Mozart and Leadbelly
By Ernest J. Gaines
(Vintage, Paperback, 9781400096459, 192pp.)
Publication Date: October 17, 2006
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In this collection of stories and essays, the beloved author of the classic, best-selling novel A Lesson Before Dying shares the inspirations behind his books and his reasons for becoming a writer. Told in the simple and powerful prose that is a hallmark of his craft, these writings by Ernest J. Gaines faithfully evoke the sorrows and joys of rustic Southern life. From his depiction of his childhood move to California — a move that propelled him to find books that conjured the sights, smells, and locution of his native Louisiana home — to his description of the real-life murder case that gave him the idea for his masterpiece, this wonderful collection is a revelation of both man and writer.
Ernest Gaines was born on a plantation in Pointe Coupee Parish near New Roads, Louisiana, which is the Bayonne of all his fictional works. He is writer-in-residence emeritus at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. In 1993 Gaines received the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship for his lifetime achievements. In 1996 he was named a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, one of France’s highest decorations. He and his wife, Dianne, live in Oscar, Louisiana.
Ernest Gaines’s A Lesson Before Dying, A Gathering of Old Men, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, Bloodline, and Of Love and Dust are available in Vintage paperback.
“Gaines is one of the nation’s most important and prolific living writers and the greatest American writer of his generation to emerge from the South since William Faulkner.” –The Atlanta Journal Constitution
“No one writes about mainstream, ordinary black life as well as Gaines does.” –Ishmael Reed
“Gaines reveals the constant doubts accompanying the artist’s quest — as well as the spirit spurring him forward.” –The Christian Science Monitor
“Words, wondrous and glorious words, burst from Ernest J. Gaines’s heart and pen, describing the events and experiences that led to the publication of his renowned novels. . . . By the end, we feel as if we really know this Louisiana-loving, boundary-breaking author.” –Southern Living