All posts filed under: BOOKS

As I Lay Dying

James Franco has spent time in Mississippi adapting some of William Faulkner’s books into movies. I haven’t seen “As I Lay Dying Yet,” but I got to interview a couple of the actors in the movie last year when they made appearances at a film event in Jackson. This is Ahna O’Reilly and Tim Blake Nelson. You may remember Ahna from “The Help” and Nelson from “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” Got a comment? E-mail me at endyanna@earthlink.com or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save

I own part of Square Books

My mother recently purchased this for me. It’s a piece of Square Books in Oxford with a certificate of authenticity that proves I actually own a piece of the popular bookstore. I think they were selling these as novelty items to raise funds for some kind of construction. When my mother posted on Facebook that I now owned a piece of Square Books, she received a lot of congratulatory comments. Unfortunately, this piece of wood is what she was talking about. 🙂 Got a comment? E-mail me at endyanna@earthlink.com or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save

From Gulfport to Starkville, new Southern Living cookbook features five Mississippi restaurants

A new cookbook featuring five Mississippi restaurants is now on the shelves. Southern Living Off the Eaten Path: Second Helpings is a travel guide/cookbook that takes you on a journey to eateries in 16 Southern states. Written by former Southern Living travel editor Morgan Murphy, the 272-page book published by Oxmoor House and sold for $22.95 features 150 of Morgan’s favorite recipes. “When researching my books, I always look forward to traveling through Mississippi, because the culture and feel of the state is so very familiar and feels like home,” said Murphy, an Alabama native who began his magazine career at Vanity Fair and later worked at Forbes, is a best-selling author, editor, entrepreneur and decorated naval officer. “I usually travel with companions to help me eat all that food, and on much of my research for this book, I actually took my mother along. She’d always wanted to take one of these trips with me, so I saved Mississippi for her. I knew it would be a great one, and the Magnolia State didn’t …

Want to hear William Faulkner’s Mississippi drawl? Check out this rare 1952 film.

‘Early in his life, William Faulkner had an epiphany: ‘I discovered that my own little postage stamp of native soil was worth writing about, and that I would never live long enough to exhaust it.’” – From openculture.com A website called “Open Culture” published a 1952 film this week shot shortly after Faulkner won the Nobel Prize for literature. Take a look at it to see footage of Oxford and its residents more than 60 years ago with glimpses of the square, the Ole Miss campus, Faulkner’s friends, The Oxford Eagle, and you’ll hear Faulkner’s Southern drawl, something I had never heard before watching it. Click the “Open Culture” link to watch the whole film that is broken into five, three-minute segments. Got a comment? E-mail me at endyanna@earthlink.com or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save

Survey: Jackson a city of believers: Ranks 5th for ‘Most Bible-Minded’ out of 96 regions across nation

Jackson residents read the Bible and believe in its accuracy more than most people in the U.S., according to a new report released by the American Bible Society. Based on random telephone and online interviews with 42,855 adults conducted during a seven-year period ending in 2012, Jackson ranked fifth as one of America’s “Most Bible-Minded Cities.” Cities that embrace the Bible most also include Knoxville, Tenn., Shreveport, La., Chattanooga, Tenn., Birmingham, Springfield, Mo., Charlotte, N.C., Roanoke/Lynchburg, Va., Huntsville, Ala., and Charleston, W. Va. The “Least Bible-Minded Cities” include Providence, R.I., and New Bedford, Mass., (tie) , Albany, N.Y., Burlington, Vt., Portland, Ore., Hartford/New Haven, Conn., Boston, San Francisco, Phoenix, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Buffalo, N.Y. Conducted by Barna Group, the study analyzed 96 geographic regions across the U.S. Findings also show a trend related to population density. Of the top 25 Bible-minded markets, only three have a population greater than 1 million households: Charlotte, N.C.; Nashville and Raleigh/Durham, N.C. “I find this most interesting as this, perhaps, flies in the face of more general religious …

