Author: lisa (Page 2 of 6)

Collecting Ellen Gilchrist

“In the Land of Dreamy Dreams” by Ellen Gilchrist. Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Press, 1981.

unnamedEllen Gilchrist, a native of Vicksburg, Mississippi, had spent six years devoted to the craft of poetry when she began writing short stories. She published her first collection of poetry, “The Land Surveyor’s Daughter,” in 1979. In “The Writing Life,” she recalls learning “how to polish and edit poetry until it shone like a mirror” and she applied that skill to short story writing. Gilchrist composed her first story, “In the Land of Dreamy Dreams,” under the guidance of her teacher Bill Harrison at the University of Arkansas where she would later teach. The rest of the stories would be written in New Orleans; Gilchrist describes that time in “The Writing Life”: “I was in one of the spells that artists all know can happen. I knew what I wanted to write about and I just sat down and wrote it.”

Gilchrist sent the stories to Harrison one by one for feedback. Besides writing suggestions, he offered up his literary agent in New York. While many writers would have jumped at the chance, Gilchrist “didn’t want any strangers in New York judging [her] work” and took an offer from the University of Arkansas Press in 1981. The small press was looking for a lead fiction writer and Gilchrist was the perfect fit, but no one could have predicted that her first collection of short stories, titled “In the Land of Dreamy Dreams,” would sell 10,000 copies in the first week and would be reprinted seven times.

“In the Land of Dreamy Dreams” launched Ellen Gilchrist’s literary career and soon she was ready to accept a contract from Little Brown. First editions of “Dreamy Dreams” are difficult to come by but for collectors this debut work featuring the artwork of Ginny Stanford is prized.

Original to the Clarion-­Ledger.

See more Ellen Gilchrist first editions here.

Garden and Gun’s Christmas Release: “The Southerner’s Cookbook”

Jacket (2)The Southerner’s Cookbook has a little something for everybody: the
traditional southern cook looking for inspiration from seasoned chefs, new cooks looking to capture the flavor of the south, and readers seeking wisdom and humor from some of their favorite food and culture writers like Julia Reed, Roy Blount, Jr., and the Lee Brothers.

For those watching their diet, one might have to pick and choose among the mouth-watering recipes in The Southerner’s Cookbook. A little indulgence now and again never hurts though, and John T. Edge advises at the opening of the cookbook: “As anyone who grew up on the food can attest, life without a little South in your mouth at least once in a while is a bland and dreary prospect.”

While the cookbook is comprehensive, from appetizers and meats, to baked
goods and cocktails, some of my favorite recipes were in the healthy bean
category: Butter Bean Succotash, Smoky Soup Beans, Hoppin’ John, Spicy
Black-Eyed Pea Jambalaya. The Southerner’s Cookbook will definitely get
your mouth watering and get you or someone you love back into the kitchen.

Written by Lisa Newman

Originally published in Well-Being Magazine 


The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf

invention of natureAndrea Wulf’s The Invention of Nature tells the forgotten story of Alexander von Humboldt of Prussia (1769-1859). Some of our counties, cities, rivers, lakes and mountains are even named after Humboldt.

Alexander von Humboldt was an energetic learner, a bold adventurer of the natural world and the most famous scientist of his age. Through study and courageous expeditions through the Americas and Russia, Humboldt discovered the relationship between vegetation zones and climate zones by examining the similarities between plants on different continents.

Through his travels, Humboldt also became the first to predict and discuss climate change. Many North American settlers argued that every virgin tree that was cut down improved the air quality and increased the winds that blew across the continent. Other outspoken settlers believed that the wilderness was actually “deformed” as a cesspool of decaying leaf matter, parasites, and venomous insects. Humboldt was the first to see the larger picture of nature, to see how all of the parts worked together.

Humboldt reported how deforestation through mining and farming in America and Europe caused springs to dry up entirely or rivers to rage out of control causing erosion. He saw another upset in the balance of natural environment when Spanish monks harvested turtles eggs without leaving hardly any for the next generation. It’s no wonder Humboldt is regarded by many as the father of environmentalism.

Wulf’s story of Alexander von Humboldt is a page-turning read. She brings Humboldt to life through his relationships with familiar figures like Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, Thomas Jefferson, Charles Darwin, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and Simón Bolívar. Through her sensitive and passionate eye for detail and her gift of story, Wulf makes Humboldt’s scientific contributions vibrant and appealing to a broad range of readers.

