Monday, August 29, 2011

Janisse Ray launches new book on Altamaha River

Nationally acclaimed Georgia author Janisse Ray will launch her new book at the Decatur Book Festival this weekend. DRIFTING INTO DARIEN explores Ray's lifelong relationship with the Altamaha River in southeast Georgia.

The first part of the book chronicles a paddling trip along the entire length of the Altamaha, from where it begins at the confluence of the Oconee and Ocmulgee rivers to where it empties into the Atlantic Ocean near the town of Darien.

Born in Baxley, Georgia, which sits about ten miles from the Altamaha, Ray once fell in the river as a baby and both her family’s history and her own repeatedly connect with the river.

In the second part of the book, Ray writes about many facets of the Altamaha’s ecological significance and some of the threats to its remarkable biodiversity. The Altamaha, which has been the focus of decades of conservation effort by the Nature Conservancy, is the largest free-flowing, intact water system on the Atlantic coast and is home to more than 120 rare and endangered species.

Ray is the author of four books of literary nonfiction and a collection of poetry. Her debut book Ecology of a Cracker Childhood was considered groundbreaking for environmental writing because it brought attention not to a pristine region, but to the heavily timbered landscape of southeast Georgia which had once been covered in longleaf pine forest.

Ray also wrote powerfully about her family’s connection to the land and included topics such as mental illness, poverty and fundamentalist religion which were unusual in the nature writing genre.

Ecology of a Cracker Childhood was a New York Times Notable Book and was chosen as the Book All Georgians Should Read in 2002.

Ray has lectured and taught widely and is currently on faculty at Chatham University’s low-residency MFA program. She makes her home with her husband and son on a farm in southern Georgia where she attempts to live a simple, sustainable life.

As Georgia novelist Tina McElroy Ansa notes in praise for Drifting into Darien, “Janisse Ray is, and always has been, the real authentic deal.”

Selected event details -- for more visit

Saturday, September 3 @ 5:30 pm - Atlanta, GA
Decatur Book Festival (
Decatur Conference Stage (Ballroom B)
Free and open to the public

Saturday, September 26 @ 7:00 pm – Baxley, GA
Appling County Public Library, 300 City Hall Drive
Free and open to the public

Tuesday, October 11 @ 7:00 pm – Athens, GA
Seney-Stovall Chapel, 201 N. Milledge Ave.
Free and open to the public

Thursday, October 13 @ 6:00 pm – Darien, GA
Darien Waterfront Wine and Gourmet, 107 Broad St.
Book signing to benefit Altamaha Riverkeeper
$30 ticket includes wine and hors d’oeuvres

Tuesday, October 18 @ 7:15 pm – Atlanta, GA
Georgia Center for the Book
Reading with John Lane and Thomas Rain Crowe
Free and open to the public

Tuesday, October 25 @ 6 pm – Statesboro, GA
COBA (College of Business Administration) Room 1124, Forest Drive
Georgia Southern University
Free and open to the public

Thursday, November 3 @ 7 pm – Brunswick, GA
Brunswick-Glynn County Library, 208 Gloucester St.
Free and open to the public

Tuesday, November 8 @ 6:30 pm – Moultrie, GA
Moultrie-Colquitt County Library, 204 5th Street Southeast
Free and open to the public

Thursday, August 25, 2011

New Collaboration Formed with the Library Company of Philadelphia

The University of Georgia Press and the Library Company of Philadelphia have formed a partnership to support Race in the Atlantic World, 1700–1900, a series of books focused on racial aspects of transatlantic history.

“We are honored to be partnering with such a prestigious and influential organization as the Library Company of Philadelphia. Working together on the Press’s already well-established Race in the Atlantic World series will only serve to strengthen our shared mission of publishing and disseminating important new scholarship on African and African American history and culture,” says Nicole Mitchell, director of the University of Georgia Press.

Founded in 1731 by Benjamin Franklin, the Library Company was America’s first successful lending library and is its oldest cultural institution. It is now a repository of rare books and graphics specializing in American history and culture from the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries. The Library Company’s Program in African American History, directed by Erica Armstrong Dunbar of the University of Delaware, will work directly with the series.

