Thursday, October 29, 2009

Short Takes

Booklist reviews GLASS CEILINGS AND 100-HOUR COUPLES: “An economist and an anthropologist teamed up to conduct hundreds of interviews for this insightful analysis of the ramifications of stepping off the career track to focus on motherhood. The authors bolster their conclusions with a dazzling (and sometimes daunting) collection of statistics as well as thorough end notes and an impressive bibliography. Their scholarship is balanced by numerous personal stories that elevate the study beyond the miasma of the mommy wars.”

Delta Farm Press strongly recommends WEEDS OF THE SOUTH: “Simply excellent.”

THE PILLARED CITY in Birmingham magazine and the Tuscaloosa News.

ROSALIE EDGE and the Mystery of the Missing Suitcase.

Tennessee Women and William Faulkner and the Southern Landscape (by Knoxville-based geography professor Charles S. Aiken) briefly noted on the newly launched Tennessee Humanities Foundation website Chapter 16.

Flannery contestant celebrates the new Flannery winners and the contest as a whole.

Upcoming area events:
Saturday, November 7, 6-9 pm
Rob Amberg will launch THE NEW ROAD with an exhibit opening at the Madison County Arts Council in Marshall, NC.

Digital Flannerys -- and paperback editions

Ha Jin’s story collection UNDER THE RED FLAG – which won the Flannery in 1996 – will be available in a Kindle edition by the end of the year; the press is also planning on other digital editions, to be available from both libraries and booksellers.

If you’re hot to read digital stories right this second, a Kindle edition is available for Anne Panning’s SUPER AMERICA, and Margot Singer’s THE PALE OF SETTLEMENT will be available soon.

As noted by the American Book Review, “The University of Georgia Press's Flannery O'Connor Award has released some of the most challenging and rewarding short fiction of the last three decades, publishing more than fifty collections since the award's inception in 1983.” In further celebration of more than a quarter century of great short stories, we are making much of our backlist of winning titles available in paperback.

Just released:
THE SEND-AWAY GIRL by Barbara Sutton

THE PEOPLE I KNOW by Nancy Zafris


by Gina Ochsner

Coming in March --new paper editions of:
-ICE AGE by Robert Anderson (“I was in the hands of an artist whose intelligence and yes, deftness, thrilled me” —Salon)

- THE EDGE OF MARRIAGE by Hester Kaplan (“We become mesmerized by the stark beauty of disintegration”—New Yorker)

- UNIFIED FIELD THEORY by Frank Soos (“Quietly spectacular”—Boston Review)

- EVENING OUT by David Walton (“His fine ear for the significant subtexts that lie beneath the banalities and half-sentences that intelligent people usually utter to one another give his better stories a gentle power”—NYTBR).

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

From series editor Nancy Zafris

The announcement of this year's winners of the Flannery O’Connor award for short fiction coincides with the publication of the winning collections from last year's competition: Geoffrey Becker’s BLACK ELVIS and Lori Ostlund’s THE BIGNESS OF THE WORLD.

Sadly, another coincidence: just a few days ago Charles East, the esteemed former editor of this series, passed away is his home state of Louisiana. Charles East helped launch the careers of many writers. I had the privilege of working with him when I won the Flannery O’Connor award in 1990. I still have the typewriter-typed pages of his meticulous edits and lengthy comments. A couple of stories in the original collection didn’t pass his muster. We took them out and added a couple of others. To this day I sometimes think, Good thing he got rid of that paragraph. I will be forever grateful to him for taking a potentially good collection and honing it into something better. He did the same for every writer.

Charles East got to experience the thrill many times over of selecting the winners and notifying them of their award. This year I had the pleasure of calling Jessica Treadway and Linda Grover, this year’s co-winners. This will be Linda’s first book of fiction. Her collection "Dance Boots" follows several generations of Ojibwe family members as they struggle, clear-eyed and stoic, to rise above the lot defined for them. There is a Willa Cather-like authenticity in these unique stories. In Jessica Treadway’s collection, "Please Come Home to Me," a variety of recognizable characters living a recognizable life make small turns that accrue toward big and surreal effect. Like the characters themselves, the reader ends these stories changed.

