The Statue and the Fury A Year of Art, Race, Music and Cocktails
In The Statue and the Fury, Jim Dees, host of the public radio program Thacker Mountain Radio, chronicles a tumultuous year in the life of a small Southern town, complete with down-home eccentrics, famous figures, and explosive events. In 1997, Oxford, Mississippi, sought to erect a statue to honor the one hundredth birthday of native Nobel laureate, William Faulkner. After a magnolia tree at City Hall was cut down to make room for the sculpture, all Faulkner broke loose. Fiery city board meetings erupted, angry threats came from the feisty Faulkner family, and civic tension ensued, leaving a bewildered artist, sculptor Bill Beckwith, caught in the middle. Dees covered the city beat as a reporter for the local daily, the Oxford Eagle. At age forty, he was the newbie, a cub reporter at 'the first job I'd ever had where I was older than my boss.' Dees brings the small-town newsroom to life, including the vile coffee, deadline duress, cubicle psychosis, and drudging daily obituary duty. Dees brings the wit and insight his radio listeners enjoy to the page in writing about his town's wacky and pivotal events. The book includes interviews with civil rights pioneers James Meredith and Myrlie Evers; late authors Shelby Foote and Willie Morris; a foggy encounter with legendary singer Willie Nelson; and a sweaty face-off with the late James Brown, the Godfather of Soul. All of this, and much more, made 1997 a wild year in Oxford, Mississippi, and now it's a wild, insightful, and hilarious book.