AE Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - September - 2006 Issue

Literature from the William Reese Company

Clarac

Twain's daughter/biographer Clara Clemens at her father's bust. Courtesy Cleveland S. U. Library.


Their greatest find was Mr. Ledbetter, who by then had picked up the sobriquet "Leadbelly," both a play on his name and a reference to his toughness. The Lomaxes would take him to New York, where he would begin a recording career which, while never making him rich, enabled him to cultivate a large following. Unfortunately, as his career began to grow, Leadbelly came down with Lou Gehrig's disease. He died in 1949. However, his songs, mostly Leadbelly's interpretations of older, sometimes forgotten folk songs, have been recorded by everyone from the Weavers, Johnny Cash and Gene Autry, to the Rolling Stones and Nirvana. They are like a who's who of American music: Goodnight Irene, Midnight Special, House of the Rising Sun, Cotton Fields and Black Betty. Item 8 is the Lomax's 1936 book, Negro Songs as Sung by Lead Belly "King of the Twelve String Guitar Players of the World," Long-time Convict in the Penitentiaries of Texas and Louisiana. $250.

It is poetry filled with passion, anger, even hatred, and eventually, despair. It is the poetry of the Confederate South, anger, followed by steadfastness, followed by hopelessness. Sentiments of never giving in are replaced by reality. Many of the poems extol the virtues of freedom, of free Southerners defending themselves to the death from enslavement by the North. They never saw the irony in it. Editor William Gilmore Simms put together a collection of poetry from the Confederate South, written from 1860-1865, and published it a year after the war ended. In his preface Simms notes that while it was poetry of the Confederacy, it now belongs to the entire nation, as part of its history. These poems offer a rare look at the mindset of those who sought to break the Union, though the juxtaposition of the honor, freedom and morality of which they spoke, with the terrible inhumanity they sought to impress on others, is hard for those not born into it to understand. This intriguing look at the Old South is entitled War Poetry of the South. Item 649. $225.

I don't know this book by Robert Peck, but I like the title: A Day No Pigs Would Die. Must have been a tough day at Hormel. Item 569. $65. Or how about John Cheever's The Day the Pig Fell into the Well. Hopefully he did so on a day no pigs would die as that sounds very dangerous. Item 144. $250.

Finally, some real literature: Star Trek Voyage One "The Cage." Actually, this was just an imaginary voyage (unlike the others). It was a pilot script for an episode that never aired. This script was created in 1964, two years before the first episode was broadcast. The Cage never was filmed, though the plot line was incorporated into a later episode. Item 659 is a mimeographed typescript of this phantom voyage. $200.

The William Reese Company is found online at www.reeseco.com,
phone number 203-789-8081.

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