Friday, August 29, 2014

Ninth Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

Nine years ago today, Hurricane Katrina reached landfall on the Gulf Coast. The storm claimed the lives of 231 Mississippians and left more than 45 million cubic yards of debris in its wake. In a statement released today, current Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, said of the storm:
It forever changed the landscape of the Mississippi Gulf Coast and lives for countless families that were permanently displaced. Since that time, Mississippians have shown incredible strength, resilience, and a caring spirit for their neighbor while building back the Gulf Coast stronger than before Hurricane Katrina.
In the nine years since Katrina UPM has published several books focused on Hurricane Katrina, its impact on the Gulf Coast and the people of Louisiana and Mississippi. It’s encouraging to see that through devastation of the storm, people still found the resiliency to create art and tell their story.

Below, we’ve identified three books that deal exclusively with the Mississippi Gulf Coast and Katrina.

Hurricane Katrina: The Mississippi Story
 by James Patterson Smith
This book is the fullest account yet written of the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Rooted in a wealth of oral histories and other primary sources, it tells the dramatic but under-reported story of a people who confronted unprecedented devastation.

This book combines 86 of Melody Golding's striking black-and-white photographs with more than 50 firsthand accounts of Mississippi women, providing uncommonly personal insights into the life on the Mississippi Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina

Ellis Anderson, who rode out the storm in her Bay St. Louis home, wrote a book that is part memoir, personal diary, and firsthand reportage. This book invites readers into the intimate enclave before, during, and after the storm and offers stories of generosity, heroism, and laughter in the midst of terror and desperate uncertainty.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Praise for We Shall Not Be Moved

We Shall Not Be Moved: The Jackson Woolworth’s Sit-In and the Movement it Inspired by M.J. O'Brien has been awarded the 2014 Lillian Smith Book Award. The Lillian Smith awards honor authors who, through their writing, carry on Smith's legacy of elucidating the condition of racial and social inequity and proposing a vision of justice and human understanding.

We Shall Not Be Moved is an up-close study of a watershed Civil Rights demonstration. The book places the Jackson Woolworth's protest into a historical context. Part multifaceted biography, part well-researched history, this gripping narrative explores the hearts and minds of those participating in this harrowing sit-in experience.

FranÒ«oise N. Hamlin, herself a 2013 Lillian Smith Book Award winner, writing in a recent issue of American Historical Review, says of the book:
The book . . . easily draws the reader into the emotion, tragedy, and messiness of movement activity. O'Brien neatly dissects an iconic moment encapsulated by photographer Fred Blackwell's image of the Jackson Woolworth sit-in on May 28, 1963, showing a mob of white youth pouring condiments and insults on the seated protesters... 
O'Brien has crafted a beautifully written text that transcends the local story with a simple, effective, and appealing structure that will lend itself to the many other movement campaigns with equally iconic images. 
O'Brien's writing reflects his journalistic skills—he knows how to tell a story, and how to analyze images, interview his subjects, and craft tight prose that engages readers and elicits empathy for those on both sides.

The University of Georgia Libraries sponsors the awards, in partnership with the Southern Regional Council and the Georgia Center for the Book. O’Brien will be honored  this weekend at the Decatur Book Festival. Also chosen as an award recipient was In Peace and Freedom; My Journey in Selma by Bernard LaFayette Jr. and Kathryn Lee Johnson.

We Shall Not Be Moved is now available in paperback.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Quentin Tarantino's Universe

It's Film Friday again at UPM. And we just ran across this excellent video from HuffPost Live that draws connecting lines to all the character allusions that occurs across Quentin Tarantino's films. 

As the video below points out, Tarantino's characters seemingly all exist within the  very complex 'Tarantinian universe.' That is, characters from films like Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, True Romance, Reservoir Dogs and Inglourious Basterds all coexist in the same fictional world.


The video above dovetails nicely with our recent release Quentin Tarantinio Interviews, Revised and Updated. This volume collects interviews that cover the whole of Tarantino's writing and directing career.  

In a 1994 Film Comment article included in the book, interviewer Gavin Smith noticed this connection and asked Tarantino about it and his motivation behind it.

Their exchange is below.

GS: That’s why all your films have references to characters from one another. The characters in Reservoir Dogs refer to Marsellus [Ving Rhames], who is the hub of all the stories in Pulp Fiction.
QT: Very much so, like Alabama [Patricia Arquette in True Romance]. To me they’re all living inside of this one universe.

