Essays — New, Recent, & Backlist Titles

By Mercer University Press

By Mercer University Press

Whaddaya Got, Loran?: Dispatches from Georgia

Loran Smith

$25.00 $23.00

Most Georgians know Loran Smith from Saturday afternoons and Georgia Bulldog football. Larry Munson would oftentimes say after a play, "Whaddaya got, Loran?" His colorful responses and chemistry with Munson made listening to the game an absolute joy. But, for decades Loran Smith has also either written or spoken about the things that interest us. Finally, in this book, Smith gathers his best columns and moments covering topics in four areas: Georgia, sports, travel, and the Greatest Generation.

Said-Songs: Essays on Poetry and Place

Jesse Graves

$20.00 $18.40

The essays collected in SAID-SONGS range from the personal to the scholarly and explore the hybrid territory in between, where a creative writer considers literary craft and how it influences the generative imagination. Jesse Graves examines the writings of the people and about the places that have most shaped his own poetry.

Life Lessons

Don Reid

$25.00 $23.00

LIFE LESSONS covers topics of the heart and mind, often with related stories from the Scriptures. Ninety concise and to-the-point chapters speak to everyday topics we all may experience on any given day from dawn to bedtime. Don Reid has taught a Sunday school class in his home church in Staunton, Virginia, for over three decades. In March of 2020, when the Covid pandemic began closing churches and keeping congregations close to home, he improvised an email lesson and sent it to each member of his Friendship Class on Saturday nights.

Freedom and Society: Essays on Autonomy, Identity, and Political Freedom

$35.00 $32.20

The idea for this volume arose from discussions at the February 2019 annual meeting of the Georgia Philosophical Society held at Mercer University on the theme of "Freedom and Society," and drafts of many of the chapters were first presented there. Including contributions from both early-career and well-known scholars, the chapters are tied together by questions about the nature of political freedom and autonomy in democratic societies and about the ways in which the enactment of democratic freedom depends on awareness of and engagement with freedom's underlying conditions.

Down by the Eno, Down by the Haw: A Wonder Almanac

Thorpe Moeckel


On foot and in a leaky canoe, award-winning poet and naturalist Thorpe Moeckel meanders for a year through the fragmented forests of the Eno and Haw watersheds. He seeks the alive interiors of a world covered over in asphalt, seeks to shed its hard exterior and "wonder the woods." In doing so he makes a record both physical and numinous. His writing--lyrical and leapy with cellular, porous perceptiveness—invites readers to journey with him around every surprising bend and twisting turn of phrase.

The Burdens of Aeneas: A Son's Memoir of Duty and Love

James C. Abbot Jr


"When the bullets start flying, I hope the first one gets you." The man in the crosshairs was the author's father. It was an era of seismic social change in the American South. Four decades later, his son visited the National September 11 Museum. In a young firefighter's heroism on 9/11, the author glimpsed a truth about his father's lifelong devotion to duty, law, and justice. So he sat down and began writing him letters. THE BURDENS OF AENEAS is that series of letters—a fascinating collection of wide-ranging essays, invented conversations, reminiscences, interior monologues, and vivid descriptions of life in a vanishing America. Part memoir, part extended reflection on paternal duty and love, it breaks new ground in blending deeply personal writing with scholarly meditation on a masterwork of world literature, Virgil's AENEID.

A Man's World: Portraits

Steve Oney


A MAN'S WORLD is a collection of 20 profiles of fascinating men by author and magazine writer Steve Oney. Written over a 40-year period for publications including Esquire, Premiere, GQ, Time, Los Angeles, and The Atlanta Journal & Constitution Magazine, the stories bring to life the famous (Harrison Ford), the brilliant (Robert Penn Warren), the tortured (Gregg Allman), and the unknown (Chris Leon, a 20-year-old Marine Corps corporal killed in the Iraq war). Several of the articles are prize winners. “The Talented Mr. Raywood” won the City and Regional Magazine Association Award for best profile in an American city magazine. “Herschel Walker Doesn’t Tap Out” won the Chicago Headline Club’s Peter Lisagor Award for best magazine sports story. “Hollywood Fixer” won the Los Angeles Press Club Award for best magazine profile. “The Casualty of War” was a finalist for Columbia University’s National Magazine Award.

Lost Places: On Losing and Finding Home

Cathryn Hankla


Founded in fieldwork and reflection, LOST PLACES follows the author from small towns and rural landscapes, through a transitional city neighborhood, to the challenging construction of an urban renewal loft, as she struggles to renovate living spaces and transform relationships after an early divorce. In a voice droll and lyrical by turns, Hankla charts a path through enigmatic encounters with snakes and contemplations of Thomas Jefferson's problematic biography homes, underground and ancient cities, Star Trek, the contradictory nature of Appalachia, desire, our families, spiritual callings, and definitions of home.

