Praise for Gerald Duff

Playing Custer


Stuart Rosebrook, True West Magazine

"... a must-read for anyone who is trying to keep up to date with Custer historiography--fact or fiction....Duff, an award-winning Texas author, who has published 19 books, has created a very Elizabethan/Broadwayesque novel that William Shakespeare and Cole Porter would enjoy..."


Steven Whitton, The Anniston Star

"'Playing Custer' is at times horrifying: Duff's re-creation of the actual Last Stand from many viewpoints can indeed by disturbing. The book, at the same time, can be deeply moving, especially as Libbie, Custer's widow, prepares to visit the wives who were widowed at the same time she was. It can also be wildly funny and unexpectedly affecting, as Waymon and Mirabeau leave the reenactment for other lives, having discovered that, according to Duff: 'It all depends on how you're turned and the final direction you decide to head.'"


Camille-Yvette Welsch, Foreward Reviews

"... Duff walks in the footsteps of Twain, with his understanding of the complexity and hypocrisy of military action, and side by side with Tony Horwitz (Confederates in the Attic), with his revelations about reenacting and the Civil War, adding new chapters to both.

For students of history as well as lovers of the novel, Duff delivers, piecing together historical record with the tenets of fiction—quick pacing, deft characterization, vivid scenes."


Memphis Mojo


Harold Raley, author of Louisiana Rouge

"There is no time to relax in this story; events morph into conflicts, then creises on several fronts and seemingly isolated pathways in the novel begin to converge unexpedctedly in a swelling suspense. Then comes the surprise ending..."


Texas Book Lover

"The best thing about Memphis Mojo is the dialogue. The dialogue! Ragsdale and Walker are like George and Gracie, Ralph and Alice, Lorelai and Rory Glimore. The dialogue between these two is intricate and seemless. The Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers of conversation."


Sounds Good

"When a book looks good, you just get into it....I'm just glad Duff is at it again."


Steve Whitton, The Anniston Star

"Over the course of 17 books, Gerald Duff has proven himself a Southern treasure. His novels and short stories are as remarkable as his poetry and memoirs. ... 'Memphis Mojo" begins in a local International House of Pancakes where a gang of four has gathered to discuss -- sometimes loudly -- all sorts of stuff, including their next caper. ... All of this comes together in brilliantly convoluted, wholly satisfying fashion. Pretentions are skewered while Memphis is celebrated in the wry, wicked and completely winning 'Memphis Mojo.' Duff's got just enough of the old mojo and that's a good thing, a real good thing."



DIRTY RICE: A Season in the Evangeline League


Roy Blount, author of Alphabetter Juice: The Joy of Text

“Native American plays the National Pastime right. What could go wrong? ... With wonderfully accurate detail, pitch-perfect dialogue, and a story that won’t let go, Duff shows exactly what can go wrong in the Evangeline Baseball League during the Great Depression. In Louisiana’s Hot Sauce League, some games get thrown, at times betting determines outcomes, but Gemar Batiste of the Alabama-Coushatta Nation plays to win and to keep his soul.”


Greg Guirard, Cajun author/photographer

“I am ready to believe that Gemar Batiste really existed, that he played and starred for the Rayne Rice Birds in 1935.  In fact, I would be disappointed to learn that it all never happened. I am also ready to believe that the author played in the Evangeline League, so accurate and authentic is his stance and delivery. There is nostalgia of the best sort in this book, as well as humor, sadness, and a generous serving of Native American philosophy.”


John Ed Bradley, author of It Never Rains in Tiger Stadium

"Gerald Duff's Native American hero, Gemar Batiste, is to baseball what Huck Finn was to the Mississippi River ... Dirty Rice is so vividly imagined that it often feels like an honest-to-god memoir, with its precise and unflinching evocation of place and its treatment of men both good and bad whose one true gift to the world was how they played the game."


Diane Gardner, ForeWord Magazine

"Beautifully written, Duff's novel will clearly appeal to sports fans. Yet those who aren't aficionados will discover a book that delves much deeper, one that may inspire a greater appreciation, even love, for the game of baseball. Dirty Rice is a character-driven story in which the drama of human life and of 1930s Louisiana culture become fascinating and entertaining studies on their own. And it will challenge any reader's own ability to stand firm in what they believe when no one else does. The book is a call for integrity, in sports and in life. For, as Duff reiterates, a lie "can stay hid for a good long time, but it has got to show itself in the end."


