Short Takes: News and Reviews

Recently Cynthia Bertelsen took a trip to the Little White House in Warm Springs, GA, and wrote about it for Modern Salt. In her post, she profiles FDR’s cook, Daisy Bonner, who made sure she would not be forgotten to history by writing this note on the wall in the kitchen: “Daisy Bonner cook the 1st meal and the last one in this cottage for the President Roosevelt.” Bertelson noticed another intriguing detail in the kitchen…

dull_southerncooking_hBut there’s something else here, something that you don’t often find in most kitchens at historic sites. Just to the right of the wall sporting Daisy’s note, a rather large pantry looms behind a glass partition. Propped up on the long second shelf, sandwiched between various pieces of cooking equipment, sat a cookbook, Southern Cooking, a best-selling cookbook published in 1928 by Mrs. S. R. Dull, née Henrietta (‘Hennie’) Celestia Stanley. Worn, its spine broken, pages stained, that cookbook furnished Daisy with over 1300-plus recipes to choose from as she cooked FDR’s favorite dishes, among them Brunswick Stew, Country Captain, and Black Nut Cake.

Henrietta’s cookbook sold over 250,000 copies all over the country. So popular was it that the University of Georgia Press reissued it in 2006 with a Forward by Southern-food expert Damon Lee Fowler. Henrietta’s back story included a husband, Sam, who ‘dropped his basket’ in the late 1890s after almost ten years of marriage. His mental illness forced Henrietta to find a way to support their six children. Cooking saved her. ‘Suddenly I found I had to be the breadwinner,’ she once told a women’s group. ‘I knew how to make good things to eat … .'”

We are releasing the long-awaited paperback edition of Southern Cooking this October.

Congratulations to Dave Lucas, who was just awarded the 2016 Cleveland Arts Prize for Emerging Artist in the literature category. We published Lucas’s poetry collection Weather in 2011.

FOC_logo_peacock_gradient_purpleWriters of short fiction, take note: You have a few weeks left to show how serious you are about your craft. The deadline for entries to the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction is May 31st. Check out the series page for guidelines or go visit the submissions page.

This month we’re publishing Kaye Lanning Minchew’s A President in Our Midst: Franklin Delano Roosevelt in Georgia, which explores the Georgia–FDR connection and what it meant for the entire country. (Recently, Minchew contributed her own post to the blog on the anniversary of FDR’s death about his last trip to Warm Springs.) Monday, Minchew will be on Atlanta NPR affiliate WABE’s Closer Look with Rose Scott and Jim Burresson to discuss at 1:30 pm. Tune in!

Eliot Tretter, author of Shadows of a Sunbelt City, just completed a series of events in Austin, TX. While there he spoke with the Austin Monitor about all of the development pressures facing that city and the challenges they pose to its citizens, which you can listen to here. While this discussion is specific to Austin, many of the same issues are playing out in cities across the country. This interview should resonate with all citizens concerned about the future of their cities in the face of rapid development.


Good times for Blood, Bone, and Marrow: A Biography of Harry Crews by Ted Geltner: the reviews are coming in and they’re amazing (see below) and the book launch is next week at the Wrecking Bar in Atlanta. Ted and Michael Connelly will discuss the book and life of Harry Crews, sign books, and hang out. Jessica Handler (Invisible Sisters) will moderate the discussion. If you’re in Atlanta and interested, check out the Facebook event page. If you live outside the region but are interested in hearing Ted speak, check out the book’s Facebook page, which has details for upcoming events across the country, reviews, and other Crews-related curiosities.

lane_coyotesettles_heWe’re also really excited for the launch of John Lane’s latest, Coyote Settles the SouthJohn has a full slate of events scheduled in the southeast, many of them with Bronwen Dickey, author of Pit Bull: The Battle over an American Icon. The book launch is next week, May 17, at Hub City Bookshop in Spartanburg, SC, followed up by an event here in Athens on May 18, at Avid Bookshop. Check out the event page for the full schedule of events.





Blood, Bone, and Marrow
A Biography of Harry Crews
Ted Geltner
Foreword by Michael Connelly

Now we have Mr. Geltner’s biography to authoritatively fill in the gaps, and to trace the many stories behind the Crews legend. . . . Mr. Geltner. . . [has] written a lean and pleasingly consumable book by sticking to essentials. He’s delivered what Vladimir Nabokov said a biographer should: ‘plain facts, no symbol-searching, no jumping at attractive but preposterous conclusions, no Marxist bunkum, no Freudian rot.'”

—Dwight Garner, The New York Times

“Now, with Ted Geltner’s definitive biography, Blood, Bone and Marrow, Crews’ jagged edges and good works finally get their due in an unblinking look at a writer whose fierce intelligence and talent carried him so far from home he could never return, but whose darkness never entirely allowed him to leave. . . . [a] brilliant record of the life of one of our most afflicted and uniquely Southern writers…all the way down to the marrow.”

