Arts + Entertainment

bookI have always been an Art Bell fan, and judging from the extensive archives on YouTube, I am not the only one. For the past 20 years, Bell has been acknowledged as the “King of nighttime radio” and usually holds forth around midnight from some remote site in Australia or the Mohave. His program is always a call-in show with names like “Coast to Coast,” or “Dreamland” or currently, “Midnight in the Desert.”

bookIn Reclaiming Conversation, author Sherry Turkle notes that significant changes sometimes come to our daily lives without our noticing, until someone like Rachael Carson publishes an astonishing work like Silent Spring, telling us that our advances in technology have brought a permanent change to our environment.

bookNadia Bolz-Weber is the founder of the House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, Colorado. She defines herself as “a sarcastic, heavily tortured, angry person who swears.” She is also heavily tattooed. She often hears herself referred to as “that scandalous and dangerous woman.”

bookWhen I was in graduate school at Western Carolina University back in 1970, I encountered a remarkable teacher, Dr. Louise Rorabacker, a retired professor from Purdue who had decided to move to Western North Carolina. There were only 12 of us in her “honors class” on dystopian and utopian literature, and we read a dozen works in about eight weeks.

bookBeing a lifelong Stephen King fan, I have always been pleased to note that King is always keenly aware of the world around him. By that, I mean that he reads, watches the news every day and seems to be genuinely distressed by what he finds there. He still has that gift of understanding teenagers as is evident in his “spot on” dialogue in “Mile 81” (which also turns out to be a tribute to his over-the-top novel, Christine).

bookAvenue of Mysteries is John Irving’s fourteenth novel and it marks another amazing tale from an author who has been writing for half a century. For those of us who read The World According to Garp (1978) and A Prayer for Owen Meany (1989) — two works that remain best sellers — the reader may rest assured that we are once more in a familiar John Irving landscape: a world replete with abandoned children, transvestites, a guilt-ridden protagonist, faithful dogs, shocking crimes and bizarre, disturbing rituals, not to mention a generous amount of explicit sex. This time out, Irving adds a new theme — occultism and the supernatural.

bookBack in the ‘60s, I went on a science fiction bender that lasted a decade.

When I used to work for the Cherokees, there were occasions when there was little to do. When that happened, I would vanish into the archives of the museum where I would find all the ancient history and folklore that was rarely explored — neglected because it was at odds with the image that the museum presented to the public.

bookBeing a historical fiction addict, I have always loved books about London, a city that has been around for over a thousand years, changing, morphing with the centuries. I remember reading a biography of Shakespeare that noted that travelers could smell London 20 miles away, a stench that consisted of burning refuse and open sewers.

bookThis is a monumental work. Ann Miller Woodford has gathered an astonishing amount of information, including old letters, church records, unpublished and previously published histories, mementos and dairies. She has spent some seven years, visiting family elders, cemeteries and the abandoned sites of churches, factories and villages. 

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Reading Room

  • A strange mix of books crosses my desk
    A strange mix of books crosses my desk The first weeks of 2018 have seen some offbeat books shamble across my desk and into my fingers. First up is John Buchan’s Mr. Standfast, also known as Mr. Steadfast. Buchan, a Scottish novelist and politician who served as Governor General of Canada from 1935…
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