“Disseminating the best scholarship in this important field is one of the goals of our Program in African American History,” says John C. Van Horne, director of the Library Company. “Partnering with the University of Georgia Press and its well-established series is a natural way for us to fulfill that part of our mission.”

The Race in the Atlantic World, 1700-1900 series was created by the University of Georgia Press in 2006 and is edited by Richard Newman, Patrick Rael, and Manisha Sinha. Nine books have already been published in the series, including work by established authors such as Philip Morgan, Marcus Wood, Afua Cooper, and Vincent Carretta. The series has also featured first books by an international cohort of emerging scholars including Gale Kenny, Jeannette Jones, and Mischa Honeck.

“Race in the Atlantic World has, over the past five years, produced a remarkable body of scholarship about the African Diaspora,” says Derek Krissoff, senior acquisitions editor at the University of Georgia Press. “With the additional resources and expertise made possible through our partnership with the Library Company, I’m confident that the series will accomplish even more exciting things.”

The first book under the new partnership will be Eva Sheppard Wolf’s Almost Free: A Story about Family and Race in Antebellum Virginia, to be published in spring 2012. Douglas Egerton, author of Year of Meteors: Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, and the Election that Brought on the Civil War, calls the forthcoming book “an elegant and illuminating study that reminds us just how complicated race was in the early national South.” All books in the copublished series will receive a subsidy from the Library Company to help fund publishing and printing costs.

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Events (and Beer) to Commemorate the Charleston Earthquake

On August 31, 1886, an earthquake devastated the city of Charleston and sent shocks up and down the east coast.

The authors of the recent release UPHEAVAL IN CHARLESTON, which describes both the quake itself and the political and social upheaval aftewards (including a sensational murder trial), will be taking part in several events to mark the 125th anniversary of the earthquake next week.

After the original quake, a company called Palmetto Brewery produced an Earthquake Beer for a celebration to mark the end of the earthquake damage. For the upcoming anniversary, the current Palmetto Brewery will release Aftershock beer, which will feature a historic photo from UPHEAVAL IN CHARLESTON on the label. Charleston's Sugar Bakeshop also plans to feature an earthquake cupcake.

On Sunday, August 28, from 2-5 pm, the Preservation Society of Charleston is hosting an anniversary event with authors Steve Hoffius and Susan Williams at the historic Wentworth Mansion at 149 Wentworth Street in Charleston. Tickets, available online, include food, drink, and a tour of the mansion; proceeds benefit the Seven to Save preservation campaign. The mansion, built as the private home of businessman Francis Silas Rodgers, was under construction at the time of the quake.

In a second event that is free and open to the public (but will not, alas, include Aftershock beer), the authors will speak at the College of Charleston's Addlestone Library, Room 227, on Wednesday, August 31 at 6 pm. The talk is sponsored by the Program in the Carolina Lowcountry and the Atlantic World. Addlestone Library will have an online exhibit and window display featuring information about the quake.

On Saturday, September 3 at 7 pm, the earthquake will be the theme of the Charleston RiverDogs vs. Asheville Tourists game at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. ballpark at 360 Fishburne St. in Charleston. Earthquake beer will be available and the authors will be on hand for a signing. Facts about the quake will be announced every half inning.

Charleston Earthquake Anniversary Event details

Sunday, August 28, 2-5 pm
Wentworth Mansion, 149 Wentworth Street
Talk, tour and refreshments
Tickets $35, available at

Wednesday, August 31 @ 6 pm
College of Charleston, Addlestone Library Room 227, 205 Calhoun St.
Sponsored by CLAW
Free and open to the public

Saturday, September 3 @ 7:05 pm
Earthquake anniversary day at the Charleston RiverDogs ballpark
Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Par, 360 Fishburne St.
Tickets start at $6

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Before Katrina, there was Camille

Forty-two years ago, on August 17, 1969, Hurricane Camille hit Mississippi. Nothing in modern hurricane history has quite matched the combination of it's sustained wind speeds, barometric lows, and storm surge—not to mention the reach of its destructive path (from the Mississippi Gulf Coast to the Appalachians of central Virginia).