You don’t have to wait a year, however, to read award-winning stories. BLACK ELVIS and THE BIGNESS OF THE WORLD demonstrate the high literary standards Charles East demanded for the Flannery O’Connor award series.

THE BIGNESS OF THE WORLD takes us to exotic locales all over the world, yet Lori Ostlund’s small American towns might be the most exotic of them all. Publishers Weekly, in its starred review, called The Bigness of the World “remarkable” and “sublime.” This is Lori’s first book and she followed it with winning a $25,000 Rona Jaffe grant. Quite a banner 2009 after years of struggling.

“Black Elvis,” the title story of Geoffrey Becker’s winning collection, was featured in Best American Short Stories a few years ago. The many fans of this story, as well as newcomers to Geoffrey’s work, will be delighted by the other offerings in this collection and the way such imaginative premises play out in this superb craftsman’s hands. And music lovers and art connoisseurs will be further rewarded.

Fewer and fewer presses are in the position of publishing work based solely on literary merit--especially collections of short stories. The editor-in-chief of a large New York publishing house told me a few years ago that he would publish collections of poetry before collections of short fiction -- because they know up front that poetry won’t make money. Bottom line: because of profit margins, collections of short stories are avoided more than any other type of genre. I venture to say that if Flannery O’Connor were sending out her stories today, the big presses would be asking these questions: How do we market this? Can we make money? Perhaps Flannery O’Connor would be told the same thing told to many writers: give us a novel we can sell and we’ll agree to this collection.

The University of Georgia Press stands committed to the goals of the Flannery OConnor award for short fiction: to bring to the public works of lasting literary value. For me, it’s a great feeling to know that my charge is to find the best stories being written today, period. Nobody asks me for a marketing plan.

Please show your support for the two wonderful collections that just came out. You can find them at your local or online bookstores. Enjoy!

Announcing the winners of the 2009 Flannery O'Connor Short Fiction Award

The University of Georgia Press is pleased to announce the winners of the 2009 Flannery O’Connor Short Fiction Award: Linda L. Grover for her manuscript “The Dance Boots” and Jessica Treadway for her manuscript “Please Come Back to Me.” The award recognizes a superlative book-length collection of short fiction and includes a cash prize of $1000 and publication by the University of Georgia Press.

Linda LeGarde Grover is a professor of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, and an Ojibwe, a member of the Bois Forte Band of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe. Her academic research examines the effects of federal and state Indian education policy on Ojibwe children, families, and communities. Grover’s winning collection of interconnected short stories slips back and forth in time to give an account of the lives an extended family. In the process she illustrates the wide-reaching consequences of the federal policy of removing children from their families to be educated in off-reservation boarding schools.

Jessica Treadway is a native of upstate New York and a former reporter for United Press International. She is currently associate professor of Writing, Literature and Publishing at Emerson College. In most of the stories in her winning collection "Please Come Back to Me," the line between parents, partners, and children is strictly drawn; there are perspectives from all sides, but very little empathy in between. Treadway has previously published a collection of stories, Absent Without Leave (Delphinium) and a novel, And Give You Peace (Greywolf).

The press will begin accepting manuscripts for next year’s competition April 1.
Details about the award series and submission guidelines can be found here.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Short Takes

SPIRITS OF THE AIR in Common-Place.

GLASS CEILINGS AND 100-HOUR COUPLES in Inside Higher Ed and on Minnesota Public Radio. More info and a podcast at Macalester College's site for the book.

THE PILLARED CITY launches in Mobile; coverage in the Mobile Press-Register and Baldwin County Now.

ROSALIE EDGE, HAWK OF MERCY on Colorado Matters.

