Curtis Wilkie, whose newspaper career spanned nearly four decades before he joined the journalism faculty and became an Overby Fellow at the University of Mississippi, will appear at his campus habitat, the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics, at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 30, to talk about a new collection of his stories with another Mississippi journalist, his friend Charles Overby.
Wilkie’s book, “Assassins, Eccentrics, Politicians and Other Persons of Interest: Fifty Pieces from the Road,” was published this month by University Press of Mississippi. A week after the anthology became available it was listed as the second best-selling book in the state by the Clarion-Ledger.
Overby, the chairman of the university’s center, led the Clarion-Ledger to a Pulitzer Prize in 1983 when he was executive editor of the newspaper. He will conduct a conversation with Wilkie about the craft of writing and the wealth of Mississippi stories which appear in the book.
The event is free and open to the public. Arrangements have been made with university officials to provide free parking for guests in a lot adjacent to the Overby Center.
A 1963 graduate of Ole Miss, Wilkie’s first job was at the Clarksdale Press Register when a “local story” – the civil rights movement – grew into the biggest story in the nation. He spent most of his career as a national and foreign correspondent for the Boston Globe, covering eight presidential campaigns, serving as chief of the Globe’s Middle East bureau in Jerusalem in the mid-1980s and reporting on stories from more than fifty countries. But many of Wilkie’s most memorable articles were set in the South and are included in the book.
The collection contains accounts of Martin Luther King’s last days in the Delta, the trials and convictions of two Mississippi assassins of other civil rights leaders, and the rise of Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Trent Lott — as well as profiles of colorful figures from the “Gonzo” writer Hunter S. Thompson to the PLO military leader Abu Jihad.
Writing in the Oxford Eagle earlier this month, editor Don Whitten said the stories “still appear as fresh as the day they appeared.” In a review in the Clarion-Ledger, Sid Salter called the book “one hell of an entertaining read” and said “it is in Wilkie’s nuanced, compelling and enlightening storytelling that the worth of this book is revealed.”
Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics
555 Grove Loop, Suite 247
University, MS 38677