Archive for the 'Gerald Duff' Category

“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.

Rod Davis, Gerald Duff inducted in Texas Institute of Letters

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013 by Robert Carter

Texas Institute of LettersNewSouth authors Rod Davis and Gerald Duff join an illustrious list of writers — including Cormac McCarthy, J. Frank Dobie, Larry McMurtry, and Shirley Ann Grau — with their induction into the prestigious Texas Institute of Letters last month. They were among seven whose contributions as writers were recognized at the Texas Institute of Letters annual meeting and awards ceremony on April 6.

Rod Davis is author of Corina’s Way (NewSouth, 2003), winner of the PEN Southwest inaugural Award for Fiction, as well as other works including American Voudou. His next novel, South, America, is forthcoming from NewSouth Books. Mr. Davis is a longtime magazine editor and writer, formerly at The Texas Observer and D Magazine. An eighth-generation Texan, Rod Davis lives in College Station.

“It was a great honor to become part of an organization with a long history of representing such a distinguished group of writers, whose works reach far beyond the Texas border,” said Davis. He continued, “I think sometimes the state’s literary presence is lost in some of the other distractions, from politics to sports. But, really, those who tell the stories of the many different kinds of people and cultures in Texas have always been a powerful and critical force.”

Gerald Duff’s Fire Ants and Other Stories (NewSouth Books, 2007), was a finalist for the Texas Institute of Letters Jesse H. Jones Award for Best Book of Fiction. NewSouth also published his novel Coasters (2001), and his recent short ebook essay Fugitive Days (2012). At the induction ceremony, Mr. Duff read a selection from his recent novel Blue Sabine, which had been earlier in the month named by the Philosophical Society of Texas the best work of fiction published in 2012. Gerald Duff is a native of the Texas Gulf Coast.

Mr. Duff offered some thoughts on his induction, offering that “an old saying declares that a prophet is without honor in his own country. I can’t claim the status of prophet, but as a writer I’m much gratified to be recognized in my home state with my induction into the Texas Institute of Letters. Especially gratified given the many oddball characters and situations I’ve created and set in the Lone Star state. Thanks, Texas, for not taking these personally!”

Learn more about Rod Davis‘s and Gerald Duff‘s books at their NewSouth Books author pages.

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.

Gerald Duff published in Clapboard House, recalls past meeting with Eudora Welty

Friday, June 11th, 2010 by Andrew

Clapboard House, an online magazine focused on Southern writing, recently published “You Will Need One Egg,” by NewSouth author Gerald Duff, in their Eudora Welty tribute issue. Honoring the 101st anniversary of Welty’s birth, Clapboard House called for submissions responding to a Welty quote on the writing of fiction:

“Greater than scene is situation. Greater than situation is implication. Greater than all these is a single, entire human being, who will never be confined in any frame.”

“You Will Need One Egg” is a story Duff modeled after unique characters in Welty’s short stories “Petrified Man” and “Why I Live at the PO.”

“My first-person narrative is my modest attempt to copy what Miss Welty achieves so brilliantly in her two toweringly delightful tales,” Duff said. “In the process, I learned anew what genius resides in her writing and how inspiring and inimitable her work can be.”

Duff’s knowledge of Eudora Welty doesn’t completely rely on her published works. Years ago, he had the chance to share an hour of drinks with the author at the famed Peabody Hotel Lobby Bar in Memphis, Tennessee.

“It was delightful to listen to one of America’s great short story writers chat about funny events from her past, interesting people she’d met, uniquely Memphian cocktail drinkers in the Peabody Lobby Bar, and why she liked to tell stories,” said Duff. “I recall her saying, ‘I like to see how the line of character plays out in events and situations, how what a person is won’t allow him or her to do anything other than what they are bound to do. And I like to show them never realizing that as they move to the steps of the dance of time and circumstance.’ I’m not able to quote Miss Welty precisely, but that’s the essence of what she said. I only wish I’d had a recorder to capture it truly.”

Gerald Duff is also the author of the NewSouth-published Fire Ants and Other Stories.

Fire Ants is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite local or online retailer.