A Second Blooming: Becoming the Women We Are Meant to Be

Susan Cushman


A SECOND BLOOMING is a collection of essays by twenty-one authors who are emerging from the chrysalis they built for their younger selves and transforming into the women they are meant to be. They are not all elders, but all have embraced the second half of their lives with a generative spirit. These women of all ages have made it over a wall to find their true selves. As Agatha Christie says of the second blooming, “…a whole new life has opened before you…. It is as if a fresh sap of ideas and thoughts was rising in you.”

Weathering: Poems and Recollections

David Havird


In WEATHERING: POEMS AND RECOLLECTIONS an aging poet greets a "phalanx" of memories and finds himself amid "an epic transmigration of echoes." At the heart of this collection of poetry and prose are three retrospective essays that narrate the adolescent poet's coming of age through encounters with such eminent elders as James Dickey, who was Havird's early mentor, Robert Lowell, and Archibald MacLeish. These prose memoirs also explore this poet's ambivalent relation to his native South and reveal the emergent cosmopolitan stance of his mature poetry.

Parade's End: Essays

Sam Pickering


The author is a meanderer, and PARADE'S END celebrates the passing drift of days and the quiet miracles of living. Trees bud, snow falls, and Christmas blooms green and red with joy and happiness. As Time passes, acquaintances vanish. In these essays the author cruises the Adriatic and the Caribbean, he summers on a farm in Nova Scotia, receives an honorary degree in Tennessee, and roams the fields and woods of Eastern Connecticut. During his travels he meets many improbable people, most of whom exist. However, he follows the advice of Oscar Wilde and does not degrade truth into facts.

Bartram's Living Legacy: The Travels and the Nature of the South

William Bartram


In this unique anthology, for the first time Bartram's Travels is joined with essays acknowledging the debt Southern nature writers owe the man called the “South’s Thoreau.” We hope this book will introduce a new generation of environmentally minded Southerners to Bartram’s timeless work, not only standing on its own but also interpreted through passionate, personal essays by some of the region’s finest nature writers. Rather than wallowing in nostalgia for the long-gone world Bartram describes, this anthology provides us with a starting point for reconstructing and reclaiming the natural heritage of the South.

Appointed Rounds: Essays

Michael McFee


Michael McFee’s book takes its title from the unofficial motto of the US Postal Service: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” All of us have appointed rounds in our lives—essential things we are given to do and must try to complete, whatever the inner or outer weather, whenever the time of day or night, however we may approach those duties. This lively and wide-ranging collection of fifty essays—many of them pointed, a page or so, addresses McFee’s appointed rounds, subjects he has been thinking and caring about for decades.

Tales from Georgia's Gnat Line: Essays

Larry Walker


TALES FROM GEORGIA'S GNAT LINE is about the South—the Deep South; Larry Walker’s part of the world. It’s about good people, and some not so good. It’s about a part of the United States that was, and is, somewhat different from the rest. And it’s about cotton, because in many ways cotton caused Southerners to do some of the things that otherwise good people would not have done. It’s never been easy to be a Southerner, black or white. This book is about the South of the past, the present, and, if read carefully, of the future.

This Gladdening Light: An Ecology of Fatherhood and Faith

Christopher Martin


Part memoir, part essay collection, part spiritual journal, THIS GLADDENING LIGHT offers a unique perspective on the interconnectedness of universal themes—doubt and devotion, childhood and parenthood, disconnection and ecological mindfulness, anguish and empathy—all told at the level of the ground. This nonfiction debut from Christopher Martin is, ultimately, a work of belonging. Through narrative prose that moves between a rain-soaked Appalachian cove, Thoreau’s hut site at Walden Pond, hospital rooms in Atlanta and Cherokee County, Civil War battlefields crossed by highways, and the suburbanized, ore-red hills of Northwest Georgia, Martin paints a spirituality of the ordinary, of the creaturely world.

Startled at the Big Sound: Essays Personal, Literary, and Cultural

Stephen Corey


STARTLED AT THE BIG SOUND: ESSAYS PERSONAL, LITERARY, AND CULTURAL is the first prose collection by Stephen Corey, a widely published poet (with ten collections in all) and one of the country’s most highly regarded literary editors, who cofounded The Devil’s Millhopper in 1977 and has worked with The Georgia Review since 1983. These essays, written across three decades, variously describe, analyze, and meditate upon his concurrent lives as family member, publishing writer, editor for a major literary journal, and cultural-political observer of the broader world within which he has lived while experiencing his smaller realms.

South of the Etowah: The View from the Wrong Side of the River

Raymond L. Atkins


Novelist Raymond L. Atkins offers a lighthearted change of pace in this collection of humorous essays. He explores a diverse range of topics as seen from the porch of his home on the southern bank of the mighty Etowah River in northern Georgia. From this lofty height he holds forth on holidays, parenthood, cars, home ownership, aging, travel, medicine, technology, ballet, movies, marriage, Shakespeare, dogs, cats, music, swimming pools, vintage television, nicknames, amusement parks, restaurants, school projects, language, computers, hair, bad jobs, William Faulkner, weddings, advertising, Broadway plays, yard work, hospitals, cooking, Elvis Presley, moving, money, art, college, dinner theater, and a variety of other subjects.

