Womanless weddings and keypals If you need help selecting a gift for any occasion, you've come to the right place. What gift is always the right color, the right size, and the right price? Why, books of course! Before Faith, before Garth, before Suzanne, Tammy, George, Joan, Woody, and even Hank there were Agnes Thompson, Mattie Boner, prison gangs, the W.


W. String Band, and womanless weddings. Yes, womanless weddings. No, it's not a Tim Burton/ Quentin Tarantino collaboration, it's Southern Exposure: The Story of Southern Music in Pictures and Words by Richard and Bob Carlin (Billboard Books/Watson-Guptill, $24.95, ISBN 0823084264). For anyone who has read Donald Davidson's Big Ballad Jamboree, this is proof positive that the roots of folk, blues, and gospel music (among others) are varied and rich. The photos and text cover the period from 1850 to World War II, and readers will travel from homes to churches to workplaces and festivals as they "listen" to early strains of banjos, mandolins, accordions, etc.

Can anyone pick Bill Monroe and Muddy Waters out of the photographs? In this collection, they're young enough to barely sport beards. Taken from the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and various private collections, the images in Southern Exposure include both well known and anonymous musicians from the South who contributed to what eventually evolved into spliced and diced genres of music. In addition, readers will also learn these musicians' influences as well (for example, how did Hawaii factor into this hodgepodge?). Both Carlins have respectable credentials for such an undertaking; Richard has already authored previous books on country and classical music, and Bob is a folklorist/performer who documents traditional North Carolina music. Southern Exposure is a careful, deliberate array of information that any music enthusiast would relish. Just in time for midterms, the latest edition of Random House Webster's College Dictionary ($24.95, ISBN 0375425608) is ready for the taking. Updated for the millennium, entries include fashionista, keypal, and arm candy. Featuring over 207,000 definitions, the Random House Webster's College Dictionary also covers slang, grammar, spelling, foreign terms, abbreviations, symbols, and 27 pages of maps and tables. With all the updates and new features, however, this dictionary still excels at one thing: providing clear, convenient access to words and their meanings.

As always, you can count on clear definitions and pronunciations, extensive advice on avoiding offensive language, and hundreds of illustrations. Celebrating 60 years of new words, these folks aren't resting on millennial laurels; included is a website address to submit new words. Random House Webster's College Dictionary is an obvious gift choice for students returning to school, struggling writers, wordsmiths, and Scrabble players.

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