Interviews with newly released Flannery award winners online at Story in Literary Fiction; THE BIGNESS OF THE WORLD in the California Literary Review.

Indiana Review on last year’s winner DROWNING LESSONS.

Anne Panning’s SUPER AMERICA receives the Lillian Fairchild Award from the Department of English at the University of Rochester.

Michael Martone in the Sycamore Review.

Robin Ekiss (THE MANSION OF HAPPINESS) consulted on her favorite San Francisco spots in the San Francisco Examiner.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Roundtable on leadership and the Leo Frank lynching

This Thursday, the Georgia Historical Society presents a roundtable discussion featuring:
Roy Barnes, former Governor of Georgia

Matthew H. Bernstein, chair of the Emory University film studies department and author of SCREENING A LYNCHING

Steve Oney, author of And the Dead Shall Rise

The roundtable will take place at 7 pm at the studios of Georgia Public Broadcasting on 260 14th St NW in Atlanta. A thirty minute segment of the discussion will air on GPB following the November 2 showing of The People v. Leo Frank, a new documentary on the Leo Frank case directed by Ben Loeterman and filmed in Atlanta.

Barnes has been an important supporter of Loeterman's film, and Oney -- whose magazine article initially interested the director in doing the project -- served as a historical consultant to the project. Bernstein is an expert on film and television accounts of the Leo Frank case.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

In Memoriam: Charles East (1924-2009)

Charles East, a former Editor and Assistant Director of the UGA Press, died this past weekend. His contributions to the Press were many and long lasting.

Most notably, East founded—and for many years served as the series editor for—the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction. More than fifty short-story collections have appeared in this prestigious series, which has helped to launch the careers of such widely read authors as Ha Jin, Antonya Nelson, Rita Ciresi, and Mary Hood.

In addition, the Press published East's edition of The Civil War Diary of Sarah Morgan, one of our best selling and most widely reviewed titles. Following a successful run in hardcover, the book was reissued in paperback by Touchstone/Simon & Schuster where it is still available.

Today's edition of the Baton Rouge Advocate includes more details of the life and career of this accomplished editor and writer.

Update: A moving personal remembrance of Charles East's tenure at the Lousiana State University Press can be read at the LSU Press Blog.

Photo of Charles East © Ron E. Dobbs

Monday, October 05, 2009

Three Press Authors Selected for Georgia Writers Hall of Fame

Three University of Georgia Press authors--Judith Ortiz Cofer, Walter White, and Philip Lee Williams--will be inducted into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame in a ceremony tentatively scheduled for March 22–23, 2010, at UGA’s Miller Learning Center.

Judith Ortiz Cofer, born in Horminqueros, Puerto Rico, moved with her family to Augusta, Georgia, when she was fifteen. Her stories, poems, and personal essays explore the lives of young Puerto Ricans as they assimilate the native culture of their parents with their own adopted culture. In 1984, she joined the faculty of the University of Georgia, where she is now Regents and Franklin Professor of English and Creative Writing.

Ortiz Cofer has published several books with UGA Press, beginning with her first major work of prose fiction, THE LINE OF THE SUN, in 1989 and, most recently the poetry collection A LOVE STORY BEGINNING IN SPANISH. Her other UGA Press publications include EL DELI LATINO, the Spanish translation of her collection of personal narrative, short fiction, and poetry The Latin Deli, and both the English and Spanish versions of her nonfiction account of the process of becoming a writer, WOMAN IN FRONT OF THE SUN and MUJER FRENTE EL SOL.

Philip Lee Williams was born and raised in Madison, Georgia, in 1950. He serves as the director of public information for UGA’s Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, as well as an adjunct professor of creative writing at UGA. His first novel, THE HEART OF A DISTANT FOREST, won the Townsend Prize for Fiction in 1986 and was reprinted in paperback by UGA Press. Williams’s comic novel THE TRUE AND AUTHENTIC HISTORY OF JENNY DORSET(1997) and his memoir CROSSING WILDCAT RIDGE(1999) were also published by the Press. His most recent novel is The Campfire Boys, which released September 1.

