Nothing will cheer the heart of a writer like a grand review of a published book. Today when I read my messages, this one was first and it blessed me in a way that is hard to explain. So I'll let you read it.
Jimmy Giles is as delightful as his smile. And Clarksdale, Mississippi is proud and blessed to boast that he is at the heart of this Delta town in many ways. He runs the tourism center, which is prominently located in the Old Greyhound Bus Station, a significant landmark in historic downtown Clarksdale. And something else just as significant ... Jimmy is a graduate of our dear old CHS (Clarksdale High School) well ... maybe a few years before me, and it was not until this summer that I met him for the first time. In fact, he was responsible for my very successful book signing in Clarksdale (at the Bus Station) on the same day as the Sunflower River Blues Festival! I'll never forget it!
If I could vote right now, you would be the 2013 Pulitzer winner. The Mississippi Boys is magnificent! I love the way you write and this one is in the top five of my favorite books, EVER! It has been a long, long time since I've read a book that has touched me like this one.
The history of The "War of Northern Aggression," as I like to call it when talking to Yankees, as you told it left me with all my pride showing both from the point of how the South, with its lack of material and manpower to place on the field of battle, acquitted themselves, and how our Mississippians showed what they were made of as well. But the death of Stonewall touched me deeply even though I was familiar with how he left us and it was no surprise, I still suffered some anxiety when I read how you described it. The last time I felt that way about a public official was when President Roosevelt died very close to my birthday on April 12, 1945.
The greatest feelings I had came from the way you made me feel like a member of the Payne family or at least a dear friend and when we lost Ben, I could hardly believe it. I felt great joy when you brought Cassie into the family and read that part with great happiness because we have a family friend whose daughter is named Cassie and each time I read her name I saw our Cassie. I almost cried when Thomas and Henry were killed in battle and even worse when I thought Jonathan had been killed, but felt so good when I found that it was a head wound from which he would recover. I always thought from the day he laid eyes on Cassie that he would one day be her husband … that was a nice twist even though we had to lose her husband in battle.
Thank you, also, for making Isaac come home when he was so young and ran away to "join up." I knew he'd make it 'cause you wrote a book about his house … that's cheating, I know, but I have the book on my book shelf and every time I'd replace The Mississippi Boys, it would slide in next to Isaac's House, which is my next Gaddy read.
How can we discuss this marvelous writing without commenting on what a commanding person Rachel is? I would have to say she pretty well led the Payne family and was their mainstay in all meanings of the word. Reminded me of what you must mean to your family.
Thank you for writing that book for us and I hope everyone on both sides of the battle lines will read this one.
Also, anyone reading it without emotion needs to have some mental tests performed on them, 'cause surely "they ain't all there"!
Again, my thanks for not only writing this magnificent piece of literature, but also for being my newest Literary Friend. I'd say you just passed Thomas Harris in that regard.
Jane Bennett Gaddy