If our now-familiar system of rating Atlantic storms had been in use at the time, Camille would have been a Category 5—with a vengeance—when it made landfall. It's a testament to Camille's devastation that it inspired the implementation of the Saffir-Simpson scale, which rates hurricane severity across a range from 1 to 5.

In CAMILLE, 1969, historian Mark M. Smith revisits Camille's ground zero in southern Mississippi. Smith brings alive the sensory experience and impact of the hurricane—how the storm rearranged and challenged residents’ senses of smell, sight, sound, touch, and taste. He also discusses how longstanding attitudes and customs based on race and class fared in the storm's aftermath.
Courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Central Library

Smith was recently a guest on the South Carolina public radio show Walter Edgar's Journal. "Something as powerful as Camille . . . throws a society back into almost a premodern era," Smith told Edgar, as he explained how Mississippians' worlds were "utterly rearranged" by Camille at both physical and psychological levels. Listen to Smith's entire interview online at ETV Radio.

Mark M. Smith has a longstanding interest in sensory history, which he describes as a "vibrant area of historical inquiry dedicated to examining the roles played by olfaction, hearing, touch, and taste (as well as vision) in shaping the past." To learn more about sensory history, check out HEARING HISTORY, the first anthology devoted to aural history.

Other hurricane-related titles from the Press include BEYOND KATRINA and LOWCOUNTRY HURRICANES. And for further insights into how a large-scale natural disaster can disrupt—often for the better—a stricly ordered society, check out the recently released UPHEAVAL IN CHARLESTON, about the famous 1886 earthquake in South Carolina.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Why Uga Rules*

For football fans the end of summer is a special time, a time of hope and anticipation as teams gear up and road trip and tailgating plans come together. For Georgia fans, and really for all SEC fans, one figure looms large as fall approaches, and it's not a coach or a player. It's Uga—one of the most famous and revered collegiate mascots.

“Let the word go forth to every present and future Georgia football player or coach,” noted Boston Globe columnist and ESPN commentator, Bob Ryan. “You may win the Heisman Trophy. You may capture the national championship. But no matter what you do, you will remain the A-Rod to Uga’s Jeter. In the state of Georgia, Uga rules.*”

Sure, there are other great mascots out there. High marks have to go to the University of Colorado for the sheer insanity of running Ralphie the Buffalo onto the field each game. Who would have thought a nut could make a good mascot, but somehow Brutus the Buckeye works for Ohio State. There are even enough other bulldog mascots out there to form a decent-size pack.

But Uga is special, in large part because of the unusually rich and colorful history surrounding the mascots going back more than fifty years. In DAMN GOOD DOGS!: THE REAL STORY OF UGA, THE UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA'S BULLDOG MASCOTS, Sonny Seiler, owner of the Uga bulldogs since 1956, and Kent Hannon tell the story of the Uga tradition. Lavishly illustrated with more than 500 photos and just revised to include sections on Uga VI, Uga VII, Uga VIII, and Russ, the super sub, this is the perfect book for UGA students, alums, and any member of the Bulldog nation.

You can meet Kent Hannon (left) and Sonny Seiler (right) and get a signed book at the following events:

Saturday, Aug. 20 / 1:00-3:00 p.m.
Athens, GA
UGA Football Picture Day signing. This is a ticketed event with limited capacity. For more info click here.

Saturday, Sept. 3 / 10:00 a.m.
Decatur, GA
Decatur Book Festival talk and signing at the Decatur Presbyterian Church. For more info on the festival click here.

Friday, Sept. 9 / 11:00-1:00 p.m.
Macon, GA
Signing at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame

Saturday, Sept. 10 / 12:00-1:00 p.m.
Athens, GA
Signing at the University of Georgia Bookstore

Friday, Nov. 4 / 3:00-5:00 p.m.
Athens, GA
Signing at the Georgia Center in the Pecan Tree Gallery

Friday, Nov. 18 / time TBD
Athens, GA
Signing at the University of Georgia Bookstore for UGA Alumni Night

Publication of this book was made possible, in part, by the President’s Venture Fund through generous gifts of the University of Georgia Partners. A portion of the proceeds from sales of this book benefits the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine.

