We returned to the hills this weekend, to Lafayette County, for the wedding of friends and fellow booksellers Cody Morrison and Katie Snodgrass of Square Books in Oxford. You know they're good book people by all the writers who attended.
It was great to catch up with old friends, and then we found ourselves the next day with good Delta folks in Taylor, Mississippi, at the home of Jane Rule Burdine. Jane Rule is one of our favorite people, and certainly one of the best photographers at work today. If you're not familiar with her work, it's because she's so shy and modest. Rarely does she show her work in public, but she'll often show to glad souls who pay her a visit. It takes but a moment to become mesmerized by her work. Her view of the Delta's landscape, architecture and people capture the unique spirit of the place — the contradictions, the strange beauty, and the overwhelming sense of history that hovers just below the surface of everything.
Lucky for us all, curator Wendy McDaris has helped Jane Rule put together a stunning collection from her 30-year career, which the University Press of Mississippi will publish this fall. Jane Rule and Wendy showed us proofs of the book, Delta Deep Down, and we're convinced this is THE art book to have this year. The collection is brilliantly arranged and prefaced with an excellent and insightful introduction by Delta native Steve Yarbrough. But it's the power of Jane Rule's photos that will make this book, like its subject, a timeless work, captivating the imagination of all who peek inside.
Fortuitously, we were joined at Jane Rule's by our friend Martha Foose, who lives here in Greenwood and also on a catfish farm just above Yazoo City. Martha is Delta deep down herself, and happened to have the finished copy of her new cookbook, Screen Doors and Sweet Tea, which comes out at the end of April. If you've been to the Viking Cooking School, you may have had the pleasure of serving under Martha's tutelage. Her gifts as a chef and a storyteller culminate in this wonderful book, which raises Delta cuisine to a high art. Strange, funny, beautiful and delicious, this is THE book on Delta food.
We love these ladies and their creativity so much we'll be pulling out the stops for their book release parties. Martha will be here May 1 to sign, and Jane Rule will be here September 11. Mark your calendars, steam your party duds, and order up.