The following books by authors that are either born in Alabama or who have lived in Alabama and written about Alabama culture are available either at the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library Main or at one of the branches in the HMCPL system.
From the book jacket: Winner of a Pulitzer Prize in 1933, 'The Store' is the second novel of Stribling's monumental trilogy set in the author's native Tennessee Valley region of north Alabama..Stribling succeeds brilliantly in presenting the essence of an age through the everyday lives of his characters."
From the book jacket: "'Unfinished Cathedral' is the third novel in the trilogy that was to become known as Stribling's greatest literary achievement...this final novel continues the story of the dramatic transformation in the social structure of the South which saw the control of society shift from the landowners and merchants to the rising middle class, significant changes in the status of women and blacks, and economically, a surge of prosperity caused by the land boom and Northern investments."
From the book jacket: "One of the most important works of ttwentieth-century American literature, Zora Neale Hurston's beloved 1937 classic is an enduring Southern love story sparkling with wit, beauty, and heartfelt wisdom...it is the story of fair-skinned, fiercely independent Janie Crawford, and her evolving selfhood through three marriages and a life marked by poverty, trials, and purpose...Hurston's masterwork remains as relevant and affecting today as when it was first published."
From the book description on Amazon.com: 'Published when Truman Capote was only twenty-three years old, Other Voices, Other Rooms is a literary touchstone of the mid-twentieth century. In this semiautobiographical coming-of-age novel, thirteen-year-old Joel Knox, after losing his mother, is sent from New Orleans to live with the father who abandoned him at birth. But when Joel arrives at Skully’s Landing, the decaying mansion in rural Alabama, his father is nowhere to be found. Instead, Joel meets his morose stepmother, Amy, eccentric cousin Randolph, and a defiant little girl named Idabel, who soon offers Joel the love and approval he seeks. Fueled by a world-weariness that belied Capote’s tender age, this novel tempers its themes of waylaid hopes and lost innocence with an appreciation for small pleasures and the colorful language of its time and place.'
From the book jacket: "Set on the outskirts of a small Southern town, The Grass Harp tells the story of three endearing misfits--an orphaned boy and two whimsical old ladies--who one day take up residence in a tree house. As they pass sweet yet hazardous hours in a china tree, The Grass Harp manages to convey all the pleasures and responsibilities of freedom. But most of all it teaches us about the sacredness of love, "that love is a chain of love, as nature is a chain of life."
From the book jacket: "Walter displays an imaginative and skillful use of language. The world he creates is firmly grounded in geographic, social, and liguistic realities that Alabamians will recognize....'The Untidy Pilgrim' is an engaging story that captures the facts and the feelings of a marvelous social class peculiar to the coast and coastal plains of Alabama."
This classic novel, originally published in 1960, depicts life in a racially segregated small town in the 1930's from the retrospective point of view of the young girl Scout and what she learns from the events surrounding a trial in which her father, attorney Atticus Finch, defends the plantiff, a black man accused of rape.
In November 1959 in Holcomb, Kansas an entire family was savagely murdered. The killers left almost no clues and no motive could be discerned. Truman Capote reconstructs the murder, subsequent investigation, capture, trial and execution of the killers, creating one of the best non-fiction accounts of an American crime ever written.
From the book jacket: "'Better Times Than These' is a novel on the largest scale--a total portrait of men caught up in war...Winston Groom, who was himself in Vietnam, writes of men in battle with a vividness and strength that could only come out of having lived that experience. And readers will understand perhaps for the first time what it was like to fight that jungle war against an invisible enemy--and will know that the true horror was not the politics of Vietnam but war itself."
From the book jacket: "Meet Forrest Gump, the lovable, Hurculean, and surprisingly savvy hero of this remarkable comic odyssey. After accidentally becoming the star of the University of Alabama's football team, Forrest goes on to become a Vietnam War hero, a world-class Ping-Pong player, a villainous wrestler, and a business tycoon-as he wonders with childlike wisdom at the insanity all around him."
Fannie Flagg's double narrative tells the tale of two women: in the 1980's, old Mrs. Threadgoode and Evelyn, a frustrated middle aged housewife; in the 1930's, daredevil tomboy Idgie and her friend Ruth, who runs a cafe in Alabama specializing in barbecue, good coffee, love, laughter and an occasional murder.
From Wikipedia: "The story is set in the early 1960s and makes observations about changes in America at that time, with particular emphasis on the Civil Rights Movement. Several of the characters are connected to the Ku Klux Klan, and the segregation of the black community is dealt with in some detail...the book deals with 12-year-old Cory Mackenson, who grows up in the town of Zephyr, Alabama. The story begins as Cory's father, Tom, watches a car drive straight into a deep lake and sink to the bottom with a passenger inside. Tom jumps in and tries to save the driver of the car, only to discover that the man is actually a murder victim. This vision, and the realization that there is evil in the small town of Zephyr, is enough to haunt Cory's father. Meanwhile, Cory has several adventures with his friends (Johnny, Davy Ray, and Ben), such as flying with their dogs on the last day of school."
