Archive for August, 2013

“Witty, Wry”: Gerald Duff’s Fugitive Days reviewed by Southern Literary Review, Chapter 16

Monday, August 26th, 2013 by Brian Seidman

Fugitive Days by Gerald DuffChapter 16 calls writer and professor Gerald Duff’s new short ebook Fugitive Days “a witty insight into the real lives” of some notable poets, and the Southern Literary Review calls Fugitive Days “a wry contribution to the growing literature of writers’ encounters with writers.”

In Fugitive Days, Duff recounts his personal encounters with Vanderbilt University’s Fugitive poets, including Robert Penn Warren, John Crowe Ransom, Allen Tate, Donald Davidson, and Andrew Lytle. As reviewer Ed Tarkington writes in Chapter 16, an online publication from Humanities Tennessee:

Some of these sketches seem intent on demystifying their subjects. We see Robert Penn Warren smearing butter on a dinner roll, musing on how one can detect from the butter’s taste what the cow last ate before the cream was produced, Allen Tate conferring with his young colleague about how best to engage Vanderbilt undergraduates in Wordsworth’s “Preface to Lyrical Ballads,” Andrew Lytle reciting a dubious anecdote about a visit to his New York publishing house, etc. The subtext, however, is the journey of [Duff,] a new-minted scholar as he finds his way, eager to spend any moment he can in the company of his heroes. …

In one anecdote, Duff arrives early at Ransom’s home to drive Warren to the airport, hoping to steal a few extra minutes in the company of both great men. On a different occasion, driving down Thompson Lane with Lytle in the passenger seat, he slows the car so as not to arrive at his destination before Lytle finishes telling his story.

In the Southern Literary Review, reviewer David Madden observes that “some of [Duff’s] encounters were learning experiences, some were sad, some were disillusioning. Long relationships with such writers often diminish the anecdotal impact, while brief ones are often so vivid, the memory lingers over many years, as did Duff’s, and one finally scratches the itch to tell waiting listeners about them.”

Madden concludes that “Duff is a very witty, vivid writer, whose essay will inspire … other writers to come forward with their repertoire of encounters with literary heroes.” Tarkington notes that “the final effect of [Fugitive Days] is to emphasize Duff’s heartfelt reverence for a group of men who revolutionized the practice of both poetry and literary criticism, and who brought to the South the artistic and intellectual credibility that paved the way for Faulkner, Welty, O’Connor, and their heirs.”

Read David Madden’s review at the Southern Literary Review website. Read “All the Fugitives’ Men” from Chapter 16.

Gerald Duff’s Fugitive Days is available for just $0.99 for Kindle, Nook, iPad, or your favorite ebook device. Duff’s novel Coasters and his short story collection Fire Ants are also available in hardcover and ebook.

TIME Magazine “One Dream” project spotlights Bob Zellner, civil rights activist

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013 by Brian Seidman

The Wrong Side of Murder Creek by Bob ZellnerTIME Magazine has included author and civil rights activist Bob Zellner as part of their “One Dream” multimedia project, commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

The son and grandson of Klansmen, Zellner turned away from his heritage while at Huntington College in Alabama, joining the civil rights movement and later becoming the first white secretary of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Zellner chronicled his growing social awareness and his experiences in the movement, including numerous marches and sit-ins, as well as his encounter with many key figures of the Civil Rights era, in his memoir The Wrong Side of Murder Creek: A White Southerner in the Freedom Movement, available in hardcover and ebook.

In a video on the TIME website, Zellner relates the violence he witnessed during his time with SNCC, including violence directed against himself. “In the first thirty-six months of my work with SNCC,” Zellner said, “five of my colleagues were lynched … by racists. I was beaten so severely … that I have suffered some brain damage and also post-traumatic stress.”

On one particular occasion, Zellner marched with some high school students protesting the murder of Herbert Lee, who was killed after helping African Americans register to vote. A mob formed around the group. Zellner recalled, “The violence was so awful. They had hangmans ropes and they stopped us at the city hall … A small group of klansmen surrounded me and began to hit me.” As the mob grew, Zellner had to cling to a railing so as not to be pulled into the crowd and lynched, while one of his attackers tried to gouge out his eye.

“A white southerner was not supposed to step out of line,” Zeller told TIME, “because we were supposed to accept segregation and accept it happily. But if you didn’t, you could lose your sight, you could lose your life.”

Watch Bob Zellner’s “One Dream” video, or visit the TIME Magazine “One Dream” website.

The Wrong Side of Murder Creek by Bob Zellner is available in hardcover and ebook from NewSouth Books, Amazon, or your favorite bookstore.