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Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor featured at Atlanta author dinner

On Tuesday, August 23rd, Restaurant Eugene will welcome Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor to be the next featured author in the Eugene Author Dinner series. Her book, VIBRATION COOKING, OR, THE TRAVEL NOTES OF A GEECHEE GIRL, will be the featured book, and as usual, Restaurant Eugene’s celebrated chef, Linton Hopkins, will prepare a meal inspired by the author’s work.

Vibration Cooking is an autobiographical cookbook, telling Smart-Grosvenor’s story from her childhood in the South Carolina lowcountry, to her travels around Paris and Italy, and her experience in the Black Arts Movement of New York City. Her experiences provide a background for the book’s narrative and inform the “recipes” featured within. Ms. Grosvenor calls herself a “poet, culinary anthropologist and writer,” but she is certainly much more than that.

In addition to Vibration Cooking, which was first published in 1970 and is just re-issued by UGA Press, she has written essays, poems and articles for magazines and newspapers such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, Redbook and Ebony. She is a regular contributor to National Public Radio’s Cultural Desk, and hosted the award-winning documentary series Horizons. She was a member of the Sun Ra Solar-Myth Arkestra and composed an opera entitled “N’Yam.” She was also in the film version of Beloved.

In Vibration Cooking, Smart-Grosvenor makes a case for the importance of Geechee (or gullah) cooking, and its marriage of African influences and what we now think of as traditional Southern food. She was one of the first writers to proclaim the cultural importance of Gullah food. Smart-Grosvenor’s book also emphasizes spontaneity while cooking, using the word “vibration” to refer to cooking by feelings rather than precise measurements, and simply using the ingredients on hand rather than following an exact recipe. During the meal, Smart-Grosvenor will read from and discuss her book. This dinner will surely delight librophiles, gastronomes and farm to table foodies alike.

Festivities begin at 6:30 with a reception and book signing. A four course dinner with pairings will be seated at 7pm. Cost is $105 per person; reservations are required. A complimentary copy of Vibration Cooking will be given to each guest. Smart-Grosvenor will also be available for a signing afterward.

For more information, visit Restaurant Eugene’s web page: or call 404.355.0321

Friday, August 05, 2011

Winners Announced for the Flannery O'Connor Short Fiction Award

Congratulations to E.J. Levy and Hugh Sheehy, this year's winners of the Flannery O'Connor Short Fiction Award! The competition, now in its twenty-eighth year, is one of the most prestigious routes to publication for literary short fiction collections; previous winners include writers such as Ha Jin and Antonya Nelson.

Levy's collection MY LIFE IN THEORY and Sheehy's collection THE INVISIBLES will be published by the University of Georgia Press and will be available in Fall 2012.

Hugh Sheehy's fiction has been published in Crazyhorse, Glimmer Train, The Kenyon Review, The Antioch Review, The Saint Ann’s Review, The New Orleans Review, Southwest Review, Redivider and in the anthology The Best American Mystery Stories 2008. He lives in Brooklyn. This is his first book.

E.J. Levy’s anthology, Tasting Life Twice: Literary Lesbian Fiction by New American Writers, won a Lambda Literary Award and was “highly recommended” by Library Journal, which called it “beautiful, sad, sweet, moving, and defiant.” Her essays have appeared in Best American Essays, The New York Times, The Nation, Orion, Salmagundi, Kenyon Review, The Pushcart Prize Anthology, and The Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction: 1970 to the Present; her fiction has been published in the Paris Review, Gettysburg Review, The Missouri Review, and North American Review, among other fine publications. Her memoir Amazons: A Love Story is forthcoming.