Collecting Gabriel García Márquez

“Love in the Time of Cholera” by Gabriel García Márquez. New York, NY: Random House, 1988.

In 1988, Gabriel García Márquez had been banned from traveling to the United States for years because of his friendship with Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Despite the travel ban, García Márquez enjoyed a great readership in the United States, particularly for his novel “One Hundred Years of Solitude” (1970).

When Bill Clinton was elected President in 1993, he had long been a great reader of Gabriel García Márquez. President Clinton lifted the travel ban and the two men met a number of times. As related in Gerald Martin’s biography of García Márquez, author William Styron invited García Márquez and Carlos Fuentes to his home to meet Clinton. Clinton and García Márquez shared a love for William Faulkner but García Márquez was certainly surprised to hear President Clinton recite passages from “The Sound and the Fury” by heart.

Gabriel García Márquez (1927­2014) is best known for writing in the style of magical realism, where the mundane seems magical and even the magical begins to seem ordinary. In 1982, García Márquez won the Nobel Prize for Literature for his short stories and novels but he is most famous for his novels “One Hundred Years of Solitude” (1970) and “Love in the Time of Cholera” (1988).
“Love in the Time of Cholera” chronicles Florentino Ariza’s pursuit of Fermina Daza over the course of fifty­-three years, seven months and eleven days and nights. García Márquez ‘s parents were the inspiration for this unusual love story— Gabriel Eligio courted Luisa with endless violin serenades, love poems, and letters until her family consented to the marriage despite their objections.

unnamed (2)At the time “Love in the Time of Cholera” was published in the United States in 1988, García Márquez could not tour in the United States because of the government travel ban, so Random House mailed the sheets to García Márquez for him to sign. The sheets were bound into a beautiful limited edition of 350 copies with pink cloth over black cloth boards with a black lace patterned acetate jacket, housed in a yellow slipcase with a black lace pattern.



Original to the Clarioin-Ledger

Collecting Cormac McCarthy

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy. New York: Knopf, 2005.

unnamed (6)Cormac McCarthy is considered by many to be our genius of American literature. He is also one of the most reclusive and humble authors of our time. Born in Rhode Island in 1933, McCarthy grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee, and set his first four novels in the South. McCarthy lived on the edge of poverty for years and his early work sold poorly. When asked to speak for compensation, he declined saying that everything he had to say was on the page. In 1981, a MacArthur Fellowship allowed McCarthy to buy a home in El Paso, Texas. In that southwest landscape he began to write Blood Meridian (1985) and All the Pretty Horses (1992 National Book Award Winner).

The 2000s brought Cormac McCarthy out into the spotlight. Following the Pulitzer Prize win for The Road in 2006, No Country for Old Men was made into an Academy award­winning film of the same name by the Coen brothers in 2007. To everyone’s surprise, McCarthy accepted Oprah Winfrey’s invitation for a television interview in 2007 after she selected The Road for her book club. At this point, McCarthy fans were not just a select number of literary readers. The collectibility of his books had also increased. But how do you collect an author who rarely does book signings?

If Cormac McCarthy does sign a book at a signing, he typically likes to personally inscribe the book to the recipient. While in many cases this may satisfy the recipient, a collector will desire a simple signature for long term value. Publishers do issue signed books and this is about the only way to get a signed Cormac McCarthy book.

In 2005, Knopf issued No Country for Old Men to booksellers in a signed hardback edition on a first come, first serve basis. The book is signed by McCarthy on a blank tipped­in page. This means that the author received the blank sheets to sign and then the publisher bound the signed page into the book.

unnamed (9)

unnamed (7)Later, B. E. Trice Publishing out of New Orleans used some of the signed sheets from Knopf to complete two of the most beautiful limited editions in contemporary literature: a limited edition of 325 copies in 1⁄4 leather and marbled boards, slip cased, and a deluxe limited edition of 75 copies 3⁄4 leather, marbled boards, with raised spine hubs, slip cased.

Cormac McCarthy, now 81­ years ­old, still maintains his privacy and accepts few request for public appearances, following his own advice that it’s better to be writing than to be talking about writing.