Wondering Toward Center

Kathy A. Bradley


In her second book of essays, Kathy Bradley continues her examination of the natural world as a prism through which to understand the human experience. With her family farm in the coastal plains of South Georgia serving as the anchor, Bradley uses her observations of animal life, agriculture, and the seasons to create what others have called parables, but what she calls “a map key or decoder ring” for some of the dilemmas of twenty-first-century life. The chronological stories, four years’ worth of tales that began life as newspaper columns, are inhabited by wild and unpredictable animals, civilized and unpredictable people, moons and cornfields, tides and floods and droughts—each described in sensory detail, each a metaphor rich in meaning.

Watershed Days: Adventures (a Little Thorny & Familiar) in the Home Range

Thorpe Moeckel


These twenty-four adventures are woven into a subtle, cohesive whole, providing a textured portrait of a young man, his family, and their evolving intimacy and distance with each other and the natural world, the 18-acre homestead to which they have just moved and started working, as well as the woods and rivers of Virginia’s Jefferson National Forest just down Arcadia Road.

Reading Life: On Books, Memory, and Travel

Michael Pearson


A unique blend of memoir, literary appreciation, and travel narrative, Reading Life is a series of interrelated essays tracking the relationship between books and experience, dramatizing and reflecting on how stories lead us into the world, and how we transform that engagement with the world back into personal narrative.

Half of What I Say Is Meaningless: Essays

Joseph Bathanti


HALF OF WHAT I SAY IS MEANINGLESS is a series of memoirs, set by turns in Joseph Bathanti’s hometown of Pittsburgh as well as in his ultimate home in North Carolina where he landed in 1976 as a VISTA Volunteer assigned to the North Carolina Department of Correction. Though these essays are not queued chronologically, they form a seamless chronicle of contemplation on the indelible stamp of home, family, ancestry, and spirituality, regardless of locale.

The Splendour Falls: Essays

Samuel Pickering


For three decades Sam Pickering has written essays, his words rolling in a fine frenzy over ordinary life discovering the marvelous and the absurd. His curiosity ranges, but it also rumpuses and rollicks. He wanders the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee, rural Connecticut, farmland in Nova Scotia, and islands in the sun. Strangers tell him their life stories—tales that are almost as odd as the fictional characters he meets.

Memory's Mist: The View from the Journey

Jackie K. Cooper


MEMEORY'S MIST is a collection of personal essays about life in the South as seen through the eyes of author Jackie K. Cooper. The stories contained hold up a mirror upon which the shared traits and experiences of life can be seen. Some of the experiences shared are humorous, some are sad, some are dramatic, and some are life affirming. Through them all runs a ribbon of hope and optimism.

Begin with Rock, End with Water: Essays

John Lane


This is John Lane’s third collection of essays. In this gathering of narratives Lane pushes even deeper into a twenty-year lyrical consideration of his place (and the place of all of us) in the changing natural world.

The Letters of Austin Warren


THE LETTERS OF AUSTIN WARREN enables a reader to perceive what epistolary art signifies, and to appreciate the rehabilitative powers and possibilities of communication and connection that it generates. A reader who enters into this unique epistolary community will find there a rich and incessant flow of ideas, seriously and strenuously deliberated, as well as to hear conversations that are vigorous, dignified, and sapient in tone and content. One who pores over these letters will take an intimate part in the works and days of Austin Warren, Man of Letters and Epistolary Artist.

Breathing and Walking Around: Meditations on a Life

Kathy A. Bradley


BREATHING AND WALKING AROUND is not a memoir. It is a record of four years’ worth of observations of common people, everyday events, and the natural world made by Kathy Bradley from her home in the coastal plains of South Georgia. A lawyer by training, a storyteller by nature, she shares with precision and layer upon layer of sensory image simple tales that emerge, in the end, as parables.


Henry David Thoreau


One of the most beloved books in American literature, Walden is must reading for any American or anyone interested in reading great literature. But for those who go there looking for reasons Thoreau became a recluse they are sure to be disappointed. Instead, reading Walden is more of a journey to the self and how that self can live in the world. This new edition has an insightful and lyrical essay introducing the text by Sam Pickering, the inspiration for the Dead Poets Society. His essay is the most provocative piece on Walden since E. B. White.

In the Morning: Reflections from First Light

Philip Lee Williams


Morning is a part of everyone’s life. But relatively little has been written directly about morning itself because it is a background rather than a major theme. In his new book of creative nature non-fiction, author Philip Lee Williams takes us on a journey that is scientific, artistic, and very personal.