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On Nov. 5, 2001, not quite two months after the 9/11 attacks, Lech Walesa spoke at Western Carolina University. Walesa…
Wednesday, 05 July 2017 14:58

Beaches and great mysteries go hand in hand

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For many people, summer means vacation, and vacation means beach. For readers, the beach in turn means packing books to…
Wednesday, 28 June 2017 15:58

In praise of the local library

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Some people are devotees of whiskey, cigars, wine, and craft beer. Some are aficionados of the fine arts, experts on…
Wednesday, 21 June 2017 14:53

Music from inside the Great Pyramid

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Looking for something unique and different? Then I’ve got something for you.
Wednesday, 07 June 2017 15:27

Hewson’s mysteries should come with a warning

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So a friend thrusts a book into your hands and tells you, “You gotta read this one. I know you’ll…
Wednesday, 31 May 2017 16:32

Understanding how to disagree and still respect

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Nineteenth century poet Walt Whitman once wrote “I hear America singing.” Ah, those were the days.
Wednesday, 24 May 2017 15:26

Wit, wisdom and a walk around New York City

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It is 1926, and Lillian Boxfish, mid-20s and ambitious, arrives in Manhattan, where she lands a job working for the…
Wednesday, 17 May 2017 15:13

A memoir written in songs and poems

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In his Preface to Love Songs For A Country Lane, country music icon Chris Gantry writes: “Grant King was a…
Wednesday, 10 May 2017 15:35

A fresh look into an enduring classic

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After finishing the last pages of Libertarians On The Prairie: Laura Ingalls Wilder, Rose Wilder Lane, and the Making of…
Wednesday, 03 May 2017 14:23

Need I say more? The power of wit

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When verbally attacked and left speechless by an assailant, who among us has not long afterwards pondered the mot juste…
Wednesday, 26 April 2017 14:08

A desperate tale, beautifully written

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“And if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry And satisfy the needs of the oppressed, Then your light will…
Wednesday, 19 April 2017 14:46

Pondering the power of forgiveness

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In Charles Martin’s novel A Life Intercepted (Center Street Publishers, 2014, 326 pages), college senior Matthew “the Rocket” Rising has…
In 2011, William Forstchen’s apocalyptic novel, One Second After, appeared on best-seller lists. After reading for review this story of…
Wednesday, 05 April 2017 15:15

An ancient story well told

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In Jennifer Frick-Ruppert’s statement of intent at the back of her book, The Legend of Skyco, she states “While this…
Wednesday, 29 March 2017 15:00

David Joy’s new book is a dark gem

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Just after I bought The Weight of the World, I ran into an old friend of mine who is extremely…
Wednesday, 22 March 2017 16:02

Pour me a glass of great words, and let’s party

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Having given up listening to the dreadful music and talk shows available in my car radio, last week I popped…
Wednesday, 15 March 2017 16:00

Books always make a thoughtful gift

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You’re stuck.  It’s your boss’ birthday, your nephew’s graduation from high school, your cousin’s promotion at work, and you need…
Wednesday, 08 March 2017 18:43

Burke’s writing shines in The Jealous Kind

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In The Jealous Kind (Simon and Schuster, 2016, 400 pages, $27.99), novelist James Lee Burke drops his readers into Houston,…
Wednesday, 01 March 2017 16:55

In rural Scotland, lessons on the power of books

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Readers of this column know I am a sucker for books about books. Novels like The Little Paris Bookshop, collections…
Wednesday, 22 February 2017 15:06

‘Casablanca’ one of the finest scripts of all time

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“Casablanca.” For some, that name evokes a city in Morocco, an urban center of four million people quartering one of…
Wednesday, 15 February 2017 16:49

Blizzard of 1993 is catalyst for a fine first novel

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In True Stories At The Smoky View (She Writes Press, 2016, 325 pages, $16.95), Vrai Stevens Lynde — the “Vrai”…
Wednesday, 08 February 2017 16:17

Ben-Hur’s long history is captivating

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Some authors and critics sniff at best-sellers. I suppose the idea is that a novel appealing to so many thousands…
Wednesday, 01 February 2017 16:32

Hillbilly Elegy author can’t shake the label

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“Southern Appalachia is a region about which, perhaps, more things are known that are not true than any other part…
Wednesday, 25 January 2017 16:17

Books about the American South will delight

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Let’s go exploring. More specifically, let’s explore the American South.
Wednesday, 18 January 2017 16:47