From the book jacket: "Flooded by memories, poisoned by the deadly fallout of Agent Orange, and desperate for work, Dan Lambert kills a man in a moment of blind fear and fury. It is an act he cannot excuse--a mistake that will change his life forever. Now Dan is on the run, heading south toward the Louisiana bayous. On his trail are police officers and bounty hunters, including the most memorable and bizarre team ever paired in modern fiction: Pelvis Eisley, an Elvis impersonator of the worst kind, and Flint Murtaugh, a fastidious, ruthless loner and freak-show refugee who carries the body of his unformed twin brother on his side."
From the book jacket: "Childress delivers the touching and vastly entertaining tale of Peejoe, an orphan boy who comes of age during a racially restless summer in the Deep South, and Lucille, his zany aunt who flees from a soul-numbing marriage--a union she can't entirely escape in the end. For both Lucille and Peejoe, the summer of '65 will live on as the time when everybody went crazy in Alabama."
From the book jacket: "A haunting memoir about growing up dirt-poor in the pines of Alabama--and about moving on but never really being able to leave...All Over But the Shoutin' is a gripping account of people struggling to make sense and solidity of life's capricious promises. A classic piece of Americana, it is made vividly, movingly particular by Rick Bragg's searching vision, generous humor, and richly nuanced voice."
Huntsville resident Homer H. Hickam recalls his youth in Coalwood, West Virginia in this extraordinary memoir. Feeling trapped in the little company town where the only future was a job in coal mining, young Homer bonded with a group of misfits enthralled with the prospect of rocket building and its possibilities, one of which led to a career with NASA.
From Amazon.com: 'In his prime, Edward Bloom was an extraordinary man. He could outrun anybody. He never missed a day of school. He saved lives and tamed giants. Animals loved him, people loved him, women loved him. He knew more jokes than any man alive. At least that’s what he told his son, William. But now Edward Bloom is dying, and William wants desperately to know the truth about his elusive father―this indefatigable teller of tall tales―before it’s too late. So, using the few facts he knows, William re-creates Edward’s life in a series of legends and myths, through which he begins to understand his father’s great feats, and his great failings. The result is hilarious and wrenching, tender and outrageous.'
From the book jacket: "In his fifth novel, the much priased author of 'Crazy in Alabama' gives us the wild, comic, and uptimately moving odyssey of a 1970s folk rock star, Ben "Superman" Willis...a spiritual exploration of the mysteries of celebrity, success, money, love, sex...and magic.'
"H.E. Francis...is perhaps the most passionate stylist, evoling, at certain felicitous moments, a Faulknerian power--lyric, strident, repetitious, memorable...Mr. Francis' intense, obdurate, and highly idiomatic voice takes the most risks, and afford, for the patient reader, the most rewards." --Joyce Carol Oates
From the book jacket: "With a few precise words Francis brands imates of his characters into the reader's mind--the thin lady at the carnival in "The Other Side of the Fire," the institutionalized Hannah in "Had," the dying, young professor in "The Impossible."
From the book jacket: "Thirty years after man's first lunar landing, retired NASA engineer Homer Hickam, Jr. offers a brilliantly imaged, endlessly entertaining novel...he reminds us of the long-lost wonder with which we once watched America's conquest of the moon--and celebrated there--in this page-turning tale of the first moon shot of the new millennium."
From the Forward by Pamela Bordelon: "This book gathers together for the first time the complete body of Zora Neale Hurston's writings done for the Federal Writers' Project (FWP). Hurston and thousands of other writers, white-collar workers, and "hangers-on" found foundational solace during some of the darkest days of the Great Depression working for this highly creative literary unit of the Works Progress Administration (WPA)."
Summary: A companion to Herman Melville's "Moby-Dick," in which Una Spenser tells the story of her life, and discusses her loving marriage to Captain Ahab before the white whale took his leg and drove him into madness.
From Amazon.com: 'Regret looms large in Daniel Wallace's latest novel, Ray in Reverse, the funny and poignant story of a life, told backward. Sitting in the Last Words support group in Heaven, Ray Williams ruminates on his short life of fifty years, his episodes of infidelity, his premature marriage proposal, his sexual confusion, the dog he accidentally killed, and the baby he unwittingly saved. Ray is Everyman at his very best and his absolute worst-even he can't always tell the difference. Beginning at death and ending in his childhood, Ray in Reverse leads us back to Ray in his innocence, achieving, against all odds, a happy ending.'
From the book jacket: "The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of 'All Over But the Shoutin'' continues his personal history of the Deep South with an evocation of his mother's childhood in the Appalachian foothills during the Great Depression, and the magnificent story of the man who raised her."
