On Wednesday from 6-9 p.m., the University Press of Mississippi will be holding its annual BOOKFRIENDS fall membership party at Hal and Mal’s. This year’s party will mark the 30th anniversary of BOOKFRIENDS support of Mississippi’s only nonprofit publisher.
The party will have a decidedly New Orleans theme, featuring music by the Southern Komfort Brass Band and celebrate the recent publication of two books—Talking New Orleans Music: Crescent City Musicians Talk about Their Lives, Their Music, and Their City by Burt Feintuch with photographs by Gary Samson and Getting Off at Elysian Fields: Obituaries from the New Orleans ‘Times-Picayune" by John Pope.
A short program will feature John Pope speaking about his career an obituary writer in New Orleans. Pope is a masterful storyteller who has written obituaries of the leaders and artists who shaped the city. In his book are extensive profiles of some of the most important people in the city, including the philanthropist Edith Stern, the supermarket pioneer John Schwegmann, the flamboyant fried-chicken magnate Al Copeland, and Dr. Alton Ochsner, who founded the New Orleans-based medical colossus bearing his name.
Pope tells of these and many other fascinating lives in one of the country’s most jubilant and complex cities. Taken together, Getting Off at Elysian Fields paints a picture of the times, highlighting several key milestones of the twentieth century.
His stories are not limited to New Orleans residents. In fact, Pope considers Eudora Welty’s obituary among his favorites that he’s written. “With the Welty obit,” he explains, “I had the time and space to do a pretty thorough analysis of the woman and her literature.”
UPM Director Leila Salisbury, “In the year of the Press’s 45th anniversary and the 30th anniversary of BOOKFRIENDS, we’re incredibly grateful to the authors, community partners, and avid readers who have supported us and who continue to encourage our work. Our regional focus is such a special part of our mission, and celebrating the Mississippi-Louisiana connection as we did for our first BOOKFRIENDS party seems just right. We’re fortunate to be connected to such rich artistic and historical cultures, and the Press is always working to document and celebrate them.”
“For thirty years, BOOKFRIENDS has been such a sustaining and powerful literary force in the state,” said assistant director and marketing director of University Press of Mississippi Steve Yates. “They lift up authors, and the whole work of University Press.”
This event is open to the public. Annual memberships are $50 and persons under 35 may purchase a membership for $35 and is payable at the event. Donations and ticket purchases may be also made in advance via the Paypal link below: