by Jim Dees – “I had never had a gun pulled on me,” author Lovejoy Boteler writes in “Crooked Snake – The Life and Crimes of Albert Lepard,” a harrowing account of his own kidnapping. In the book, from University Press of Mississippi, Boteler describes his kidnapping in 1968 at age 18 at the hands of Lepard and accomplice, John Parker, both Parchman escapees. Boteler was abducted off his tractor from his family farm near Grenada and forced to drive the outlaws to Memphis, a gun in his ribs.
In an unflinching writing style, Boteler describes his terror: “How much time was in a second? Each second moved forward as a gift. One more moment to live.”
Some thirty years later, Boteler set out to understand how the events of that sweltering June day came to pass. He conducted over 70 interviews with ex-convicts, family members, law officers who had hunted the pair, and the regular folks who were victimized by Lepard’s multiple crime sprees.(Lepard would escape Parchman five times over 14 years, once after reporting back in following a Christmas leave).
Boetler has apparently dealt with the trauma of such an experience in producing this clear-eyed, well researched account. The result is a low-down, true Mississippi crime story, populated with prison yards, dusty Delta back roads, country churches, hot-wired trucks, bloodhounds, abetting relatives with plates of food and yellow Ford Mustangs roaring through the night. Also, this book has one of the most dramatic courtroom scenes – shall we say, hands down – (read the book).
Spoken-word artist Minton Sparks writes -and recites- fiction that feels as true and from the heart as real life. Her tales are populated with small-town flirts (with a “three hook bra”); a “tobacco tan” Vietnam vet carny worker; a single mom gas station attendant (“Nasty answers to her question, “Fill ‘er up?”) open caskets and closed minds; emotional landscapes that genuinely, if not hilariously, capture rural southern life – but with a beat.
Her word pictures are set to music, usually with accompaniment by former Dylan/Lucinda guitarist John Jackson. The interplay of fiction with music is a story you can sway to. Plus, she’s funny as hell. It should be noted that Minton also hosts a series of songwriting-yoga workshops, Soul Quest 2019, so she knows how to move an audience. http://mintonsparks.com/
Watch Minton rock “Carnival Ride”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FC5e4N2EkE8
Oxford trio, The Wineskins, will warm us up with some fine acoustic tunes and our rocking (and unpredictable) house band, the Yalobushwhackers, will paint their own song pictures for maximum movement.
It’s the first full day of spring on The Thacker Mountain Radio Hour and creativity is in full bloom. We welcome the season and our cool guests. Come stop by and smell the roses with us – just don’t smell the host.
Sprung is spring!
Join us for The Thacker Mountain Radio Hour – in person or online:
Thursday, March 21 at 6 pm at Off Square Books (129 Courthouse Square, Oxford, MS 38655). FREE admission.
Guests: Spoken word artist and songwriter, Minton Sparks, author Lovejoy Boteler with musical guest, The Wineskins
Hosts: Jim Dees and our house band, the Yalobushwhackers
Radio: WUMS 92.1 FM (Oxford)