Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Stars In His Courses

Shelby Foote passes away:

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Novelist and historian Shelby Foote, whose Southern storyteller's touch inspired millions to read his multivolume work on the Civil War, has died. He was 88.

Foote died Monday night, his widow, Gwyn, said Tuesday.

Foote, a Mississippi native and longtime Memphis resident, wrote six novels but is best remembered for his three-volume, 3,000-page history of the Civil War and his appearance on the PBS series "The Civil War."

He worked on the book for 20 years, using a flowing, narrative style that enabled readers to enjoy it like a historical novel.


Though hardly a recluse, Foote had long been known around Memphis as having little interest in parties and public gatherings. And he was often outspoken about his likes and dislikes.

"Most people, if the truth be told, are gigantic bores," he once said. "There's no need to subject yourself to that kind of thing."

It is said that the losing side produces the best histories, and the Mississippian Foote would seem to buttress that claim.

As far as I know, Foote's number was always in the phone book, and I want to say he lived in Northtown, but now that I think about it, that may not be right (Chickasaw Gardens area, rather?) At any rate, he was old-fashioned and private; he shunned callers. These are high virtues, which most people respected -- and that is really saying something for an almost pathologically history-conscious town like Memphis.

It was nice knowing that such a grand old man of Southern literature and historiography lived in town. So long, Mr. Foote.