From Amazon.com: 'An endearing, often outrageous blend of fable, tall tale, and page-turner, The Watermelon King brings readers to Ashland, Alabama -- the fictional town immortalized in Daniel Wallace's Big Fish -- whose reputation is based on the long-ago abundance of watermelons. Thomas Rider knows almost nothing about his parents, only that his mother died the day he was born in Ashland. He travels there in search of his past, learning of the town's bizarre history. Gradually with the help of an offbeat, utterly unforgettable cast of characters, Thomas finds himself immersed in a series of events that turns everything he knows upside down. Comic, poignant, and wholly original, The Watermelon King is a magical novel steeped in the power of identity, myth, and good old-fashioned southern storytelling.'
From the book jacket: "Four Spirits is set in Sena Jeter Naslund's home city of Birmingham, Alabama, a city that in the 1960's was known as Bombingham. Naslund brings to life this tumultous time, weaving together the lives of blacks and whites, civil rights advocates and racists, and the events of peaceful protest and violent repression, to create a tapestry of American social transformation."
From Wikipedia: 'The First Part Last is a young adult novel by Angela Johnson that deals with the subject of teen pregnancy. Johnson writes the story in first person narration from the perspective of Bobby, the 16-year-old father, setting it apart from most books on the subject. The book is divided into four parts and its chapters alternate between "then" and "now." Bobby and Nia, the child's mother, are urban upper-middle-class African-American teenagers in New York. Although the parents initially intended to give their daughter Feather up for adoption, Bobby raises the little girl on his own and realizes how hard it truly is to be a parent.' Winner of the Alabama Author Award in 2005.
From Amazon.com book description: 'Three-time Coretta Scott King Award-winning author Angela Johnson and New York Times bestselling illustrator Loren Long invite readers to ponder a band of undercelebrated World War II heroes -- the Tuskegee Airmen. With fleeting prose and transcendent imagery, this book by the masterful author/artist duo reveals how a boy's love of flight takes him on a journey from the dusty dirt roads of Alabama to the war-torn skies of Europe and into the hearts of those who are only now beginning to understand the part these brave souls played in the history of America.'
From Amazon.com: 'From the celebrated author of Big Fish comes an imaginative, moving novel about two sisters, their dark legacy, and the magical town that entwines them.
Helen and Rachel McCallister, who live in a town called Roam, are as different as sisters can be: Helen, older, bitter, and conniving; Rachel, beautiful, naïve—and blind. When their parents die suddenly, Rachel has to rely on Helen for everything, but Helen embraces her role in all the wrong ways, convincing Rachel that the world is a dark and dangerous place she couldn’t possibly survive on her own…or so Helen believes, until Rachel makes a surprising choice that turns both their worlds upside down.
In this new novel, southern literary master Daniel Wallace returns to the tradition of tall tales and folklore made memorable in his bestselling novel Big Fish. Wildly inventive and beautifully written, The Kings and Queens of Roam is a big-hearted tale of family and the ties that bind.'
From Amazon.com: 'The greatest Southern storyteller of our time, New York Times bestselling author Rick Bragg, tracks down the greatest rock and roller of all time, Jerry Lee Lewis—and gets his own story, from the source, for the very first time.
A monumental figure on the American landscape, Jerry Lee Lewis spent his childhood raising hell in Ferriday, Louisiana, and Natchez, Mississippi; galvanized the world with hit records like “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” and “Great Balls of Fire,” that gave rock and roll its devil’s edge; caused riots and boycotts with his incendiary performances; nearly scuttled his career by marrying his thirteen-year-old second cousin—his third wife of seven; ran a decades-long marathon of drugs, drinking, and women; nearly met his maker, twice; suffered the deaths of two sons and two wives, and the indignity of an IRS raid that left him with nothing but the broken-down piano he started with; performed with everyone from Elvis Presley to Keith Richards to Bruce Springsteen to Kid Rock—and survived it all to be hailed as “one of the most creative and important figures in American popular culture and a paradigm of the Southern experience.”
Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story is the Killer’s life as he lived it, and as he shared it over two years with our greatest bard of Southern life: Rick Bragg. Rich with Lewis’s own words, framed by Bragg’s richly atmospheric narrative, , this is the last great untold rock-and-roll story, come to life on the page.'
From the book jacket: "From Harper Lee comes a landmark new novel set two decades after her beloved Pulitzer Prize–winning masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird.
Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch—"Scout"—returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise's homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town, and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past—a journey that can only be guided by one's own conscience.
Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of Harper Lee. Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom, humanity, passion, humor, and effortless precision—a profoundly affecting work of art that is both wonderfully evocative of another era and relevant to our own times. It not only confirms the enduring brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird, but also serves as its essential companion, adding depth, context, and new meaning to an American classic."