A vow to open a few more books

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New Year’s resolutions and I make for poor company. Like many reading this column, I have in the past made…
Wednesday, 11 January 2017 16:29

Books from different ends of the spectrum

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Opposites attract, so the old saying runs. We’ve all known friends, husbands and wives, and lovers who match this adage,…
Wednesday, 04 January 2017 16:03

Book about artist is itself a work of art

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In mid-October I attended the second lecture of three at my local library on the Italian artist Caravaggio (1571-1610). A…
Wednesday, 28 December 2016 16:39

From cradle to grave: books for growth and health

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Visit any bookshop or library and you will find loads of books telling you how to live a better life,…
Wednesday, 21 December 2016 15:36

A fresh look at the life of Evelyn Waugh

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Fifty years ago this past spring, on Easter Sunday, Evelyn Waugh died of a heart attack in his home in…
Wednesday, 14 December 2016 17:07

A mystery tale with a canine hero

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This is a delightful book and I am confident that it will be judged one of the best books of…
Wednesday, 07 December 2016 16:25

It’s OK sometimes to just take a dip

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Of course, we’re intended to read from cover to cover many books — novels, histories, biographies, and more. It would…
Wednesday, 30 November 2016 16:34

Local bookstores should be celebrated, supported

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In My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop (Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers Inc., 2012,…
Wednesday, 23 November 2016 15:53

You might enjoy a visit to Broken Wheel, Iowa

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One of the great joys of reading occurs when we bump into a book by an author we’ve never heard…
Wednesday, 16 November 2016 17:10

This is historical fiction well worth a read

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Nearly 20 years ago, while browsing the shelves of the Haywood Country Public Library, I came across a collection of…
Wednesday, 09 November 2016 15:36

Coming to grips with her own image

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Among Americans the two most egregious social stigma are smoking and obesity. We relegate smokers to sidewalks and rooftops when…
Wednesday, 02 November 2016 15:31

Searching for the meaning in a grueling trek

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Recently, I attended “Coffee With the Poets” at City Lights Bookstore and heard the poet, Newton Smith, read and discuss…
Wednesday, 26 October 2016 16:33

Sorry, but Bob Dylan didn’t deserve the Nobel

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One moment, please. To ward off the brickbats, cudgels, stones, dirt clods, and rotten tomatoes sure to come my way,…
Wednesday, 19 October 2016 15:47

A reviewer must learn to roll with the changes

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Have you ever experienced one of those moments when you look at what you are doing and where you are…
Wednesday, 12 October 2016 17:26

Presidential power grows at an alarming rate

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“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will…
Wednesday, 05 October 2016 15:52

A story about coping with loss

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Sometimes loss and death give little or no warning of their arrival. The doorbell rings at two in the morning,…
Wednesday, 28 September 2016 15:53

Burke spins complicated tale full of violence

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In House Of The Rising Sun (Simon & Schuster, 2015, 435 pages, $27.99), James Lee Burke tells the story of…
Wednesday, 21 September 2016 15:10

A rollicking debut novel with a Hemingway twist

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In December 1922 Hadley Hemingway set out from Paris to join her husband Ernest, then a newspaper reporter and an…
Wednesday, 14 September 2016 15:28

Putting a face on the growing white underclass

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For decades, the lot of poor white Americans has worsened. Marriage rates have plummeted while out-of-wedlock births have skyrocketed. Unemployment,…
Wednesday, 07 September 2016 15:06

Sociologist got it wrong; religion is on the uptick

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In 1968, Peter Berger, a Boston University sociologist, told the New York Times that by “the 21st century, religious believers…
Wednesday, 31 August 2016 15:03

The best way to learn to write is simple – write

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This one’s for students, especially those of you in secondary school and college. Let’s get right to the point. Reading,…
Wednesday, 24 August 2016 11:34

Novel explores questions of real import

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It’s a wonderful day when a book surprises us with its wit, story, style, and wisdom. Recently I was talking…
Most of us like lists: “The 100 Greatest Novels of the Twentieth Century,” “The Ten Best Movies of All Time,”…
Wednesday, 10 August 2016 15:41

The life of Harry Crews makes for depressing reading

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This may be the most depressing biography I have ever read. Although I frequently considered abandoning this painful trudge through…
Wednesday, 03 August 2016 13:59

Getting what you give up

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In a 12-round heavyweight professional boxing match, at the beginning of the twelfth round there is a bell and the…
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