The runner up in this year's competition is Alison Baker of Lexington, VA. Additional finalists for the award are Gilbert Allen of Travelers Rest, SC; Ellyn Bache of Greer, SC; Lois Bassen of Lincoln, RI; Sterling Bennett of Laredo, TX; Thomas Benz of Evanston, IL; Mark Brazaitis of Morgantown, WV; Polly Buckingham of Medical Lake, WA; Daniel Coshnear of Guerneville, CA; Janice Deal of Downers Grove, IL; Elizabeth Eslami of Branford, CT; Valerie Fioravanti of Sacramento, CA; Gary Gildner of Grangeville, ID; Suzanne Greenberg of Long Beach, CA; Dawn Houghton of Salt Lake City, UT; Tom Kealey of Greensboro, NC; Laura Krughoff of Chicago, IL; Lynne Kutsukake of Toronto, ON; Karen Laws of Berkeley, CA; Nikki Nojima Louis of Seattle, WA; Kelly Luce of Santa Cruz, CA; Brendan Mathews of Lenox, MA; Nina McConigley of Laramie, WY; Robin McLean of Bristol, NH; Kyle Mellen of Fairbanks, AK; Keya Mitra of Spokane, WA; Andy Mozina of Kalamazoo, MI; Nathan Oates; Dan Pope of West Hartford, CT; Glen Pourciau; Susan Rodgers of Corvallis, OR; Laura Schadler of San Francisco, CA; Jenn Scott of Oakland, CA; Hasanthika Sirisena of Rocky Mount, NC; Adam Sturtevant of Brooklyn, NY; D.J. Thielke of Houston, TX; Steve Yates of Flowood, MS; and Jenny Zhang of Iowa City, IA.

Congratulations to all for creating compelling short fiction. The award-winning books selected in last year's competition, AT-RISK by Amina Gautier("In these always engaging stories, Gautier reminds us that behind the disturbing headlines are vibrant young people whose lives matter immeasurably") and BEAR DOWN BEAR NORTH by Melinda Moustakis ("In this sharply-crafted debut collection, Moustakis invites readers into a world filled with gruff characters, breathtaking wilderness, and a fierceness of spirit as crisp as the Alaskan winter"), will release in September.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Short Takes: Never loses its pace

C-SPAN featured an interview with the authors of UPHEAVAL IN CHARLESTON as part of their "Charleston Weekend" programming on BookTV and American History TV. Williams and Hoffius will give a talk Tuesday 8/9 at the Upcountry History Museum in Greenville, SC, and Wednesday 8/10 at Hub City Books in Spartanburg.

Flannery O'Connor Short Fiction Award winner Melinda Moustakis received a starred review from Publishers Weekly for her "sharply-crafted debut collection" BEAR DOWN BEAR NORTH.

Kirkus Reviews on David Vann's forthcoming LAST DAY ON EARTH ("A carefully crafted account of a descent into fatal madness.")

STREETS OF MEMORY by Amy Mills in the New York Review of Books.

Iain Haley Pollock (SPIT BACK A BOY) interviewed on WHYY's Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane.

Barry Brown (CROSSROADS OF CONFLICT) profiled in the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

LITERARY CAPITAL in WETA's InReads, Foreword Reviews, and the Georgetown Current.

COMPANY TOWNS IN THE AMERICAS reviewed in The Americas ("a welcome contribution to pan-American industrial history"; INTO A LIGHT BOTH BRILLIANT AND UNSEEN covered in Bloomsbury Review ("each excellent interview gives fresh insight into the poet's work"); ALABAMA GETAWAY in the Mobile Press-Register ("Alabama’s politicians and activists alike would do well to read this book.")

The review service Book News covers several recent titles, including WE ARE THE REVOLUTIONISTS: "Lucidly written, with a focus on the human story, this fascinating volume tells the story of the fight to abolish slavery in the U.S. with a new perspective: the active role played by radical democrats from Germany. . . . Honeck's engaging narrative never loses its pace, despite the extensive primary sources incorporated into the text."

Dirty Book Sale coming in November

Save the date for the Press's annual Dirty Book Sale. Always anticipated by book enthusiasts and bargain seekers, the sale will include thousands of overstocked and slightly shelf-worn UGA Press books (most under $5). Subjects will include fiction, poetry, African American studies, American and Southern history, civil rights history, women’s history, Civil War history, decorative arts, ecology, environmental history, field guides, folklore, natural history, and southern studies, so you never know what you might find.

The sale will take place—rain or shine—on November 10 & 11 at the Tate Student Center Plaza, on the UGA Campus.

The hours will be:
Thursday, November 10
9 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. (valid UGA I.D.-holders only)
1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. (open to the public)

Friday, November 11
9 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (open to the public)

Paid hourly parking will be available at the Tate Student Center Deck.