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© St. Petersburg Times, published July 30, 2000

LISTEN AND READ: Oxford American magazine's annual August Southern Music Issue includes a free CD, with samplings of original songs by Wilco, Alejandro Escovedo and Alison Krauss along with selections from Tom Petty, Dolly Parton, Doc Watson and others. Two Yankees are also featured: Dean Martin covering a Patsy Cline song and Robert Mitchum singing a gospel hymn. The magazine is jam-packed with stories on Southern music and musicians as well as Part Four of John Grisham's semi-autobiographical serial novel, The Painted House. Proceeds from the issue help fund the Music Maker Relief Foundation, an organization that helps down-on-their-luck blues artists. Grisham, by the way, is the magazine's not-so-down-on-his-luck publisher. The issue, now available in bookstores, can also be ordered at

AMERICAN FICTION: American novelists from Julia Alvarez to John Edgar Wideman have contributed to the latest issue of Conjunctions, the literary journal published at Bard College (P.O. Box 5000, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12504). The fiction issue, which includes writers from three generations, is the first of two volumes devoted to American writers. The second, devoted to poetry, will be published in November.

BEAT LIT: Focusing on Beat literature, the current American Book Review (Unit for Contemporary Literature, Campus Box 4241, Illinois State University, Normal, IL 61790-4241) offers reviews of more than a dozen recent books devoted to Beat writers, including Jack Kerouac, who died in St. Petersburg. "The fin de siecle revival of interest in the writers of the Beat Generation may have been triggered in 1990 by Steve Cronenberg's adaptation of Naked Lunch for the screen," writes editor John Tytell. "Actors and movie people have been fascinated by the Beats since Brando, long ago, declared he would love to play the role of Dean in On the Road." That book by Kerouac has yet to be made into a movie (Brando is a bit too old for Dean now), but Francis Ford Coppola still is working on it, Tytell reports.

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