—Gina Webb, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

In the time it takes to read Sonja Livingston’s latest collection, Ladies Night at the Dreamland, you can slip into 20 lifetimes and just as many facets of The Feminine: a slave, a murderer, a daredevil, a muse; a sideshow curiosity gawked at by millions, and a blue-skinned woman isolated in Appalachia; a poet, a singer; a member of the disappeared. Dredged up from history, or memory, or fiction, the women populating these pages are simultaneously too little known and eminently worth knowing.”

—Sariah Dorbin, Los Angeles Review of Books

“The impulse to rescue and revive propels every essay in Livingston’s collection and demands a larger space—a dance hall she calls the Dreamland. . . . [Y]ou get the sense that Livingston would give every woman in history her moment on the stage if we lingered long enough to watch. . . . ”

—Kim Kankiewicz, Colorado Review


My Unsentimental Education
A Memoir by Debra Monroe

In her jaunty, wry, aphoristic, and aptly unsentimental style. . . [Monroe] describes her quick and vertiginous jump between echelons. Her prose is brisk, propulsive, infectious, and formally befitting of her subject matter. . . . My Unsentimental Education is at root a meditation on identity, on the irresolvable and often heartbreaking chasm that opens up inside oneself when one is caught between two different social classes.”
—Amanda Fortini, Los Angeles Review of Books

Reading [Kitchen’s] essays probably did more to open my mind to analyzing poetry than anything I have read or heard. Furthermore, her work tends to be enlightening rather than dictatorial. I will use What Persists many more times as a reference book on criticism more than I will use it as an analysis of the poems covered. It is said no one ever builds statues to critics, but Kitchen deserves one. She had great insight into poetry.”

Evil Cyclist

Milne’s deep contextualization of competing spatial understandings in the Natchez country is powerful, and his move to connect these themes to his larger history of racial formation is quite creative. In addition, the book is nicely written, making even the most theoretical aspects of the argument clear and easy to follow. It is a valuable contribution to our understanding of the Natchez, the events of 1729, and the history of race in early America.”

—Robert Michael Morrissey, American Historical Review


Mapping Region in Early American Writing
Edited by Edward Watts, Keri Holt, and John Funchion

Demonstrating that the antebellum US sustained a vibrant tradition of regional literature, these essays collectively argue that local writing complicated and/or contended with a federalist narrative of nation building. Throughout, the contributors draw attention to how early American literature was shaped by such local factors as overlapping legal imperatives, methods of crop production, and sustained race prejudice. The essays reveal impressive archival work that frequently unearthed interesting regional issues across a diverse collection of locales. . .”

—G.D. MacDonald, Choice


Poems by Simeon Berry
Selected by Denise Duhamel

Berry’s are definitely not ‘clunky avant-garde poems,’ and his work must be praised for its readability, its accessibility, the enjoyability of traversing this collection. The speaker’s tone welcomes readers, inviting them in for tea, biscuits and some minor reflections on catastrophe. The narrow margins set on the prose strophes make them a visual delight, and the eye gobbles them. But these poems are not merely pleasurable on the surface. Though they never hold the reader at a distance via their intellect, they are quite smart poems, filled with philosophical and religious debates, and peppered with allusions ranging from Raymond Chandler to Joan Didion to Leonard Cohen.”

—Jake Bauer, The Literary Review


North Carolina Women
Their Lives and Times, Volume 2
Edited by Michele Gillespie and Sally G. McMillen

This volume is a welcome addition to the scholarship on North Carolina women. Thanks to the book’s careful documentation, high school and college students could use one of the pieces as a springboard for further research on a particular woman or topic. Any of the essays would be an excellent choice for college course readings. The fluid writing and interesting subject matter make this volume a very pleasurable read.”

—Elizabeth Bramm Dunn, North Carolina Historical Review


Spaces of Danger
Culture and Power in the Everyday
Edited by Heather Merrill and Lisa M. Hoffman
Foreword by Paul Rabinow

Spaces of Danger is a fitting tribute to an original thinker in Geography. The individual essays each hold the reader’s interest, but more importantly they provide an interwoven web of key theoretical, analytic, methodological and conceptual insights into some of today’s most vexing problems.”

—Marv Waterstone, Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography

Behrend’s exploration of the coherence, no less than the contradictions, of popular mobilization is memorable. Here is a book for scholar and activist alike.”

—Julie Saville, American Historical Review

Reconstructing Democracy deepens, elaborates and adds to a broader debate over Reconstruction, with careful argument and the patient accrual of evidence. In the meticulous work found on every page – and in the abiding devotion of the author to the idea that common people have a political history – Behrend’s work is the perfect place for scholars to begin the work of re-imagining the history of America’s most tortured historical moment.”

—Erik Mathisen, Reviews in History

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