Steven Whitton, Professor of English at Jacksonville State University, for The Anniston Star

"It is a complicated journey Gerald Duff sends Gemar Batiste on; yet it is a journey not so different from those taken by characters in 'Fire Ants,' his haunting collection of short stories, or the journey he describes himself taking in 'Home Truths,' his recent memoir. In a voice worthy of the best in Southern fiction, Duff makes 'Dirty Rice' an exhilarating and wry celebration of the American baseball mythos and an equally fascinating riff on modern sports: 'It's all show business.'"


Rod Davis, author of Corina's Way, winner of tghe 2005 PEN/Southwest Award for Fiction, for Plaza de Armas

"I was telling a friend she would like Dirty Rice: A Season in the Evangeline League, because although the putative subject is minor-league baseball, the roux that holds it together is the evocation of a rare, rural, half-forgotten Louisiana. In fact, Gerald Duff's new novel is about something else altogether: the purity of artistic expression. ... Who but a bayou Fellini would find sustanance, meaning, in such a world?"


Harry Levins, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"The movie 'Bull Durham' proved that minor league baseball can grab our attention in a movie theater. The book 'Dirty Rice' extends that proof to a couple of hundred printed pages while tossing in lots of Louisiana local color (including a spicy dish called dirty rice) and Depression-era atmosphere. As Jack Buck used to put it, 'That's a winner.'"



Blue Sabine


Lee Smith, author of Mrs. Darcy and the Blue-Eyed Stranger and On Agate Hill

"Blue Sabine is a big, spellbinding novel, as deep and complex as the Texas river for which it's named. The mystery and relevance of the past is Gerald Duff's great theme, as he masterfully traces one family's history from the Civil War to the present day. His great characters are all astonishing storytellers, with true and compelling voices that will ring in my head forever."


Roy Blount Jr., author of Alphabetter Juice: The Joy of Text

"Blue Sabine [is] a veritable saga of insights, intimacies, and intimations. The characters are obsessed with their family, and the reader is completely caught up in this American story set in the historic valley of the Sabine"


Brandon James, The Port Arthur News

"This book is a bottomless pit of contextual aphorisms and southern insights, and it might even remind some men and women of Southeast Texas of the stories told to them by their grandfathers and grandmothers."


Amber Peckham, Tri-Quartly Online

"Blue Sabine is a lyrical, unsentimental interior portrait of the frustrations and trials of the Holt family, told by the family's matriarch and five generations of her descendents....Duff is successful in creating human, relatable characters; a reader may well pause for self-examination during some of the narrators' more reflective moments. This book makes readers feel keenly the weight of their own past and consider the weight carried by those they love"


Steven L. Davis, Southwestern Historical Quarterly

"In this beautifully written, wondrously told novel by Gerald Duff, one family's personal history merges with the larger currents of Texan and American history, creating a twisting, turning narrative that is as aesthetically satisfying as it is historically resonant."


Vanessa Blakeslee, The Kenyon Review

"Perhaps Duff's greatest strength lies in his stepping aside to let his characters reveal themselves, in their own language, following the tradition of Southern writers such as Flannery O'Connor and Eudora Welty. ...The oil fields and pine woods of East Texas are a locale rarely visited upon in fiction, and setting is the silent character lurking from the riverbed in Blue Sabine, which will haunt you long after you've closed its pages



Home Truths: A Deep East Texas Memory


Steven Whitton, Professor of English at Jacksonville State University, for the Aniston Starr

"To understand the subtlety and control of Duff as author is to be enthralled by the simplicity of the takes from his yout, only to be spellbound by the increasing haughtiness, trepidation, and guilt about his leave-taking from Texas, his desperation to enter college, his need to become a professor of English by embracing his "non-qualitative mind."


Robb Forman Dew, winner of the National Book Award for Fiction

"Gerald Duff's stunning memoir is brilliant and remarkably compelling. His recounting of his life (and what he calls the lies he's told about it) caused me to rethink many things about the incalculable ways we treat each other and betray ourselves. And almost nothing I read does that anymore. Home Truths is a wonderful, funny, and heart-breaking novel"

Texas Book Lover

"This memoir is about how book-loving Gerald Duff survived and escaped with sensitivity and intellectual curiosity and ambition intact. It is the author's contention that people in these circumstances must believe the lies they tell about themselves and each other in order to survive the psychic wounds inflicted by this culture. Desperation is a ruinous thing. This book is honest and courageous and I recommend it to you all."

Julie Kane, Library Journal.com

"Duff's account of a life led against the grain in East Texas is keenly thematic, peppered with insightful accounts of the seemingly ordinary. Ably composed and strong on locale ... Duff tells a wry, astute story that offers a perceptive commentary on ... time and place."



