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Archive for June, 2014

Tavis Smiley Show hosts Clifton Taulbert to discuss memoir, The Invitation

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014 by Blair Johnson

The Invitation by Clifton Taulbert

Radio host and commentator Tavis Smiley interviewed Clifton Taulbert, bestselling author of titles including the award-winning Once Upon a Time When We Were Colored, in early June in connection with Taulbert’s new memoir, The Invitation.

In a smart and engaging interview that you’ll wish lasted longer than its nine minutes, Smiley draws Taulbert into candid discussion about his transformative experience in South Carolina as chronicled in The Invitation. The book recounts Taulbert’s invitation to dinner at a former plantation house, about which he was immediately apprehensive, sharply evoking memories of his childhood as the son of a sharecropping family. Taulbert recounts how upon seeing the old South Carolina plantation surrounded by acres of cotton, he was immediately transported back to his days as a child in Mississippi. “[I felt] the weight of the segregated South on my shoulders as I sat in this car in the twenty-first century,” Taulbert told Smiley.

Taulbert discloses that it took him seven years to write The Invitation as he had to become “very, very honest, open, and vulnerable” with himself. “I had to say, ‘Yeah, I’ve taught at Harvard University, I’ve taught at the Air Force Academy . . . but I’ve also picked cotton, I’ve also slept on a cot that was so small you could fall off of it.'” As he describes to Smiley and also discusses in The Invitation, there is never a moment in which “the lessons of race and place” are not present. Taulbert explains that as a professional man he is proud of his accomplishments and intellectually understands that the world has changed, and for the better. But there’s a daily emotional adjustment to past history that’s required — even when (or maybe especially when) he is as graciously received as he was in South Carolina.

To listen to the entire interview, visit The Tavis Smiley Show’s website.

Clifton Taulbert’s The Invitation is available from NewSouth Books, Amazon, or your favorite bookstore.

NewSouth Books Remembers Virginia Pounds Brown

Friday, June 20th, 2014 by Blair Johnson

Virginia Pounds Brown

On May 26, 2014, NewSouth Books lost a longtime friend and beloved author, Virginia Pounds Brown. Although we will miss her in our books family, we will always remember her as a woman who was lively and engaged into her nineties and a very fine writer. Brown was a Birmingham native, a writer as well as a publisher and a bookstore owner, and a well known and respected authority on Native American, especially Creek Indian, history.

Brown’s obituary in The Birmingham News quotes her: “My writing career started when a German scientist working in Huntsville, walked into the bookstore looking for an ‘easy reading’ book about Alabama for relatives in Germany. We didn’t have such a book, but out of that request came Alabama Mounds to Missiles, an answer to his need. The success of the book turned a budding interest into the pursuit of discovering and writing about previously ignored or unknown facets of Alabama and southern history mostly blacks, Indians, women.” Her desire to tell the untold stories of those who had been ignored realized itself in her many historical books.

NewSouth Books’s titles authored by Brown include The Gold Disc of Coosa (2004), a fictional account for middle-school aged children of the meeting between De Soto and the Alabama Indians, and two classics of Native American history:The World of Southern Indians: Tribes, Leaders, and Customs from Prehistoric Times to the Present (2011) and its companion title, the more recent Southern Indian Myths and Legends (Spring 2014). NewSouth also published Brown’s Mother & Me: An Intimate Memoir of Her Last Years (2003).

NewSouth Books will publish a fifth work by Brown, posthumously, which is co-authored by Linda McNair Cohen. Drawing By Stealth: John Trumbull and the Creek Indians will be released as an ebook in fall 2014. The book is a historical account of John Trumbull, an American artist during the period of the Revolutionary War and painter of two portraits of George Washington, and his encounter and subsequent drawings of the Creek Indians who fascinated him, just like they did Brown. NewSouth looks forward to publishing Drawing By Stealth in celebration of Virginia Pounds Brown’s lifetime of good work, passion for books, and our long friendship with her.

The works of Virginia Pounds Brown are available from NewSouth Books, Amazon, or your favorite bookstore.

