Fall Reading List

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Although it’s still 80-some degrees here in Tuscaloosa, we are embracing the Fall spirit, and nothing says “Fall” quite like curling up with a good book. This season our recommendations include fresh fictions, spooky stories, and war-time tales. So while we may have to hold off on the chunky sweaters, hot apple cider, and hayrides, it’s never too early to fall into reading.

The Moon Over Wapakonta by Michael Martone

Cvr_Martone_mktgAmerican Midwest with the gift for discovering the marvelous in the mundane. In these stories Martone shows us how traveling across time zones from Ohio to Indiana is a form of time travel; how a beer bottle can serve as a kind of telescope, how Amish might power their spaceships with windmills as they travel through space and time. These stories capture the paradox of feeling that one is in the heart of the country while at the same time in the middle of nowhere, of natives who find themselves strangers in their once familiar, but now strange, lands.

On display is a love of obsolete technologies, small-town whimsy, home movies of proms and birthday parties, steam engines and baseball games. If Italo Calvino lived in Indiana rather than Italy, these are the fictions he might have made.

Send the Alabamians by Nimrod Thompson FrazerFrazer_jktfinal_copy

Send the Alabamians recounts the story of the 167th Infantry Regiment of the WWI Rainbow Division from their recruitment to their valiant service on the bloody fields of eastern France in the climactic final months of World War I.

To mark the centenary of World War I, Send the Alabamians tells the remarkable story of a division of Alabama recruits whose service Douglas MacArthur observed had not “been surpassed in military history.” The book borrows its title from a quip by American General Edward H. Plummer who commanded the young men during the inauspicious early days of their service. Impressed with their ferocity and esprit de corps but exasperated by their rambunctiousness, Plummer reportedly exclaimed:

In time of war, send me all the Alabamians you can get, but in
time of peace, for Lord’s sake, send them to somebody else!

The Jeffrey collection by Kathryn Tucker WindhamWindham

One of the best-known and widely shared books about the South, Thirteen Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey has haunted the imaginations of generations of delighted young readers since it was first published in 1969. Written by nationally acclaimed folklorists Kathryn Tucker Windham and Margaret Gillis Figh, the book recounts Alabama’s thirteen most ghoulish and eerie ghost legends.

Following the overwhelming success of 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey, Windham and Jeffrey began to journey across the South assembling more ghastly tales that repeat Windham’s winning combination of traditional folklore, Southern history and culture, and family-friendly story-telling. In five additional books, Windham’s disembodied friend roams the states of Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Florida to recall more timeless, spine-tingling tales of baneful and melancholy spirits that spook the most stoic heart.

Time in the Barrel by James P. Coan

Coan_cover_mktgCon Thien, located only two miles from the demilitarized zone dividing North and South Vietnam, was a United States Marine Corps firebase that was the scene of fierce combat for months on end during 1967. Staving off attacks and ambushes while suffering from ineffectual leadership from Washington as well as media onslaughts, courageous American Marines protected this crucial piece of land at all costs. They would hold Con Thien, but many paid the ultimate price. By the end of the war, more than 1,400 Marines had died and more than 9,000 sustained injuries defending the “Hill of Angels.”

More than a retelling of military movements, Coan’s engrossing narratives focus on the sheer sacrifice and misery of one Marine’s experience in Vietnam. Through his eyes, we experience the abysmal conditions the Marines endured, from monsoon rainstorms to the constant threat of impending attack. Climatic moments in history are captured through the rare, personal perspective of one particularly astute and observant participant.

Mythical Trickster Figures by William J. Hynes and William G. Doty

0-8173-0857-1_cover.p70Mythical Trickster Figures, is the first substantial collection of essays about the trickster to appear since Radin’s 1955 The Trickster. Contributions by leading scholars treat a wide range of manifestations of this mischievous character, ranging from the Coyote of the American Southwest to such African figures as Eshu-Elegba and Ananse, the Japanese Susa-no-o, the Greek Hermes, Christian
adaptations of Saint Peter, and examples found in contemporary American fiction and drama.

The many humorous trickster stories included are fascinating in themselves, but Hynes and Doty also highlight the wide range of features of the trickster–the figure whose comic appearance often signifies that the most serious cultural values are being both challenged and enforced.

Big City by Marream KrollosCvr_Krollos_mktg

Marream Krollos’s Big City is astructurally innovative work of prose composed of vignettes, verse, dialogues, monologues, and short stories. Alone, they are fragments, but together they offer a glimpse of the human condition and form a harmonized narrative of desire, loneliness, and beauty. Through language that builds, destroys, and violates, Krollos maps the geography of our contemporary condition, a haunting meditation on human togetherness and isolation.

Krollos plays with the tension between the voice of the lonely “I” produced by the urban experience and the polyphony of the city itself. A city is a chorus and a collection of traces; it is a way of being with others and the concretization of the social divisions that keep people apart. As a lifelong city dweller, Krollos is obsessed with the way that cities shape our experiences of the world, our ideas about inside and outside and self and other.