GS: And it isn’t out there [pointing out the window].
QT: Well, it’s a little bit out there, and it’s also there, too [points at his TV], in the movies, and it’s also in here [points to his head]. It’s all three. I very much believe in that idea of continuing characters. So what I mean when I wrote “Three stories . . . about one story,” when I finished the script I was so happy because you don’t feel like you’ve seen three stories—though I’ve gone out of my way to make them three stories, with a prologue and an epilogue! They all have a beginning and an end. But you feel like you’ve seen one story about a community of characters, like Nashville [Robert Altman,1975] or Short Cuts [Altman, 1993] where the stories are secondary. This is a much different approach—the stories are primary, not secondary, but the effect is the same.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

McRae Intern Says Summer at UPM was 'eye-opening and informative'

The following is a guest post from Dakotah Daffron. Dakotah worked with UPM this summer as the McRae publishing intern. The McRae Publishing Internship, supported by the Richard and Selby McRae Foundation, offers a singular educational opportunity to young men and women interested in book publishing to start their careers as interns and gain valuable practical knowledge about the publishing industry.

Below, Dakotah talks about his interest in publishing and his experience this summer at UPM.

My interest in publishing stems from a deep appreciation for the craft of writing. As someone who has chosen to pursue a degree in English, I believe it is important to pay attention to not only what is being written, but also to consider how it is being written. When I entered Mississippi State University, I was a Chemistry major with a minor in English. After three semesters, I realized that I enjoyed and excelled in my English classes more than my Chemistry classes. I dropped the Chemistry major, and I decided to follow the English route.

Originally, I had no idea what exactly I wanted to do with my degree. I knew that I did not want to teach, and I knew that I wanted to be in a fast-paced environment. When I joined MSU’s creative arts journal, The Streetcar, it became more clear what I wanted to do. I realized that I liked working with authors and artists, so I began to think about publishing. I discussed this with a few of my professors who were extremely supportive of my decision, and we talked about the different options within the big world I simply call “publishing.” That is actually how I learned about this internship with University Press of Mississippi, and I am incredibly happy that I did.

My summer at UPM has been eye-opening and informative. I believe that because I was a publishing intern rather than an editorial intern, I was able to see how the Press works through more than one lens. However, I did work closer to the Editorial Assistant, Katie Keene, and the Assistant Director/Editor-in-Chief, Craig Gill. I also worked a good bit with the Production Manager, Shane Gong-Stewart, and the Acquisitions Editor, Vijay Shah.

As the McRae intern, my responsibilities were vast. In any given week, I would prepare a contract, read an index, scan page proofs, write email rejection letters, contact authors, and many other tasks. Of my daily tasks, I was solely responsible for contacting and keeping up with readers. This required me to email professors and professionals every day requesting their services. I also helped to prepare for launch meetings, editorial meetings, and board meetings.

The best part of this internship, other than it being a very educational experience, was working with the staff. Since I had previous experience working in an office, I feel like I hit the ground running and was integrated into this machine very quickly. It did not take long for me to learn the procedures, and I have Katie Keene to thank for that. She made the initial learning experience extremely easy. Working alongside Craig Gill was really nice as well; seeing his workload and what it is like to be an Editor-in-Chief only confirmed that I am pursuing the right field. His work may be difficult and he may have a lot of it, but he works with many different authors and editors whose books are about various subjects. 

As I write this post, I am getting ready to head back to Mississippi State to complete my English degree, and I could not be any more sure of my career choice. I thank the University Press of Mississippi staff and the McRae Foundation for that. When I finish college, I want to try my hand in a trade press, hopefully working with YA novels in New York. I do, however, really enjoy the life in a University Press, so I may end up working one. For all I know, I could end up working for UPM again!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

New Book: The Southern Manifesto

In his new book The Southern Manifesto: Massive Resistance and the Fight to Preserve Segregation John Kyle Day provides the definitive narrative history of the Southern Manifesto and the systematic resistance to desegregation. This book reevaluates the scholarly interpretation of the Civil Rights Movement.

The Southern Manifesto formally stated opposition to the landmark United State Supreme Court Decision Brown v. Board of Education (1954), and the emergent Civil Rights Movement.This statement allowed the white South to prevent Brown’s immediate full-scale implementation and, for nearly two decades, set the slothfully circumspect timetable for southern public school desegregation. The Southern Manifesto also provided the Southern Congressional Delegation with the means to effectively delay Federal civil rights legislation, so that the destruction of Jim Crow largely came on white southern terms. 

Day, an associate professor of history at the University of Arkansas of Monticello, has written a history that challenges the prevailing view toward the national response toward the Civil Rights Movement.Below, we talk with the author about his inspiration for the book, his interest in southern politics and history, as well as his research that uncovered the greatest irony in American political history.

Where did the inspiration come for this book?

As I attended college at the University of Arkansas’ Fayetteville campus, all of my professors in the Departments of History and Political Sciences (both in their lectures and in extracurricular settings) overtly conveyed their support for Democratic political candidates and policies to their students.  Some—including the university’s resident expert on state and local politics who moonlighted as a consultant and confidante for Clinton—even practiced passive aggressive behavior toward and consciously ostracized students that were openly conservative and/or Republicans, and covertly encouraged her personal acolytes to do the same.  I was thus raised and educated to believe, without question, that Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal literally saved the United States. 