Original to the Clarion-Ledger 

To see more titles by Cormac McCarthy, click here.

It’s University Press Week!

It’s University Press Week and we’re celebrating with this guest blog from Steve Yates. 

Surprise: You’re now the book editor at a major newspaper!

Today marks the beginning of University Press Week and UPM is very excited to once again participate in the AAUP blog tour. The theme for today’s posts is Surprise (which also matches the online gallery theme) and gives us a chance to talk about a venture that not only surprised us, but is also something we’re very proud of. 

The following post from Steve Yates, UPM’s Marketing Director, writes about the surprising results of a collaboration between our university press, an independent bookstore, and a daily newspaper. 

If you’ve visited a newspaper’s newsroom lately, there’s no escaping the devastation. Empty chairs, spotless, cleared desks, naked cables sprouting where monitors used to hum and keyboards once clacked—that march down rows of hollowed out cubicles feels funereal.

This is acutely haunting to me. All my nightmares have come true! At seventeen-years-old I was hired by the Springfield, Missouri, News-Leader(the largest newspaper in the Ozarks) as a sports writer and agate clerk, a part-time job that was nearly always full time except in summer.

When I came to Jackson to work at University Press of Mississippi in 1998, the only way to see my wife while we were both awake was to moonlight. I worked as a part-time copy editor while she designed and edited the business section at the Jackson, Mississippi, Clarion-Ledger.
My wife, Tammy Gebhart Yates, worked first at the News-Leader, and then at a succession of newspapers, the last a fifteen-year stint at the Clarion-Ledger. She survived several layoffs—one in which she was terminated then rehired the same morning—before being permanently let go in August 2013.

So I have mixed feelings about this surprise. Doing something for free that other, more qualified journalists once did for a living sometimes just doesn’t feel right. But then, really, before the Mississippi Books page came about at the Clarion-Ledger, nothing remotely like it had existed in the seventeen years I have been a subscriber.

Just before the Great Recession, one of our key bookselling partners, John Evans at Lemuria Books in Jackson, hatched an idea. Since I was in email contact frequently with all our Mississippi independent booksellers (and we have a lot of them) why not ask them to report a top ten bestsellers list each week? Call it, “The Mississippi Bestsellers List.” UPM could crunch the numbers and serve as the (mostly) dispassionate judge.

I was doubtful that a Gannett newspaper would go for it. And, sure enough, they didn’t back then.

Along came the Great Recession, and it seemed everybody (including my wife) was let go. In the turmoil, the newspaper’s then features editor Annie Oeth approached Evans for a meeting about something. But Evans began talking about creating The Mississippi Bestsellers List. When Oeth said yes to that, Evans said, well, okay, what about reviews by Mississippi writers writing about new books by Mississippians or about Mississippi? She said yes again.

Evans kept the good suggestions rolling, and by January of 2014, UPM publicist Clint Kimberling and I found ourselves part of a team editing and providing two full pages (and often more) of original, local content each Sunday on the Mississippi Books page, which appears both in print and online. Sunday circulation at the Clarion-Ledger, the state’s largest newspaper, considered by the capital and much of the state to be the paper of record, tops 107,000.

When working on this project, I spend most of my time recruiting writers and matching them to ideal books. I lean on the team a lot for great suggestions, too. Kimberling writes articles, reviews, and crunches the sales numbers and streamlines the events calendar.

Liz Button’s April 2015 article about the project in Bookselling This Weekdescribes our operation most succinctly.

“Along with the bestseller lists, reviews, and interviews, the Clarion-Ledger’s two- to three-page Books feature… also includes exclusive columns from indie booksellers: Lisa Newman at Lemuria writes a weekly ‘First Editions’ column on rare and collectible books and fine bindings , and Clara Martin, also of Lemuria, writes her own weekly column about children’s and young adult books.

Every week, [editors lay] everything out to create an attractive spread, which includes periodic pieces by local freelance writer Jana Hoops, who interviews many of the big-name authors who come through Mississippi bookstores on tour. ”

Now former Clarion-Ledger reporter Jim “Pathfinder” Ewing regularly adds reviews and articles as well.