By mapping the emotional highs and lows of particular (though often anonymous) beings, the book creates a geography of the urban consciousness. The sensation of reading this lyric work of fiction is akin to how one experiences an attentive walk in an unknown city: one becomes attuned to the tenor of its many voices, how the languages lift and flourish, and how the micro and macro became integrally linked.

Points of Honor by Thomas Boyd

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Points of Honor: Short Stories of the Great War by a US Combat Marine is based on author Thomas Alexander Boyd’s personal experiences as an enlisted Marine. First published in 1925 and long out of print, this edition rescues from obscurity a vivid, kaleidoscopic vision of American soldiers, US Marines mostly, serving in a global conflict a century ago. It is a true forgotten masterpiece of World War I literature.

The stories in Points of Honor deal almost entirely with Marines in the midst of battle—or faced with the consequences of military violence. The eleven stories in this collection offer a panoramic view of war experience and its aftermath, what Boyd described as “a mass of more human happenings.” The themes are often antiheroic: dehumanization, pettiness, betrayal by loved ones at home, and the cruelty of military justice. But Boyd’s vision also accommodates courage and loyalty. Like all great works of war literature, this collection underscores the central paradox of armed conflict—its ability to bring out both the best and worst in human beings.

This reissue of Points of Honor is edited, annotated, and introduced by Steven Trout. Trout provides an overview of Thomas Boyd’s war experience and writing career and situates the stories within the broader context of World War I American literature.

99 Fables by William MarchMarch_99_Fables

“March has picked up where Aesop and Don Marquis left off, prick- ing vanities and exposing antics of chronic phonies. . . . Here are damning truths about the Noblest Animal, here is vitriol without venom. richard Brough catches the full flavor in his illustrations.” —New York Times Book Review

“As one reads the fables one is haunted by the resemblance of March to his natural predecessor, Ambrose Bierce. The two men had much in common: their work is criss-crossed with similar themes; both were ridden with personal demons; both viewed life with bitterness; each was a minor genius; and each was the most neglected writer of his time.” – Nelle Harper Lee, Alabama Alumni News

The Great War in the Heart of Dixie by Martin T. Olliff

OLLIFF_Great WarThere has been much scholarship on how the U.S. as a nation reacted to World War I, but few have explored how Alabama responded. Did the state follow the federal government’s lead in organizing its resources or did Alabamians devise their own solutions to unique problems they faced? How did the state’s cultural institutions and government react? What changes occurred in its economy and way of life? What, if any, were the long-term consequences in Alabama? The contributors to this volume address these questions and establish a base for further investigation of the state during this era.

Wolfhounds and Polar Bears by Col. John M. House, US Army (Ret.)

Jkt_House_mktgIn the final months of World War I, President Woodrow Wilson and many US allies decided to intervene in Siberia in order to protect Allied wartime and business interests, among them the Trans-Siberian Railroad, from the turmoil surrounding the Russian Revolution. American troops would remain until April 1920 with some of our allies keeping troops in Siberia even longer.

Wolfhounds and Polar Bears: The American Expeditionary Force in Siberia, 1918–1920 may well be the most detailed study of the military aspects of the American intervention in Siberia ever undertaken, offering a multitude of details not available in any other book-length history.

The Complete Tales of Lucy Gold by Kate Bernheimer

9781573668217As a child, Lucy dreams of talking fairies and lives contentedly in the wooded suburbs of Boston; she grows up to be a successful animator of fairy-tale films. Or does she? She claims at moments to be a witch in the woods.

Like her sisters, who appeared in Bernheimer’s first two novels (The Complete Tales of Ketzia Gold and The Complete Tales of Merry Gold), Lucy has a secret, but she is unable to fasten onto anything but brightness. Novelist Donna Tartt writes, “Lucy’s particular brand of optimism, blind to its own shadow, is very American—she is innocence holding itself apart so fastidiously that it becomes its opposite.”

This novel is a perfect end to the Gold family series, and the perfect introduction, for new readers, to Bernheimer’s enchanting body of work.

 

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UAP AWARDS 2017 AGEE PRIZE TO EMILY RUTTER

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The University of Alabama Press is pleased to announce The Blues Muse: Race, Gender, and Musical Celebrity in American Poetry by Emily Ruth Rutter as the recipient of the 2017 Elizabeth Agee Prize in American Literature.

Awarded annually by UAP’s faculty editorial board to the manuscript chosen as representing outstanding scholarship in the field of American literary studies, the Elizabeth Agee Prize was established by the Stubbs and Agee families to honor longtime Birmingham bookseller Elizabeth Agee who described herself as “a reader and lover of books.”

