Eby brings fine sensibility to her readings of all her subjects’ works and, in polished prose, offers a fresh look at their...




Seeking the heart of Southern writing.

Essayist and journalist Eby (Rock and Roll Baby Names: Over 2,000 Music-Inspired Names, from Alison to Ziggy, 2012) pays homage to 10 Southern writers in this illuminating journey to the homes, towns, and landscapes that nurtured them. Growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, the author came to understand her identity as a Southerner by reading Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty, Harper Lee, and, of course, William Faulkner. Besides these usual suspects, she includes the “harsh and haunting” Harry Crews, memoirist Richard Wright, Lee’s irascible friend Truman Capote, and fiction writers Barry Hannah, John Kennedy Toole, and Larry Brown. Eby embarked on this odyssey, she writes, “to see the places they had lived in and written about, to breathe the same air, to hear the same accents and meet the same people.” Many homes have been preserved for visitors. Being in Welty’s, Eby reports, feels “like dropping into one of her stories.” At O’Connor’s Andalusia Farm in Milledgevile, Eby imagined her surrounded by her peacocks, writing in a “small, almost monastic” room with a single bed and plain wooden desk. Both Welty and O’Connor felt cowed by Faulkner’s reputation. He was like “a big mountain, something majestic,” Welty said. “I keep clear of Faulkner so my own little boat won’t get swamped,” O’Connor told a friend. Visiting Faulkner’s home in Oxford, Mississippi, Eby particularly noted his bookshelves, “custom made to store his shotgun shells along the sides,” and his liquor cabinet, replete with bottles of whiskey. She also traveled to Monroeville, a town that finds myriad ways to celebrate Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. She traces Crews’ painful childhood in Bacon County, Georgia, and sensitively evokes Toole’s New Orleans as well as his posthumous novel, A Confederacy of Dunces.

Eby brings fine sensibility to her readings of all her subjects’ works and, in polished prose, offers a fresh look at their lives and literary legacies.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-393-24111-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 13, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet



Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

Did you like this book?