Conway writers Janie and Wyatt Jones have a new book that you should probably pick up if you appreciate oddball Arkansas factoids and have a high threshold for puns. Their "Arkansas Curiosities: Quirky Characters, Roadside Oddities & Other Offbeat Stuff" ($15.95, Globe Pequot Press, paperback) leaves no quirky stone uncovered, with entries on everything from the Fouke Monster and the Sauropod footprint in Nashville to the world's largest wind chime in Eureka Springs. But, really, get ready for corny jokes aplenty. On the first page, you're greeted with this gem: "Batesville ... home to the Scottish Festival, where men in kilts air out their differences — and their women hope for a good strong, wind."
El Dorado's Richard Mason will release "Lyin' Like a Dog," the sequel to his novel "The Red Scarf," on July 15, through his own Gibraltar Press. Like the first book, "Lyin'" draws heavily from Mason's childhood in Norphlet, "a time of brown, sunburned feet and shirtless summers, when a boy's only entertainment was his imagination." Mason plans to follow the new release with another novel, "The Warlord's Daughter, Love and War in Afghanistan," based on his son's special forces missions in Afghanistan.
Little Rock historian and preservationist Mark Christ's book "Civil War Arkansas 1863: The Battle for a State," published in March by the University of Oklahoma Press ($34.55, hard cover), is the winner of the 2010 Douglas Southall Freeman History Award, an annual prize given to a work on Southern history.
The University of Arkansas Press celebrates its 30th anniversary this fall with a varied slate of offerings. Among the highlights: "One Story, Thirty Stories: An Anthology of Contemporary Afghan American Literature," which the press bills as the most comprehensive collection of Afghan American writers today; a contemporary boxing anthology, "Boxing Is ...: Reflections on the Sweet Science" by Thomas Hauser, one of the sport's most respected voices, and Brock Thompson's provocative study of gay and lesbian life in Arkansas in the 20th century, "The Un-Natural State: Arkansas and the Queer South."
If you're still feeling sore that your nomination of Charles Portis' name for the parapet of the Central Arkansas Library System's Main Library 15 years ago wasn't successful, here's another chance. The library is once again holding a nomination and election process to determine which writers will be incorporated, if not for eternity, for a long time, into the design of the soon-to-be remodeled fifth floor of the main library, which will become the library's reading room. Nominations may be made online at www.cals.org or on forms available at all branches through July 31. A committee of scholars will then whittle the list down to 100 writers, for whom the public will then have an opportunity to vote from Sept. 20 through Oct. 15.
The criteria for eligibility includes sensible things like "Must have been or be real." Get the full list at cals.org.