Rutter’s analysis focuses on five key blues musicians and singers—Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Robert Johnson, and Lead Belly—and traces the ways in which these artists and their personas have been invoked and developed throughout American poetry. She traces the evolution of the poetic invocation of blues muses through a succession of cultural eras, political climates, and artistic movements, asking how and why these protean blues figures change shape both within and across generations. Drawing on the work of poets Langston Hughes, Frank O’Hara, Amiri Baraka, Harryette Mullen, Terrance Hayes, and many more as a guide, Rutter discusses topics such as the poetic renderings of black struggle, the constantly evolving notions of authenticity, and the portrayal of blues artists as heroic symbols of African American resistance.

Agee Prize committee member Philip Beidler said of the project “From its engaging title onward, Emily Rutter’s The Blues Muse: Race, Gender, and Musical Celebrity in American Poetry, proves itself a model of engaging twenty-first-century scholarship, connecting legendary figures in the Blues musical tradition with innovative modernist poets. Accordingly, in exploring the poetic constructions of blues icons it adventurously explores contemporary relationships of the era in the discourses of race and gender.”E.Rutter.Author Photo

Emily Ruth Rutter is assistant professor of English at Ball State University. She is the author of Invisible Ball of Dreams: Literary Representations of Baseball behind the Color Line.

The Blues Muse will be available from The University of Alabama Press in October.

Recent Winners of the Elizabeth Agee Prize

2016 • Harry Thomas Jr., Sissy! The Effeminate Paradox in Postwar US Literature and Culture

2015 • Brian Kim Stefans, Word Toys: Poetry and Technics

2014 • Elizabeth Swanstrom, Animal, Vegetable, Digital: Experiments in New Media Aesthetics and Environmental Poetics

2013 • Keith Michael Green, Bound to Respect: Antebellum Narratives of Black Imprisonment, Servitude, and Bondage, 1816–1861

2012 • Co-winners: Trudier Harris, Martin Luther King Jr., Heroism, and African American Literature and Kate Charlton-Jones, Dismembering the American Dream: The Life and Fiction of Richard Yates

2011 • Bruce Barnhart, Jazz in the Time of the Novel: The Temporal Politics of American Race and Culture

 

UAP AWARDS 2017 MCMILLAN PRIZE TO B. J. HOLLARS

Jkt_Hollars_mktgThe University of Alabama Press is pleased to announce B. J. Hollars as the recipient of the 2017 Anne B. & James B. McMillan Prize in Southern History for his recently published book The Road South: Personal Stories of the Freedom Riders.

The UAP Faculty Editorial Board has awarded the Anne B. & James B. McMillan Prize annually since 1995 to the manuscript chosen as the Most Deserving in Alabama or Southern History or Culture. The McMillan prize was established to honor James B. McMillan, founding director of the University of Alabama Press, former chairman of the university’s English department, and a renowned dialectologist. It has recognized books on such diverse topics as Southern Baptists, civil rights, religion, Alabama politics, southern missionaries, and southeastern archaeology.

McMillan Prize committee member Lesley Gordon praised the work, calling it an “immensely moving and memorable book.” Gordon went on to say, “The Road South combines powerful oral history with the very personal journey that the author engages in as he meets and converses one-on-one with surviving Freedom Riders. We read not only stories of the past but also reflections on today, emphasizing the lasting legacy of the civil rights movement.”

The Road South offers an intimate look into the lives and legacies of the Freedom Riders. Hollars retraced the historic route and learned the stories of as many surviving riders as he could. Throughout the text these civil rights veterans’ poignant, personal stories offer timely insights into America’s racial past and hopeful future.

Weaving the past with the present, Hollars aims to demystify the legendary journey, while also confronting more modern concerns related to race in America. Part memoir and part research-based journalism, the book transcends the traditional textbook version of this historical journey to highlight the fascinating stories of the many riders—both black and white—who risked their lives to move the country forward.

Hollars_Author_PhotoB.J. Hollars is an associate professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He is the author of several books including Thirteen Loops: Race, Violence and the Last Lynching in America; Opening the Doors: The Desegregation of the University of Alabama and the Fight for Civil Rights in Tuscaloosa; Flock Together: A Love Affair with Extinct Birds; From the Mouths of Dogs: What Our Pets Teach Us about Life, Death, and Being Human, among others.

The Road South: Personal Stories of the Freedom Riders is now available from The University of Alabama Press.

RECENT ANNE B. & JAMES B. MCMILLAN PRIZE WINNERS

2016 • Martin T. Oliff, Getting Out of the Mud: The Alabama Good Roads Movement and Highway Administration, 1898–1928

2015 • Edwin C. Bridges, Alabama: The Making of an American State

2014 • Christopher Lyle McIlwain Sr., Civil War Alabama

2013 • Susan M. Abram, Forging a Cherokee-American Alliance in the Creek War: From Creation to Betrayal

2012 • Glenn Feldman, The Irony of the Solid South: Democrats, Republicans, and Race, 1865–1944

2011 • Andrew H. M. Stern, Southern Crucifix, Southern Cross: Catholic-Protestant Relations in the Old South