Frye Gaillard is writer-in-residence at the University of South Alabama and author of more than 20 books, including "Cradle of Freedom: Alabama and the Movement That Changed America," winner of the Lillian Smith Award; and "Watermelon Wine," recently reissued by NewSouth Books. Gaillard previously worked at Vanderbilt University in Nashville and has made a career writing about the South. He received the Clarence Cason Award for Non-Fiction and the Alabama Library Association Book of the Year Award.
His latest work, “The Books That Mattered: A Reader’s Memoir,” is a series of carefully crafted -- often deeply personal -- essays, blending memoir, history and critical analysis to explore the works of many influential authors. Gaillard’s first encounters with books were disappointing, but at the age of nine, he discovered "Johnny Tremain," a children’s novel of the Revolutionary War, which began a lifetime love affair with books, recounted here as a reader’s tribute to the writings that enriched and altered his life.
Authors featured in the book include Mark Twain, Harper Lee, Carson McCullers, Eudora Welty, Lillian Smith, James Baldwin, Larry L. King, Jacobo Timerman, Elie Wiesel, Anne Frank, Kurt Vonnegut, James Herriott, Dori Sanders, Robert Penn Warren, John Steinbeck, Dee Brown, Alex Haley, Rick Bragg, Pat Conroy, Sena Jeter Naslund, Annie Proulx, Laura Hillenbrand, Geraldine Brooks and William Styron.
“There is so much thinking, so much beautiful language, so much heart in these essays,” said Director of the Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts and Humanities Jay Lamar. Reading “The Books that Mattered: A Reader’s Memoir” will make you study your own shelves to find clues into your own literary heart.