Paul Yarbrough's critically-acclaimed debut novel, MISSISSIPPI COTTON, brings to light the complex history of rural Mississippi in the 1950’s.
It is 1951. Young Jake Conner gets on a bus to visit his cousins in the Mississippi Delta. But when the body of an unknown man is found in the Mississippi River, Jake's summer vacation gets a little more adventurous as he and his cousins snoop around in a mystery that is better left to the grown ups.
"First time novelist, Paul H. Yarbrough, masterfully transports readers deep into the world of Mississippi Cotton, where life is not as simple as it seems." ~Julie Cantrell, editor, Southern Literary Review and bestselling author of Into the Free
"In Mississippi Cotton a 20th Century Huck Finn has a real adventure. No matter that his raft is a Trailways Bus along the river, the trip is no less toward maturity. If you like a good story, this is your book, a book told by someone who knows the terrain--its history, people, landscape and culture. Only a proper native could have his narrator say that his daddy taught him never to hold onto anything with Lincoln's face longer than you had to." ~Dr. James Everett Kibler, author, Walking Toward Home, Memories Keep, and Our Father's Fields
"Set in 1951, in the fictional Delta town of Cotton City, the story is more broadly a Southern story...an agrarian story. It is also a murder mystery. The body of an unknown man is found in the river at the Greenville Bridge. Jake's bus ride visit to his Delta cousins begins a parallel journey that ends in the discovery of the dead mans identity." ~Noel Workman, Delta Magazine
From MISSISSIPPI COTTON:
"Earl put his brown hat in the chair next to him. In his work clothes, he looked tanned and strong—a real cotton farmer. His blue cotton shirt sleeves rolled up revealed big hairy forearms, with hard-looking muscle that came from farm work. He had a gentle way about him, but a mannerism that made you know he was definitely no softy. One of his big hands swept around the cup, not using the crook, and took a big swallow. Black. No sissy coffee for Earl Hightower."
A Mississippi Whisper
Ten-year-old Charlie McCoy and his friends are curious about the fire up at the abandoned house on the outskirts of town. Since the grown-ups aren’t saying much, with anything really interesting spoken in shushed tones, the boys may need to do a little digging on their own. Meanwhile, they avoid the specter of school looming in their immediate futures with playing ball, fishing, and discussing which business to start: junk collecting or selling rabbit tobacco.
Even more than the mysterious fire, Charlie is intrigued by Jackie Robinson, the first black baseball player in the major leagues. And by the new magazine his older brother keeps talking about, and what their mother would tell that Hugh Hefner if she weren’t such a lady.
While Charlie’s hometown of Jackson is slowly changing around him, with Eisenhower’s highway coming through to transform the face of the land, Charlie and his people hold on tight to their agrarian roots.
And at the end of the day, his older sister Katy Jean is always there with a smile to listen to his ideas and opinions, even if she doesn’t say a lot and mostly speaks in whispers.
Thy Brother's Blood
Louisiana’s rich history weaves throughout the lives of the McKinzie brothers, Travis and Forrest. Their great grandpa McKinzie left his Louisiana sugar cane plantation to fight and die in the War Between the States. When the war ended, reconstruction, taxes and floods whittled the three-thousand-acre family farm down to almost nothing.
After the mysterious drowning of their daddy and younger brother in the swamp, the two boys turn to their remaining father figures, Paw Paw and the Judge. Now, with the onset of economic depression, Travis and Forrest McKinzie struggle to maintain what's left of their land and their culture as the industrialized world encroaches onto their agrarian roots.
Covering three generations of the McKinzie family, amidst conflict over civil rights, land usage and foreign wars that take the best of Southern blood, Travis and Forrest cling to their rich heritage as it is stripped from them.
The brothers are people of the land; people who love the land; people who understand the land. And in opposition to outside control and corruption, they are willing to give their lives to the protection of their families and the continuation of their Southern culture.
The Yeller Rose of Texas
During the Korean War, a Texas family moves from the beaches of Galveston to the piney woods of East Texas around Tyler. Another family history from the distant past overlaps theirs; and just as roses have images in their colors, from the joy of the yellow rose to the darkness of the black rose, some families have varied colored chronicles —some joyful, some dark.Flowers have a function other than beauty, itself a gathering for arousing and providing emotional hygiene; much more than the natural splendor observed in rainbows. Blossoms, which lodge birds, breastfeed bees, and aid with their roots in keeping the soil from wandering in erosional exodus have such provisions in the resume of the mission of the immobile life forms.