tidbits, fragments, and ephemera 25

tidbits, fragments, and ephemera is a usually weekly but not always, sometimes substantial but not making any promises glimpse at some information and news related to Generation X in the Deep South.


Former South Carolina governor and Trump UN ambassador Nikki Haley born, 1972

Fifty years ago this month, “Nimrata Nikki Randhawa Haley, better known as Nikki Haley, was born on January 20, 1972, in Bamberg, South Carolina, to Sikh immigrants from Punjab, India. She attended local schools and graduated from Clemson University with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting.” Haley was elected governor of South Carolina in 2011. She was the state’s first female governor and the nation’s second Indian-American governor, after Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal.

“Cold Sunday” in the South, 1982

Forty years ago this week, on January 17, an unusually bitter cold front came down from Canada and made it all the way to the Gulf. That day, Jackson, Mississippi went down to -5° F, and Birmingham, Alabama went to -2° F.

The Alabama Forum newspaper, 1977 – 2002

description: “The Alabama Forum, published in Birmingham from 1977 to 2002 under editor June Holloway, was one of the longest-running news sources for the LBGTQ community in the state of Alabama. This digital collection consists of 245 issues, published from 1981 to 2002 and totaling more than 4,500 pages. [ . . . ] It was a repository of local and national news related to contemporary LGBTQ issues and an important venue for publicizing events of interest to the community. It also gave space to advertisers and, especially early on, provided a much-needed directory of friendly organizations and businesses. The publication enabled readers to share their thoughts and experiences in guest editorials, letters to the editor, and creative pieces, and to make connections via classified and personal ads.”


level:deepsouth is an online anthology about growing up Generation X in the Deep South during the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s. The anthology is open to submissions of creative nonfiction (essays, memoirs, and reviews) and images (photos and flyers), as well as to contributions for the lists.

the recent death of Anne Rice

For many GenXers, Anne Rice’s books were a staple of the reading diet. Perhaps the most well-known, Interview with a Vampire was published in 1976, but became even more popular when coupled with 1985’s The Vampire Lestat. It didn’t hurt any that the 1994 film adaptation of Interview with a Vampire starred Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise, who were at the peak of their fame. It also didn’t hurt that those mass market paperback reprints, like the copy seen here, were accessible and affordable. (Of course, the 2002 adaptation of 1988’s Queen of the Damned garnered a little more attention to the series, but it came at the end of The Vampire Chronicles’ heyday.)

Anne Rice was born in 1941 in New Orleans and was heavily identified with her hometown. She had left New Orleans in 2004 and moved to California, where she died on December 11, 2021.

During the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s, Rice wrote and published the quite a few novels, including Tale of the Body Thief (1992), Memnoch the Devil (1995), and The Vampire Armand (1998) in the Vampire Chronicles series, and the Sleeping Beauty series, which came out under the pseudonym AN Roquelaure.

Despite her prolific output and substantial popularity, though, Rice was often regarded as an author of popular fiction, not as a serious novelist. In December 1985, the Clarion-Ledger‘s book columnist Jim Scafidel described The Vampire Lestat as “an off-beat interview with a down-beat vampire.” Yet, the following month, a feature article in the Hattiesburg American ended on this positive note:

Rice brings into the open our deep-rooted suspicions that there may be more to the vampire legend than what Bela Lugosi has led us to believe.

tidbits, fragments, and ephemera 22: the John Grisham edition

tidbits, fragments, and ephemera is a usually weekly but not always, sometimes substantial but not making any promises glimpse at some information and news related to Generation X in the Deep South.


In the 1990s, books and movies by Mississippi lawyer-legislator turned novelist John Grisham were ubiquitous to the point of being unavoidable. His success probably began with the 1993 film adaptation of The Firm, which was followed by a steady stream of Hollywood adaptations starring recognizable actors. Some were pure legal thrillers, while others dealt with unresolved issues in the culture of the post-Civil Rights South.

A Time to Kill (1989) and the movie (1996)

Grisham’s first novel, admittedly rejected by several publishers before its acceptance by a small press, tells the story of a black man in a small town in Mississippi who kills the two white men who’ve raped his ten-year-old daughter. This time, we’ve got Mathew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock, and Samuel L. Jackson.

The Firm (1991) and the movie (1993)

The far-more-successful second novel was picked up by New York publishing house Doubleday and made into a movie that stars Tom Cruise. The story this time is about a young lawyer who joins the dream law firm, only to find out that there’s an insidious underbelly to its façade.

The Pelican Brief (1992) and the movie (1993)

By this time, the author was showing how prolific he could be. The film versions stars Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington.

The Client (1993), the movie (1994), and the TV series (1995–1996)

And the hits kept on rolling. This time, the star is Susan Sarandon, and she’s protecting a boy who witnessed a mob death.

The Chamber (1994) and the movie (1996)

In the movie, Gene Hackman plays an elderly Ku Kluxer on death row for a 1967 bombing, and Chris O’Donnell plays his grandson, who is a liberal lawyer from Chicago. The story has the younger man trying to make sense of who his stolid, gruff grandfather is. Although the blog Screenrant called this the worst of the John Grisham movies, I kind of liked it.

The Rainmaker (1995) and the movie (1997)

Not to be confused with the play that was made into a Burt Lancaster movie, this novel and its adaptation have us once again following a young lawyer. This time, the main character is in Memphis, fighting an insurance corporation for denying a policyholder who deserved treatment for their son’s cancer. The movie stars Matt Damon.

The Runaway Jury (1996) and the movie (2003)

This was kind of the last one in the string, and its movie came along a few years later. Grisham’s novels continue to sell, of course, but the annual movie thing had fizzled. This early 21st-century adaptation stars John Cusack, who had left his ’80s nerd archetype behind and become the quasi-action star we saw in late-’90s films like Grosse Pointe Blank and Con Air.

Other novels from the late 1990s that were not made into theatrical-release movies were The Partner (1997), The Street Lawyer (1998), and The Testament (1999). However, one of Grisham’s “discarded” stories was made into the movie The Gingerbread Man (1998), and The Street Lawyer became a made-for-TV movie in 2003.


level:deepsouth is an online anthology about growing up Generation X in the Deep South during the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s. The anthology is open to submissions of creative nonfiction (essays, memoirs, and reviews) and images (photos and flyers), as well as to contributions for the lists.