Nuclear testing in Mississippi: a little known history

He was 7 years old when U.S. government representatives came to his Lamar County home, boarded it up and evacuated his family three miles away to protect them from a nuclear blast that shook both his body and the Mississippi earth in a 30-mile radius of the Tatum Salt Dome. (Link to Clarion-Ledger story.) “We were probably about a mile and a half from ground zero,” said Kevin Saul, now 55. “They evacuated us to my grandmother’s house in Baxterville. It was just like an earthquake came through. The house was shimmering and shaking. The ground had a buckle effect to it. It would knock you off your feet.” For 30 seconds, Saul experienced the effects of the only underground nuclear detonation east of the Mississippi River and a moment in history that ultimately helped the United States government fight the Cold War. That riveting experiment helped American scientists realize that their equipment could detect the underground explosions that the Russians were also conducting. “They kept us out for a day, and we were allowed …

Mississippi native’s film ‘Big Sur’ about the life of Jack Kerouac premieres at Sundance

Thirty years ago, director Ridley Scott’s film “Blade Runner” presented a dystopian vision of the future where genetically engineered robots that look like humans are hunted down by police. It was the first film that made a significant impression on Mississippi native Orian Williams, 47, putting him “On the Road” to Hollywood, where he is currently in Park City, Utah, at the Sundance Film Festival promoting his latest project. His film, “Big Sur,” based on the life of author Jack Kerouac, debuted this week at Sundance. “‘Blade Runner’ really sort of set me on my path for seeking out a job or something that would have anything to do with combining great elements that I’m passionate about,” Williams said. “The music was timeless in this futuristic world. It had a love story, which I thought was incredibly important. There were so many things incorporated into that film that I wanted to pursue.” After graduation from Baylor University in Texas with a degree in telecommunications, Williams moved to Los Angeles. “I headed west, not only to …

Is We Need to Talk About Kevin another prophetic work of fiction?

I have always believed that science fiction writers are prophets and sometimes wonder if the same can be true of anyone who pens a fictional story. Perhaps they are connecting to the universe in some strange and mystical way that we can’t fully comprehend resulting in a vision of the future. Take for instance The China Syndrome. The film, starring Jane Fonda and Michael Douglas, tells the fictional story of a reporter and her crew who discover safety coverups at a nuclear power plant and witness an accident that narrowly avoids a nuclear meltdown. It was released by Columbia Pictures on March 16, 1979, just 12 days before the partial nuclear meltdown at Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island. In one scene, a nuclear safety expert even says a meltdown could force an area “the size of Pennsylvania” to be evacuated. It also seems like Morgan Robertson was prophesizing in the 1898 novel Futility that tells the story of an “unsinkable ship” that hits an iceberg and meets its doom, but it would be 14 years before …

Have you ever thought of self-publishing a book?

In a new media age, self-publishing has become the quickest way for authors to put their books on the market. A handful have hit the big time, like Amanda Hocking, who landed a $2 million publishing deal with St. Martin’s press after self-publishing a series of paranormal e-books. Here are some Mississippi authors who have taken the self-publishing route to fulfill their literary aspirations. Monica Carter Tagore The book: Scandalous Truth is about a woman whose faith is tested when her husband runs for mayor and scandalous details from her past emerge. It will be released as a mass market paperback in August. Why self-publish? “I’ve dreamed of being a published author since working on a writing project in Mrs. Pollard’s class at Timberlawn Elementary School in Jackson,” she said. Tagore, who now lives in Los Angeles, created her own publishing company, RootSky Books, to market her self-published work, and later landed a book deal. “I knew it could take years to find an agent, and even if the agent found a publisher, it could …

Salvage the Bones

Along with William Faulkner, Walker Percy, Eudora Welty and Ellen Gilchrist, Mississippi has one more winner of The National Book Award to add to the list. Jesmyn Ward received the prestigious honor Nov. 15 for her 2011 book Salvage the Bones. “I did not expect to win it,” said Ward, a native of the Gulf Coast community of DeLisle, so small it doesn’t even have its own post office. “I wasn’t favored to win. I wasn’t on anyone’s radar. It was a total surprise. I still haven’t come to terms with it.” Ward received the recognition for her second book set in a small fictional town on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. “I wanted to tell the story about these characters, this family and Hurricane Katrina,” she said. “I thought it might get some reviews and some people might read it, like had happened with my first book, but I didn’t expect to win.” Growing up, Ward attended the small private Coast Episcopal High School before enrolling as an undergraduate at Stanford University. She enjoyed writing …

