Archive for the 'Books That Mattered' Category

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.

Rheta Grimsley Johnson inspired by Frye Gaillard’s Books That Mattered

Friday, June 7th, 2013 by Brian Seidman

Fire AntsTwo NewSouth Books authors came together recently when syndicated columnist Rheta Grimsley Johnson (Hank Hung the Moon, 2012) attended writer Frye Gaillard’s April 10 event at Eclipse Coffee and Books in Montevallo, Alabama. Gaillard was there to talk about his new book The Books That Mattered: A Reader’s Memoir.

Johnson, writing about the event and the book in her recent column “The Books That Rocked Your World,” said that “in writing compellingly about some of his favorite books and authors, the ones that moved and shaped him, Gaillard has produced another book that matters.”

In The Books That Mattered, Gaillard relates the books that shaped his life, from Esther Forbes’s novel Johnny Tremain that first sparked Gaillard’s interest in reading, to classics by Charles Dickens and Mark Twain and the work of Harper Lee, Robert Penn Warren, and John Steinbeck; to newer books by Rick Bragg, Sena Jeter Naslund, Geraldine Brooks, and others.

After Gaillard spoke, the audience took turns relating some of their favorite books and authors, and how those books had shaped them. and the audience took turns describing their favorite books and books that had influenced their lives, as Gaillard does in his memoir. “Fourth grade,” Johnson notes, “seemed to be the most popular year for life-altering trips to the library. Gaillard’s talk inspired Johnson to muse about her own life-changing reads.

She valued many of the early books she read, or that were read to her, for their illustrations, including Robert McCloskey’s Make Way for Ducklings “done in nuanced charcoal” and the Homer Price series with “McCloskey’s attention to the detail of gears and switches and Rube Goldberg-type design of a fantastical doughnut machine.”

“I started thinking about how illustrations always influence my reading,” Johnson writes, “from the freckles on Anne of Green Gables’ nose to Beautiful Joe’s fathomless eyes, from steamy scenes on the covers of James M. Cain paperbacks to, well, the perpetual virgins on Louisa Mae Alcott’s novels. Maybe you can’t judge a book by its cover, but you can sure buy one because of it.”

Johnson concludes that while she agrees with many of the choices Gaillard mentions in The Books That Mattered, she recognizes Frye’s “hope … not that we will adopt the same favorite books, swayed by his elegant telling of their back stories, but that we will ‘create an equally personal list,'” as Johnson did.

Read Rheta Grimsley Johnson’s full column, “The Books That Rocked Your World.”

Frye Gaillard’s The Books that Mattered is available from NewSouth Books, Amazon, or your favorite bookstore.