Mississippi Hill Country.
Photographs by Gloria Norris. Introduction by Rick Bass.
University Press Of Mississippi, Jackson, 2009. 112 pp., 92 color illustrations, 10½x9½".
From the blue suede intonations of Elvis's Graceland in Memphis to the columnar austerity of mansions along State Street in Jackson, Highway 51 flows, an artery of commerce, music, and literary interchange.
Highway 51 is the first photography book to focus on this storied route through Mississippi hill country, a defining but often overlooked region of the state. In ninety color photographs Gloria Norris captures the landmarks, the beautiful and rugged scenery, the people, and their unforgettable music. Her images serve as a confirmation of tradition in this part of Mississippi and as a reminder of what has changed forever.
This road connects William Faulkner's fierce hill counties and Eudora Welty's resonant terrains, Elvis's hip-shaking boogies and R. L. Burnside's hypnotically grinding blues. Highway 51 depicts a natural world sometimes swept by violent tornadoes and rainstorms but dominated by rolling, green landscapes and a society that still lives close to the soil. In Norris's photographs, people and places reveal the many contradictions of life along this much-traveled path. With an introduction by Rick Bass, this volume offers a vision of a distinctive culture and setting that until now has been little documented.
Gloria Norris's photographs are in the permanent collection of the Mississippi Museum of Art and many private collections. Her short stories set in Mississippi hill country have appeared in three O. Henry Short Story Awards annuals, and her novel, Looking for Bobby, was set partly in this area. She served as editor-in-chief of the Book of the Month Club for many years. Rick Bass is the author of over twenty books, including essay collections, short story collections, novellas, and novels.
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