an affiliation with the Center for Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College, which now serves as its editorial address. The journal also has a formal affiliation with the Mark Twain Circle of America.

The Mark Twain Journal publishes two issues a year (Spring and Fall). Double issues are occasionally created for special purposes or on topics requiring more space. Recent issues focused on Twain’s literary indebtedness to Hannibal, Missouri, and his affection for profanity.

Learn more about subscription information, manuscript submissions, back issues at The Mark Twain Journal website.

Learn more about the NewSouth Edition at Mark Twain’s Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn at the official book page.

Mark Twain’s Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn is available from NewSouth Books, Amazon or from your favorite bookstore.

Oxford American’s Hal Crowther reviews H. Brandt Ayers memoir In Love with Defeat

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013 by Brian Seidman

Fire AntsHal Crowther of Oxford American has reviewed two new books about “the Southern mind,” including Anniston Star publisher H. Brandt Ayers’s In Love with Defeat: The Making of a Southern Liberal.

Crowther notes that even as In Love with Defeat presents itself as a “standard autobiography — an aging Alabama newspaperman reflects on his journey,” Ayers’s book distinguishes itself by the history Ayers witnessed and the people he met. “If you know another Southerner who can reminisce about serious private conversations with Robert Kennedy, George Wallace, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton (among many others), I’d like to meet your friend,” Crowther writes. “‘Brandy’ Ayers, editor and publisher of The Anniston Star, derided as “The Red Star” by Alabama racists, was an actual player in some of the dramas that created the modern South, for better or worse. And he played for the right team.”

Crowther continues,

In Love With Defeat is a book that thoughtful Southerners — and ignorant outlanders — would do well to read and ponder. During the civil rights struggles that began in the ’60s, most whites in the Deep South were faced with the same choices that faced Ayers. Unique to him, as the owner of a small-city daily, were his leverage, access, grave responsibility, and direct exposure to the consequences of his decisions. Every Klansman knew what he thought and where he lived. … Those like Ayers … knew that a bullet through the window or a bomb in the garage were everyday possibilities.

But In Love with Defeat, as Crowther notes, is more than “just” a memoir. Ayers chronicles the rise of the “New South” movement, including Ayers’s early presidency of the biracial, progressive L.Q.C. Lamar Society, and how the group disbanded amidst the growing Republican majority in the South. Ayers explores the mindset of “the adamantly unenlightened who cling to the South’s lost cause and all the grim failures that followed from it,” and devotes much of the end of In Love with Defeat to considering politics and the South — what influences currently act on the South, and what expectations Ayers has for the future.

Read Hal Crowther’s “The Mind Revisited” at the Oxford American website.

In Love with Defeat: The Making of a Southern Liberal by H. Brandt Ayers is available from NewSouth Books, Amazon, or your favorite bookstore.