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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…
Wednesday, 27 July 2016 16:32

Bradbury created a genre all his own

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Last year a storm of controversy erupted over the destruction of writer Ray Bradbury’s home in Los Angeles. Architect Thom…
Wednesday, 20 July 2016 15:10

Cowan’s writing could make you cry

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When Leo Cowan, Jackson County’s noted historian and author, died last February just after his second book was published, I…
In her novel Under The Influence (William Morrow, 2016, 321 pages, $25.99), Joyce Maynard makes her title do double duty…
Wednesday, 06 July 2016 15:37

Falling into the rabbit hole of fiction

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For reasons unfathomable to me, I have spent the last two weeks on a fiction-reading jag. Until I was about…
Wednesday, 29 June 2016 03:08

Sylva movie’s author is famed British playwright

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Back a few months ago, when Hollywood came to town, I was fascinated and when I heard that for a…
Wednesday, 22 June 2016 14:35

Jim Harrison lived in servitude to words

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In March, Jim Harrison, age 78, died of a heart attack. Harrison was among the most prolific of American writers,…
Wednesday, 15 June 2016 15:23

A new voice for Southern Appalachian fiction

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To review a book or to write a “book review” is to pinpoint its particular presence and its peculiarities. To…
Wednesday, 08 June 2016 16:26

Hilarious and serious; two different summer reads

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Novels that make me laugh aloud are rare. Two novels, Confederacy of Dunces and Freddy and Fredericka, brought laughter, and…
Wednesday, 01 June 2016 15:46

The March is filled with unique characters

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Several months ago, I was invited to join the Senior Citizen Book Club at the Jackson County Senior Citizen Center.…
Wednesday, 25 May 2016 15:44

Data shows that we are becoming more religious

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In recent years, we have seen a stream of books and authors promoting atheism. Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s…
Wednesday, 18 May 2016 15:36

Teaching children how to succeed at life

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Near the end of The Collapse of Parenting: How We Hurt Our Kids When We Treat Them Like Grown-Ups, Dr.…
Wednesday, 11 May 2016 15:28

Novel mixes Cherokee folklore with real history

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This astonishing “novel” was crafted by three multi-talented western Cherokees who live and create in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. It resembles a…
Wednesday, 04 May 2016 02:21

Crazy little thing called love

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Love. What a loaded word. Let’s skip the love of country, the love of family, the love of nature, the love…
Wednesday, 27 April 2016 15:44

An epic tale of revenge on the frontier

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As you probably know, The Revenant, this astonishing survival tale was recently made into a movie with Leonardo DiCaprio in…
Wednesday, 20 April 2016 13:55

A book about the good news and the bad news

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Twenty-five years ago, a pediatrician told my sister that eggs were unhealthy and that she must never serve them to…
Wednesday, 13 April 2016 14:33

Chaos erupting into beauty

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Stephanie Storey’s Oil and Marble, which was released this spring, is not only a page-turner but an eye-opener.
Wednesday, 06 April 2016 15:06

New light on Salem Witch Trials

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Back in 1954, when I was a freshman at Western Carolina Teachers College (now WCU), the college’s drama department launched…
Wednesday, 30 March 2016 13:50

When disagreeing could still be eloquent

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“War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.” — George Orwell, 1984 For the past year, Americans have endured…
Wednesday, 23 March 2016 15:31

Tragedy at Frank Lloyd Wright’s house

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In this story, I am God. — Frank Lloyd Wright The title of this nonfiction work, Death in a Prairie…
Wednesday, 16 March 2016 15:21

Reading great books remains important

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Lent, which extends from Ash Wednesday to Easter, is for many Christians a time of fasting and prayer. Some believers…
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