The project crosses a non-profit scholarly press with an independent for-profit bookstore and an affiliate of a gigantic, publicly held media conglomerate. Yet I find myself amazed and uplifted week after week. At the table when we gather, we are ego-less. We all want great content and a better book culture in Mississippi—nothing less, and nothing more.

Here are some examples of the voices we have brought to Mississippi book lovers lately.

From the chaos of a newspaper’s transformations, Kimberling and I now find ourselves part of a team running a book page every Sunday, a good in the world that did not previously exist. Once (and more properly) an agate clerk, I now find myself promoted to some weird kind of editor. No one is more shocked than I.


Collecting Barry Hannah

“Neighborhood: An Early Fragment of Ray” by Barry Hannah. Tuscaloosa, AL: Gorgas Oak Press, 1981.
Born in Meridian, Mississippi in 1942, Barry Hannah grew up in Clinton, Mississippi. After changing his college major early on from pre­med to English, he set his sights on writing and earned his Bachelor’s at Mississippi College. While studying for his Masters of Fine Arts at the University of Arkansas, Hannah developed the surreal and dark humor he is known for in his novels and short stories. Nominated for the National Book Award for “Geronimo Rex” (1972) and also nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for “High Lonesome” (1996), Hannah gained national acclaim. Over his long career, he became a popular creative writing mentor among students, holding teaching positions at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, Sewanee, the University of Alabama, and the University of Mississippi, among others.

unnamed (4)While Hannah was teaching at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, he allowed the Gorgas Oak Press of the Graduate School of Library Services of the University of Alabama to design and print the book format for an early fragment of “Ray” called “Neighborhood.” The graduate students handcrafted a striking chapbook of handmade paper, hand-pressed with custom­ made ink, featuring the original interior etchings of Jill Valentine, and exterior wrapper drawings by Bruce Dupree. The print run was limited to 65 copies. The chapbook was not issued signed and signed copies are scarce today. This copy of “Neighborhood” is signed on the title page.

unnamed (5)This fragment of “Ray” also differs from the complete version of “Ray” published by Knopf in 1980 as pages 12-­26. The publication of Gorgas Oak’s “Neighborhood” provides a rare opportunity to compare an early draft of a literary text with its final form.



Original to the Clarion-Ledger

To see more titles by Barry Hannah, click here.

Collecting Margaret Walker

how i wrote jubilee FEWROTEJUBAs a young girl, Margaret Walker Alexander listened to her grandmother’s stories. Walker decided at the age of nineteen that “she would clothe that ‘naked truth’ in all the power and beauty of fiction,” and she spent the next thirty years meticulously researching her family’s stories of slavery and the Civil War from every side. When Walker’s novel “Jubilee” was published in 1966, Harper’s Magazine asked her to submit an essay about how she wrote “Jubilee.”
FEPROPHETS-2Unexpectedly, Walker’s essay for Harper’s was rejected in 1967.

Instead, “How I Wrote Jubilee” was published in the form of a chapbook by a small press called Third World Press in 1972. Founded in 1967 by Haki R. Madhubuti, a poet and one of the leaders in the Black Arts movement, Third World Press ran alongside another important black literary press of the time, Detroit’s Broadside Press, which published Walker’s “Prophets for a New Day” and “October Journey.”

In 1967, Mississippi’s Willie Morris had just been appointed as the managing editor at Harper’s Magazine. In his memoir “New York Days,” Morris reflected on Harper’s very “modest” operation and their $150,000 deficit. One way to increase their circulation was to publish excerpts of the latest novels. Bitingly, it was “The Confessions of Nat Turner” by William Styron that booted Walker’s essay out of Harper’s—as noted in “How I Wrote Jubilee.” Though Styron also went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Literature that year, the novel received a great deal of criticism for being more sensational than historically accurate in its depiction of the slave revolt of Nat Turner. While James Baldwin and Ralph Ellison praised “Nat Turner,” much of the black community frowned upon it. Over the years, the admiration and respect for Walker’s “Jubilee” has only grown.

Small presses like Third World have stood for authors like Walker who needed a platform for their work. In publishing “How I Wrote Jubilee,” Third World Press provided a lasting and beautiful chapbook which includes Walker’s essay, a Foreword, Afterword and Discussion Questions for “Jubilee.” Third World is still owned by its founder Haki R. Madhubuti. While most black presses went out of business or were bought out by large corporations, the press maintains its independence despite challenging times.


