Brad Vice Finds a New Publisher for His Controversial Story Collection

by Staff

Brad Vice’s short story collection, The Bear Bryant Funeral Train, was recently published—again.

Nearly two years after the University of Georgia Press rescinded the 2004 Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction that Vice had won and pulped all unsold copies of his book after learning that one of the stories contains uncredited material from Carl Carmer's Stars Fell on Alabama, a book published over seventy years ago, River City Publishing, an independent press in Montgomery, Alabama, has released a new edition of the book.

The new edition includes an introduction by Vice ("Aims and Acknowledgments") in which he writes, "I weave direct passages from Carmer's text into 'Tuscaloosa Knights,' because my story is meant to look and feel like Carmer's world. But my 'Tuscaloosa' is an alternate universe, a virtual re-creation, a postmodern commentary on the primary text."

Such an acknowledgment by Vice was missing in the award-winning manuscript he submitted to the University of Georgia Press. "I apologize for any offense my methods may have caused the University of Alabama Press, the University of Georgia Press, or the family of Carl Carmer," he writes in the introduction. (Carmer's Stars Fell on Alabama was published by Farrar & Rinehart in 1934 and later reprinted by the University of Alabama Press.)

The new edition also includes four essays—by Michelle Richmond, Jake Adam York, John Dufresne, and Don Noble—that support Vice's "unattributed use of several of Carmer's sentences," as Richmond writes in her essay "A Treasure Regained." Noble, in his essay, "The Wreck of The Bear Bryant Funeral Train, or The Perfect Literary Storm," writes, "I believe Brad Vice was the victim of a kind of publishing 'perfect storm'—a perfect storm of outraged righteousness, of virtuous hysteria."

Of the six hundred readers who responded to an online Opinion Poll conducted by Poets & Writers Magazine in the winter of 2006, 80 percent disagreed with the University of Georgia Press's decision to revoke the Flannery O'Connor Award given to Brad Vice.