Dr. Seuss kicks

In Oh, the Places You’ll Go, Dr. Seuss writes, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.” Converse has debuted a line of Dr. Seuss sneakers featuring characters from his popular books. Some feature the Grinch’s face.They range in price from $35-$55. Got a comment? E-mail me at endyanna@earthlink.com or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save

Spiritual books

Here are a few religion books that came across my desk recently, in case you’re looking for a last-minute gift this holiday season. * Power, Freedom and Grace – Deepak Chopra writes about living from the source of lasting happiness. He considers the mystery of our existence and its significance in our eternal quest for happiness. Amber-Allen Publishing * Speaking to the Soul – Vicki K. Black, a deacon in the Episcopal Church for more than 20 years, offers daily readings for the Christian year. Based on the Episcopal Cafe’s popular column Speaking to the Soul, these spiritual readings for each day are from many Christian sources — from prayer books to saint biographies. Morehouse Publishing * Songs in Waiting – Paul-Gordon Chandler, an Episcopal priest, offers spiritual reflections on Christ’s birth with this celebration of Middle Eastern canticles. The book contains spiriutal meditations that focus on the ancient Middle Eastern songs celebrating the birth of Jesus. Morehouse Publishing * Healing Words for the Body, Mind and Spirit – Caren Goldman discusses 101 words to …

Ghost Cats of the South

This book was sent to us, and the cover gave me a chuckle. One Web site describes it as a “haunting and entertaining volume” that introduces the reader to “a helpful ghost cat in rural Kentucky who smells like soup” and “a hungry cat in Tunica, Miss., who will eat your face,” as well as other spirit felines. Got a comment? E-mail me at endyanna@earthlink.com or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save

Darwinmania?

New York Times writer Olivia Judson predicted today that Darwinmania will erupt next month upon the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s premiere announcement of the discovery of natural selection. The following year will be the 200th anniversary of his Feb. 12 birth, as well as the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Origin of Species. I have not finished reading The Origin of Species. (I have a habit of buying books, reading part of them, then buying more books.) But I decided to purchase it a while ago as a reference since Darwin’s theory still seems to be the subject of controversy, particularly in public schools where some argue that creationism and intelligent design should be offered in the science curriculum. I guess, because the theory has been controversial, I expected the book to be more philosophical when I began reading it, but it’s essentially a science text about natural selection. The word “evolution” sparks debate, but for some reason, most people seem to be OK with the term “natural selection.” “Natural selection” makes …

The Small Book Company

I am a big fan of Etsy.com, and my latest find is The Small Book Company. Jewelry artist Nicolette Tallmadge creates tiny earrings shaped like books. They were too cute to resist, so I ordered a pair. The company is geared toward book lovers who want to show their love and appreciation of books by dangling a pair from their ears. The tiny book covers are made from printed recycled paper, and each pair comes on an earring card that doubles as a mini book. Open the pages, and you can read about the history of the book. The free bookmark that came with my purchase made the product even more adorable. It features a quote by Henry Ward Beecher that reads “A book is a garden, an orchard, a storehouse, a party, a company by the way, a counselor, a multitude of counselors.” Got a comment? E-mail me at endyanna@earthlink.com or Tweet me at @lareecarucker.

Cat Cora comes to town

Jackson native Cat Cora recently came to town to conduct several cooking demonstrations at the Viking Classic golf tournament held at the Annadale Golf Club in Madison, Miss. Martha Hall Foose, who recently helped the famed chef defeat their competitors during an Iron Chef America battle, worked as her assistant during the cooking demonstration. “We were totally victorious,” Foose said of her television appearance. “It was the most nerve-wrecking thing I’ve ever done in my entire life.” Foose is currently preparing for her next stint on national television. The Yazoo City native will appear on “Good Morning America” June 10 to talk about her new cookbook, Screen Doors and Sweet Tea: Recipes and Tales from a Southern Cook. Published by Clarkson Potter ($32.50), the cookbook crosses literary genres with a Mississippi history theme. It’s filled with recipes, as well as photographs of Mississippi landscapes, landmarks and locals, Foose said. After graduating from high school, Foose worked at La Brea Bakery in Los Angeles. She attended culinary school at Ecole Lenotre in France before returning to …