Tuesday, September 8, 2015

USC Press Great Reads now Available!

Idgie Says:

I originally posted  this shout out in June of this year as a heads up, but these books have all released now - in fact were all available for sale at the USC Press DBF Booth (hope you stopped by there!) and I wanted to refresh your memory  regarding them.  
Jonathan Haupt at the USC Press DBF booth, 2015


Previous posting:
Take a look at some of the intriguing novels coming out of USC Press in the upcoming months.  I am looking at a collection of fascinating books here.  Mary Hood writes absolutely wonderful characters crackling with vitality  - they are fully alive in your mind.   Jacob Jump looks like it will have us on the edge of our seats as we read it - I can feel the tension pouring out of the back cover description. The Headmaster's Darlings appears to be filled with wonderfully quirky characters and sarcasm - both of which I happen to adore in a good novel. 

Take a few minutes and peruse the descriptions of the books below.  I think you'll find yourself heading out to pick up a copy of one... or maybe several choices will be found below! 


A Clear View of the Southern Sky
Mary Hood
Foreword by Pat Conroy
Stories of women on the edge pursuing happiness and salvation through courage and human connection 
July, 2015
A Clear View of the Southern Sky reveals women in the twenty-first century doing what women have always done in pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness. In each of the ten tales from Southern storyteller Mary Hood, women have come—by circumstances and choice—to the very edge of their known worlds. Some find courage to winnow and move on; others seek the patience to risk and to stay. Along the way hearts, bonds, speed limits, fingernails, and the Ten Commandments get broken. Dust settles, but these women do not.

In the title story, a satellite dish company promises that happiness—or at least access to its programming—requires just a TV and a clear view of the Southern sky. The short story itself reveals the journey of a Hispanic woman whose mission is to assassinate a mass murderer, an agenda triggered by post-traumatic stress wrought by seeing the murderer's cynical grin on a news program. We follow her into the shadow of an enormous satellite dish on a roof across the street from the courthouse and ultimately into a women's prison English-as-Second-Language class where she must confront her life. She has slept but never dreamed, and now she wakes.

In other stories Hood introduces us to a kindergarten teacher, stunned by a student's blurted-out question, as she discovers her deepest vocation and the mystery of its source. We meet a widow who befriends a young neighbor, only to realize they must keep secrets from each other and hold fast to their hope. A woman trucker discovers the depth of her love as she imagines her cell phone calls—and her sweetheart's own messages—winging their way, tower to tower, along her interstate route. Two stories deal with one man and two of his wives and how they learn the lessons only love can teach about the reach and limitations of ownership and forever. The collection concludes with the novella "Seam Busters," in which a diverse cast of women workers in a rural Georgia mill sew camouflage for U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. The women are part of a larger purpose, and they know it. When the shadow of death passes over the factory, each woman and the entire community find out what it really means to have American pride.

Jacob Jump
A Novel
Eric Morris
Foreword by Pat Conroy
Old friends on a week-long boating trip seeking escape get caught in a terrifying current of fear and madness
August, 2015
Jacob Jump, the dark and meticulously crafted first novel from Eric Morris, follows a weeklong ill-fated boating trip down the Savannah River from Augusta, Georgia, to the lighthouse at Tybee Island. Chance and danger trump planning and intention at every turn, and the pull of the historic river and of fate itself propels Morris's characters with unrelenting force.

Old friends Thomas Verdery and William Rhind, each seeking temporary escape from the failures of their lives, take to the river with Rhind's father. Verdery, a native Southerner, has left his job and lover in Nepaug, Connecticut, while Rhind has lost his wife and child to his drinking. Encounters with dangerous weather and unhinged locals imperil the trio, who are held at gunpoint when they try to dock and soon are fighting among themselves. The hazards of the trip and a shocking loss along the way exacerbate William Rhind's drinking and tendencies toward violence.

When Verdery and Rhind must become reluctant custodians of young Caron Lee, a lost girl from the backwoods family that had previously accosted them, tensions build toward explosive ends as the serene open waters of the Atlantic Ocean wait just beyond reach on the unknown, unknowable horizon.


The Headmaster's Darlings
A Mountain Brook Novel
Katherine Clark
Foreword by Pat Conroy
A social satire of an unorthodox English teacher at an elite private school trying to save his students and career
August, 2015

The Headmaster's Darlings is a satirical comedy of manners featuring the morbidly obese Norman Laney, an unorthodox, inspirational English teacher and college counselor for an elite private school in Mountain Brook, a privileged community outside of Birmingham. A natural wonder from blue-collar Alabama, Laney has barged into the exclusive world of Mountain Brook on the strength of his sensational figure and its several-hundred-pound commitment to art and culture. His mission is to defeat "the barbarians," introduce true civilization in place of its thin veneer, and change his Southern world for the better. Although Laney is adored by his students (his "darlings") and by the society ladies (also his "darlings") who rely on him to be the life of their parties and the leader of their book clubs, there are others who think he is a larger-than-life menace to the comfortable status quo of Mountain Brook society and must be banished.

When Laney is summoned to the principal's office one day in November 1984, he expects to be congratulated for a recent public-relations triumph he engineered on behalf of the school. Instead his letter of resignation is demanded with no explanation given. Faced with an ultimatum and his imminent dismissal, Laney must outflank the principal at his own underhanded game, find out who said what about him and why, and launch his current crop of Alabama students into the wider world—or at least into Ivy League colleges.

In her debut novel, Katherine Clark casts a comical eye on Southern society and celebrates the power of great teachers and schools to transform the lives of young people and lift up their communities. Surrounded by a colorful cast of his colleagues, his young protégés and Mountain Brook's upper echelon, Laney emerges as a heroically idiosyncratic character with Falstaffian appetites, an inimitable wit and intellect, and a boundless generosity toward his students that reshapes their lives in profound, unexpected ways.