Accordingly, I was told and only assigned books in class that portrayed the Civil Rights Movement as an integral part of America’s liberal political reform tradition of the twentieth century.  When I learned about the Southern Manifesto and massive resistance, however, I was struck by the fact that most of the signers were both born and buttered New Dealers as well as staunch segregationists. 

To my astonishment, the signers included all of Arkansas’ favorite sons, including the internationally renowned United States Senator James William Fulbright as well as United States Representatives Wilbur Mills and Brooks Hays.   Fulbright and Hays are both honored as distinguished alumnus of my alma mater.  My own university’s College of Arts and Sciences is even named in Fulbright’s honor; the administration placed a statue of him in the middle of campus just after I graduated.

I was thus quite confused as to how these supposed icons of the liberal Democratic tradition could endorse
Author John Kyle Day
such a dangerous and doggerel appeal to racial bigotry as the Southern Manifesto.  That is, how could these heroes of the intellectual circles of my formative years be such ready defenders of such a blatantly discriminatory, even criminal, racial caste system as the South’s Jim Crow?  This supposed paradox, which I found to be more accurately juxtaposition, really stuck in my mind.  

So, as I furthered my education at the University of Missouri-Columbia, I wanted to find out more.  In conversations with my mentor, the eminent political economist Robert M. Collins, he encouraged me to pursue this topic as a full length book subject, so twelve years later here we are!

What was the most interesting thing you uncovered during your research?

I am fascinated by the way the politicians who participated in the drafting of the Southern Manifesto struggled to reach a consensus on the exact wording of the statement.  Yet, once they did, the produced a document that harnessed the white South’s defiance of desegregation into a legitimate political program that stifled substantive civil rights legislation on the national level. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Hey, Write Your Own Book

Last fall, Tim Parrish published Fear and What Follows: The Violent Education of a Christian Racist. Parrish’s memoir is an unparalleled story of the complex roots of southern, urban, working-class racism and white flight, as well as a story of family, love, and the possibility of redemption.

The problem with writing a memoir is that the author opens himself to criticism from readers who don’t agree with your interpretation or memory of certain events. This is doubly true of family members mentioned within the book, as the video below shows.

At a reading attended by Parrish’s friends and family, including Tim’s brother, there was some discrepancy over the details of Tim’s recounting of a family story. But Tim handles his heckling brother by doling out some straightforward advice: If you don’t like what's in my book, write your own.

Hey, Write Your Own Book from University Press of Mississippi on Vimeo.

Fear and What Follows is now available in paperback.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Maude Clay on Tour

For the past fifteen years, Maude Schuyler Clay has been driving the back roads photographing her native Delta. In the darkroom of her hundred-year-old family homestead in Sumner, she has developed hundreds of images of eroding architecture, misty bayous, small stands of woods, and endless rows of crops. And dogss

This has led to the creation of Delta Dogs is new collection of photographs that captures the simple, desolate beauty of the Mississippi Delta. Author William Ferris says Clay’s photos offer “a unique, powerful window on the Delta landscape and the presence of dogs on it.”

Maude has spotted and captured the elemental spirit of dogs eking out existences from this majestic landscape. In her iconic book Delta Land, Clay introduced the “Dog in the Fog,” the muscular lab standing watch in the mist and trees of Cassidy Bayou. This photo became widely recognized, and Clay wanted to further explore the relationship between the land and the numerous dogs populating its fields, bayous, and abandoned spaces.

Featuring 70 duotone photographs, Delta Dogs celebrates the canines who roam this most storied corner of Mississippi. Some of Clay’s photographs feature lone dogs dwarfed by kudzu-choked trees and hidden among the brambles adjacent to plowed fields. In others, dogs travel in amiable packs, trotting toward a shared but mysterious adventure. Her Delta dogs are by turns soulful, eager, wary, resigned, menacing, contented.

Writers Brad Watson and Beth Ann Fennelly provide essays that ponder Clay’s dogs and their connections to the Delta, speculating about their role in the drama of everyday life and about their relationships to the humans who share this landscape with them.

In a photographer’s afterword, Clay writes about discovering the beauty of her native land from within. She finds that the ubiquitous presence of the Delta dog gives scale, life, and
 sometimes even whimsy and intent to her Mississippi landscape.

Maude will be signing her new book at the following times and locations:

Wednesday, June 11, 5 p.m. at Turnrow Books

Thursday, June 12, 5 p.m. at Square Books

Saturday, June 14, 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m. at Lemuria Books

Thursday, June 19, 6:00 p.m at Miss Del’s

Saturday, June 28, 2 - 4 p.m. at Lorelei Books

Tuesday, July 1, 4 - 6 p.m. at Pass Christian Books


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