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Crash Course

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Howard Bahr made a name for himself as the author of three Civil War novels — two of them (The Black Flower and The Year of Jubilo) named by The New York Times as Notable Books of the Year.

Bahr's latest novel, Pelican Road (MacAdam/Cage), is another war novel, of sorts: It takes readers back to World War I; and it takes readers, on the eve of another world war, down Pelican Road, a stretch of railroad linking Meridian, Mississippi, and New Orleans. The year is 1940. It's Christmas Eve. And two trains — one heading south; the other, north — are making a run for it. Make that a run-in. That's the book's climactic scene, but it's life as lived by the trains' crew members on and off the rails that is Bahr's true xsubject.

Bahr knows the subject well. He once worked as a brakeman and clerk for the Southern Railway and the Illinois Central. He knows the South too. A native of Meridian, he attended and taught at Ole Miss, where he also served as curator at Faulkner's home, Rowan Oak. Today, he teaches at Belhaven College in Jackson, Mississippi, but on Thursday, May 29th, he'll be at Davis-Kidd Booksellers signing copies of Pelican Road.

Welcome him. In a recent interview, he named two of his favorite towns: One is New Orleans and the other, just up the road, is Memphis, Tennessee.

Howard Bahr signing "Pelican Road," at Davis-Kidd Booksellers, Thursday, May 29th, 6 p.m.

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