Original to the Clarion-Ledger

Collecting Barry Moser

appalachia“Appalachia: The Voices of Sleeping Birds” by Cynthia Rylant, Illustrations by Barry Moser. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1991.

In “Appalachia: The Voices of Sleeping Birds” by Cynthia Rylant, life is hard but it is also sweet. Rylant’s Appalachia is a land of coal miners, small churches, country dogs, dirt roads, homemade quilts, and cotton dresses. She communicates the rhythm of Appalachian life in her picture book for the young and old:

“In the summer many of the women like to can. It seems their season. They sit on kitchen chairs on back porches and they talk of their lives while they snap beans or cut up cucumbers for pickling. It is a good way for them to catch up on things and to have time together, alone, for neither the children nor the men come around much when there is canning going on.”

Cynthia Rylant, a Caldecott and Newbery award-winning author, writes about where she grew up in West, Virginia. Her young life was not unfamiliar to Barry Moser, the book’s illustrator. Moser, a native of Chattanooga, Tennessee, is a printmaker, a designer, author, essayist, and teacher. He is well-known for his fully illustrated Bible published in 1999, by his own Pennyroyal Press which has designed some of the most beautiful modern limited editions of the twentieth century.

Moser’s paintings and prints have graced such classic stories and poetry as “The Adventures of Brer Rabbit,” “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” and “The Tales of Edgar Allen Poe,” but he has also worked with many modern children’s books authors.

Moser’s paintings that accompany Rylant’s text were inspired by Ben Shahn, Walker Evans, Marion Post Walcott, and Dorothea Lange. The subjects in the paintings are simple and direct. The gaze of the coal miner shows a man with few choices in life—his father and grandfather were coal miners, too. The sweetness of life is there, too, as in the opening quote from James Agee, a nod to his own family in Knoxville, Tennessee:

“The stars are wide and alive, they seem like a smile of great sweetness, and they seem very near. All my people are larger bodies than mine, quiet, with voices gentle and meaningless like the voices of sleeping birds . . .”


Original to the Clarion-Ledger

See more of Barry Moser’s books here.

Get to know Lisa

unnamed (2)How long have you worked at Lemuria? Eight years.

What do you do at Lemuria? I look after Lemuria’s First Editions. We have two rooms of collectible books plus the first editions we have in the Dot Com building next to Banner Hall. I take care of the first editions we have, and I also take special orders for ones we do not have. I maintain Lemuria’s First Editions page on the website, and since our new website went up this year, I have slowly been adding our first editions to the website. I also write a column about book collecting for The Clarion-Ledger’s Sunday Book Page and look after our two book clubs, Atlantis and Cereus Readers.

Talk to us about what you’re reading right now. I just finished reading Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami for Lemuria’s Atlantis book club. He’s one of my favorite authors. I’m a fan of magical realism for total escape! A few others:

The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf

Love and Other Ways of Dying by Michael Paterniti

Looking at Pictures by Robert Walser

M Train by Patti Smith

A Strangeness in My Mind by Orhan Pamuk

What’s currently on your bedside table (book purgatory)?

The Early Stories of Truman Capote

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (reading for book club)

Where Angels Fear to Tread by E. M. Forster (reading for book club)

Hemingway in Love by A. E. Hotchner

The Mare by Mary Gaitskill

How many books do you usually read at a time? One to five books at a time.

I know it’s difficult, but give us your current top five books. I could list my favorite books according to different stage of life. A book can mean everything to at one stage of life and then it means less in another stage until another book takes its place. But here are some of my all time favorites:

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez

Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

The Prime of Life by Simone de Beauvoir

Anything by Robert Walser

What did you do before you worked at Lemuria? I taught English as a Second Language, mostly at the university level, in the United States and in Austria. I worked about a year at Davis-Kidd booksellers in Jackson, Tennessee during college.

Why do you like working at Lemuria?  The books, new and old—for the way they smell and feel, for the beautiful craftsmanship of some of the finest and rarest books. The people—everyone comes to the bookstore looking for something different and I like helping them find it.

If we could have any living author visit the store and do a reading, who would you want to come? Alice Walker.

If you had the ability to teleport, where would you go first? A quiet tropical island.

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