Thursday, May 05, 2005

Lagniappe: Wolf Whistle

I have been thinking for about a year about the 50th anniversary of the murder of Emmett Till, and now read that his body will be exhumed in Chicago for an autopsy. Till was the black teenager who allegedly whistled at a white woman in Money, MS in August 1955 while visiting, and was dragged from his bed and brutally murdered. His mother insisted on an open casket at the funeral, so the world could see what had been done to her son.

I teach about Emmett Till in my undergraduate class, and have been thinking of a hook for this August, for writing, or teaching, or both. My wife just told me that she read an interview with Shannon Ravenel, founding co-editor of Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, and someone we avidly followed especially when we were living in NC and part of its burgeoning literary scene.

Ravenel spoke about how certain authors do not get their due (I suppose because of the tsunami of attention paid to the Da Vinci Code and such). She said that Lewis Nordan's Wolf Whistle, about the murder of Emmett Till, was her favorite novel, and that Nordan was not more recognized. There is my hook...I just ordered Nordan's book and plan to review it here and see what else I can do for August.

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