FIRE ANTS


AND OTHER SHORT STORIES

Roy Blount Jr.
“These stories are richly observed, keen-witted and tellingly sympathetic to a wide range of characters, from a Texas whorehouse customer getting stabbed in the temple to a young woman imagined in the act of imagining herself someone else.”

David Lynn, Editor, The Kenyon Review

“Gerald Duff's latest collection, Fire Ants, is the work of a master storyteller. Working in a great tradition from Twain to Faulkner and beyond, Duff crumples a reader with laughter, even as we know we are glimpsing deep truths about these strange human creatures. There is joy in this, and wisdom too, and the kind of humility that is hard won. I admire Gerald Duff's achievement, and I am grateful for it.” 
Harvey Freedenburg, BookPage
“Calling a short story writer a ""Southern writer"" inevitably conjures up images of giants like Flannery O'Connor and Eudora Welty. While Gerald Duff hasn't reached that eminence, his collection Fire Ants is a fine addition to the genre. Readers from North and South alike will find much to engage them in this stimulating collection.”
Jeff Putnam, author of By the Wayside, Bottoms Up and Sellout
“Duff’s Fire Ants compares to the work of the old masters because the material of it is the material of life: ordinary speech, ordinary activity, recognizable to all, and yet in Duff’s hands these become eternal art. The dialogue is the surest proof of Duff’s mastery.”

John Sledge, Mobile Press-Register

“Fire Ants and Other Stories” presents 15 shorts by Gerald Duff, a native Texan and an accomplished poet and novelist whose work has been much lauded. The pieces in this collection have previously appeared in quality literary journals like Ploughshares, Kenyon Review and Missouri Review.Among the selections is “Maryland, My Maryland,” a Civil War story narrated by a Confederate soldier. As a historian, I am always interested to see how contemporary fiction writers treat 19th-century subjects. The difficulties are many and profound, not the least of them convincingly inhabiting a Victorian sensibility from the confines of this unbuttoned age. ... I found the piece absorbing, even riveting, and peppered with memorable descriptions.”


Kirk Curnutt, author of Baby, Let’s Make a Baby, Plus Ten More Stories and the novel Breathing Out the Ghost
“The author of Memphis Ribs and Coasters returns with fifteen stories that are both geographically and temporally diverse, ranging from Texas to Baltimore and the nineteenth century to the twenty-first. Duff is that rare writer that can conjure up Dixie eccentricities without demeaning his characters. Opening sentences such as “Bobby Shepard smelled bad” (“The Anglers’ Paradise Fish-Cabin Dance of Love”) and “Quentin Vest had always trusted policemen, even back when everybody called them pigs” (“The Officer Responding”) introduce us to folk who, however gawky, are never reduced to O’Connoresque grotesques to be debased for reader amusement. The scenarios likewise land this side of clever, as opposed to the gratuitously absurd. “Charm City” manages to tweak literary pretension without discounting the lure of creative writing in a story about a none-too-artistic man drawn to poetry readings. As the author of six novels, Duff has waited a long time to gather his stories in book form. Both fun and funny, but most of all humane, Fire Ants is a template for story writers seeking to balance range with unity. No one entry quite resembles another, and yet together they feel a piece of a world gone slightly askew. ”

Lee Smith

“Gerald Duff’s great characters are all astonishing storytellers, with true and compelling voices that will ring in my head forever. This book is an American classic.”

Shawn Ryan, Anniston Star

“To a Southerner, these off-the-beaten-path folks are just that — folks. They may be different from run-of-the-mill, but you get along with them because they're members of your community and that's just what you do.Duff examines these sorts of people in his most-recent work, the short-story collection Fire Ants.”

Steve Whitton, The Anniston Star

“Gerald Duff writes of what perhaps ought to be called “the New South,” a part of Texas that isn’t all that different from the Old South of William Faulkner or the stultifying traditions that permeate the works of Flannery O’Connor or the knowing comedy of the great works of Eudora Welty. That’s quite a lot for any writer to aspire to, but Duff does so with great ease and absolute assurance. ... From one story to the next, Fire Ants gets better and better as Gerald Duff quietly honors his Southern literary forebears.”

Anya Yurchyshyn, Ploughshares

“What’s particularly impressive about the collection is its wide range of voices and settings, and Duff’s ability to infuse wry humor into awkward moments, or into entire stories."

Coasters

That's All Right Mama: The Unauthorized Life of Elvis's Twin

Memphis Ribs

Graveyard Working

Indian Giver