Mississippi Quote of the Day: Barry Hannah’s Review of Book Reviewers

Barry Hannah photo
Photograph by Maude Schuyler Clay

In a New York Times review of Mississippi author Barry Hannah’s debut novel, “Geronimo Rex,” the novelist Jim Harrison called Hannah “one of those young writers who is brilliantly drunk with words and could at gunpoint write the life story of a telephone pole.”

Hannah, a native of Meridian who grew up in Clinton, became one of contemporary fiction’s great figures, thanks to classics like “Airships,” a collection of his short stories published in 1978, and his 1980 novel, “Ray,” among many other works.

Hannah became a writer-in-residence at the University of Mississippi in 1982 and went on to serve as director of Ole Miss’ MFA and creative writing program. He continued living in Oxford until he died of a heart attack in March 2010 at the age of 67.

Hannah was, for the most part, admired by literary critics, but he learned not to take anything they said too seriously.

“I found out about reviews early on. They’re mostly written by sad men on bad afternoons. That’s probably why I’m less angry than some writers, who are so narcissistic they consider every line of every review, even a thoughtful one, as major treason.”

Rick Hynum is editor-in-chief of HottyToddy.com. Email him at rick.hynum@hottytoddy.com.