Atlanta native Walter White(1893?-1955) served as chief secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) from 1929 to 1955 and was one of the most prominent and influential black leaders in the U.S. until mid-century. UGA Press has editions of his 1924 novel THE FIRE IN THE FLINT and his autobiography, A MAN CALLED WHITE, with a foreword by Andrew Young.

Exhibits open: New Orleans in Chicago and Mobile in Mobile

Two new books launch this Thursday in conjunction with the opening of related exhibits.

"After the Storm," an exhibit of Jane Fulton Alt's photographs of New Orleans opened Saturday at the Chicago Cultural Center's Michigan Avenue Gallery.

Alt, who as both social worker and photographer accompanied residents of New Orleans's Ninth Ward back to their homes for the first time after Hurricane Katrina, will sign copies of her new book LOOK AND LEAVE just before an opening reception for the exhibit on Thursday, October 8 at 5:30.

At the same time -- Thursday, October 8 at 5:30 -- the Museum of Mobile will host a launch event for THE PILLARED CITY, a new illustrated book from architectural historian John Sledge and photographer Sheila Hagler.

The event includes a sneak preview of their new exhibit "Pillars of the Community: Mobile's Greek Revival Movement," which opens to the public on Sunday. Proceeds from admission to the book launch will go toward the restoration of Barton Academy, a Greek Revival landmark in Mobile that is covered extensively in the book.

A review in this Saturday's Mobile Press-Register includes additional event details.

Poet Rita Dove in Athens this week

Because we've all been very, very good this year, The Georgia Review (with the support of the NEA American Masterpieces project and the Southern Arts Federation) is bringing the amazing Rita Dove to Athens this week for a series of public events on Thursday and Friday.

Dove won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize in poetry for her book Thomas and Beulah, which contains poems loosely based on the lives of her grandparents. (The historical Beulah was born in 1904 in Rockmart, Georgia.) She was poet laureate of the United States from 1993-1995, and was the youngest poet to have held this post and only the second African American, after Gwendolyn Brooks. Her most recent book, Sonata Mulattica, released this spring from Norton.

Several of Dove's poems appear in the anthology BLACK NATURE, forthcoming from the University of Georgia Press in December.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Ken Burns series examines Everglades tonight

The new Ken Burns documentary series, The National Parks: America's Best Idea, has been airing this week on most PBS stations. Episode 5, "Great Nature (1933-1945)," which airs tonight at 8 pm on Georgia Public Broadcasting and in many other markets, will feature the controversial bill to establish the Everglades as a national park in 1934.

The episode mentions Marjory Stoneman Douglas, who became an important public voice in support of the Everglades in the face of attitudes like those of a respected zoologist of the day, who argued that "a swamp is a swamp." However, the series is particularly drawn to the figure of George Melendez Wright, originally a naturalist at Yosemite who became in 1933 head of the National Parks Service's newly established wildlife division. Wright took a research party over the Everglades in the Goodyear blimp, and the quantity and diversity of wildlife he observed helped convert him to a fervent champion of establishing this unique swamp as a park.

If the episode stirs Everglades fever, take a look at the just-released EVERGLADES: OUTSIDE AND WITHIN by photographer Marion Belanger, or read Jack E. Davis's recent biography of Marjory Stoneman Douglas, AN EVERGLADES PROVIDENCE.

Great backlist titles on the natural history of the Everglades include naturalist Ted Levin's LIQUID LAND and Susan Cerulean's vivid account of a search for swallow-tailed kites, TRACKING DESIRE. Finally, for a true insider account of the wilderness Everglades, before development and drainage, try Rob Storter's charming, illustrated CRACKERS IN THE GLADE.