Huffington Post spotlights poet David Rigsbee in Video Reading Series

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014 by Blair Johnson

The Red Tower: New & Selected Poems by David RigsbeeIn a recent article in the Huffington Post, Anis Shivani cited poet David Rigsbee (The Red Tower) as one of eight emerging poets and fiction writers who represent “the cutting-edge of today’s literary world.”

As part of the “Video Reading Series,” Rigsbee and his fellow writers are featured in videos reading selections from their works and are also given the opportunity to present a behind-the-scenes look at their writing. Each writer presents a short elucidation on their own work, explaining the writing process as well as the roots and vision of their pieces.

Rigsbee, a North Carolina native and author of numerous full-length collections of poems including The Red Tower: New & Selected Poems, published by NewSouth Books in 2010, has received several awards that recognize his talent. These include the Sam Ragan Award for Distinguished Service to North Carolina Arts, the 2013 NEA Creative Writing Fellowship, and the 2011 Oscar Arnold Young Award for The Red Tower, given by the Poetry Council of North Carolina.

In the Huffington Post’s “Video Reading Series,” Rigsbee reads “Russians,” a poem from his collection entitled School of the Americas (2012). Rigsbee explains his desire to write poems “that don’t spend your time making conundrums or feed you on impossible verbal desserts” in School of the Americas. He says that his new, simplified form of verse “improved on the old by becoming more superficial.” Rigsbee also refers to the impact the suicide of his brother has had on his work and the presence of human mortality and humility.

Anis Shivani also profiles poets Wendy Chin-Tanner, Melissa Broder, Tyler Mills, Jenna Le, Shadab Zeest Hashmi, and fiction writers Garry Craig Powell and Justin Sirois.

The Red Tower: New & Selected Poems by David Rigsbee is available from NewSouth Books, Amazon, or your favorite bookstore.

Announcing South, America, Rod Davis’s latest New Orleans noir mystery

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014 by Brian Seidman

South, America by Rod DavisAuthor Rod Davis won a PEN Southwest Fiction Award for his debut novel Corina’s Way, set in New Orleans and starring the unforgettable voudou priestess Corina Youngblood. In Davis’s newest novel, South, America, he returns to the Big Easy and introduces a dynamic new leading man, Jack Prine.

South, America opens as Prine discovers a murder victim and finds himself drawn into a web of violence threatening the victim’s beautiful sister. They begin a dangerous, desperate flight through Alabama, the Delta, and back to New Orleans searching and evading button men, goons, and racial violence. Deadly ties extend to the Dixie Mafia, priceless stolen art, and debased Southern aristocracy. In a a final, startling showdown in the Arts District, no one’s survival is guaranteed.

Gerald Duff, author of Fire Ants, writes about South, America in the Southern Literary Review, that “What Rod Davis tackles masterfully in this faux hard-boiled mystery is the capturing in a simple plot of murder, investigation, solution, and deserved punishment of the essential truths of what it is to be born, nurtured, schooled, and acclimated to existence in the American South. [Jack Prine’s] struggle to understand the nature of where he truly lives provides this powerfully fascinating novel with energy, soul, and a hope that he’ll return in another narrative to treat further what he calls ‘the hard shadowed streets of the Vieux Carre, the American landfall for the fallen.'”

Novelist and reviewer Si Dunn calls South, America a “gritty, well-written new mystery novel … an engrossing tale alive with Southern landscape, thugs, family secrets, voudou, art treasures, racial tensions, sex … and love.”

Both reviewers express their enthusiasm for the next Jack Prine novel, already in the planning.

Davis’s book tour for South, America is just beginning, with an appearance at the well-known Louie’s bar in Dallas, TX, on June 12 from 6-7:30. Also look for Rod Davis and author Tony Zigal at an event called “Hard Side of the Big Easy: Crime Noir and Katrina” at Malvern Books in Austin, TX, on June 27.

South, America is available in paperback and ebook from NewSouth Books, Amazon, or your favorite bookstore.