John Pritchard’s new book Sailing to Alluvium — free ebook, videos, Twitter, and more

Friday, August 16th, 2013 by Brian Seidman

Sailing to Alluvium by John PritchardJohn Pritchard’s new novel Sailing to Alluvium — hilarious, poignant, and potent — will arrive on shelves this October. Sailing to Alluvium is a follow-up to Pritchard’s two previous novels: Junior Ray, named one of Barnes and Noble’s top “Sensational Debuts” for 2005, and The Yazoo Blues, which received a starred review from Publishers Weekly.

In Sailing to Alluvium, Prichard continues the madcap adventures of Junior Ray and his sidekick Voyd Mudd, who have become “diktectives” to stop the murderous activities of a semi-secret, lethal organization of Southern women, the AUNTY BELLES, headed by Miss Attica Rummage. Sailing to Alluvium is another brilliant, bumbling burlesque with an unforgettable cast of characters deeply rooted in the Mississippi Delta, a place both real and imaginary. The novel revolves around obsessions, underneath which lies the dark history of a class conflict that existed in the Deep South, not among black and white but between the white “haves” and the white “have-nots.”

The Tunica Times wrote of Yazoo Blues that “sandwiched amongst the profanity and explicit sexual content is some of the most beautiful writing the reader is likely to encounter. Pritchard’s prose and poetry is so beautiful, in fact, that it will make anyone who has ever aspired to fiction writing weep with envy. He understands the truth of the Mississippi Delta in ways only a son of the Delta can.”

Pritchard stars in a book trailer for Sailing to Alluvium and also an extended video, both available on YouTube.

You can also download an excerpt from Sailing to Alluvium as a PDF or eBook.

Follow Junior Ray on Twitter! Junior Ray Loveblood himself shares his wit and wisdom on Twitter; you can also get the latest information on Sailing to Alluvium events and signings by following @JuniorRaybook.

Sailing to Alluvium by John Pritchard will be available in October 2013 from NewSouth Books, Amazon, or your favorite bookstore.

Montgomery Advertiser features Denny Abbott’s They Had No Voice

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013 by Brian Seidman

They Had No Voice by Denny AbbottAlmost fifty years later, recalling the abuses in the Alabama juvenile justice system that Denny Abbott discovered and worked to end still touches him “very deeply,” Abbott told the Montgomery Advertiser.

Abbott is the author of They Had No Voice: My Fight for Alabama’s Forgotten Children (with Douglas Kalajin), his memoir of his time working as a Montgomery juvenile probation officer and later, filing a federal suit against the state of Alabama over abuses, specifically at the Alabama Industrial School for Negro Children at Mount Meigs.

In the 1960s, while many juvenile “training schools” for white children were “well run,” writes Allison Griffin for the Advertiser, “Mount Meigs, as [Abbott] saw first-hand, was not. It seemed to him to be a microcosm of the Old South: Its dilapidated buildings were ruled by self-serving whites who forced the black children who were sentenced there to do backbreaking farm work, under the guise of teaching them ‘job skills.’

“Over the next several years, Abbott would hear numerous stories of abuse and mistreatment of the children at Mount Meigs. His own observations confirmed those stories.”

A visit to Abbott’s office by five black teenagers detailing abuse lead Abbott to file complaints and ultimately take the state to court, though he was suspended from his job and ostracized by his community. Abbott was ultimately successful in having the “farm program” revised and desegregating Mount Meigs.

Later, Griffin writes, Abbott took a job working with juvenile justice centers in Florida, and later worked with “America’s Most Wanted”‘s John Walsh at the Adam Walsh Child Resource Center before Abbott retired; Walsh’s introduction begins They had No Voice.

Griffin calls They Had No Voice “very readable, filled with relatable experiences and memories; its descriptions of Montgomery will ring familiar with readers who’ve lived in the city during any time period.” Read the full feature on They Had No Voice at the Montgomery Advertiser website.

They Had No Voice is available in paperback and ebook from NewSouth Books, Amazon, or your favorite bookstore.

Wall Street Journal runs op-ed piece by NewSouth’s favorite M.D., Dr. Valerie Gribben

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013 by Suzanne La Rosa

The Fairytale Trilogy by Valerie GribbenValerie Gribben, author of a popular work of young adult fiction called Fairytale, published by NewSouth Books when Gribben was just 16 (and newly expanded into the Fairytale Trilogy), shows a mature side of her storytelling skills in an op-ed piece that appears in today’s Wall Street Journal.

Now a pediatrics resident at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University, Dr. Gribben describes the role she sees the smartphone coming to play in the medical diagnosis and treatment of childhood illness. Her own smartphone, she says, “is stocked with complex pediatric dosing, advanced life-support algorithms for optimal resuscitation and specialized textbooks for late-night reading . . . . But the simple camera phone is epochal in that it puts the power—literally—into the hands of patients.” Ever thoughtful about how she can improve the quality of care for her patients, Dr. Gribben advocates for the new technology on their behalf.

Read “Take Two Photos and Call Me in the Morning” at the Wall Street Journal website.