Straight up or subtle satire? You decide

Writers of fiction find themselves under several obligations. First and perhaps foremost, they must entertain their readers, enticing them to…
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Some bookish thoughts for the new year

Whatever our political beliefs or affiliations, few of us, I suspect, will look back on 2022 with pangs of nostalgia,…
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A surfer’s quest to find Zen on the sea

“If there is magic on the planet, it is contained in water.” — Loren Eiseley It’s not often that one finds…
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Dreams and near dreams — a return to the 60s

Baron Wormser, who is a former Poet Laureate of Maine, has a new novel titled “Some Months in 1968” (Woodhall…
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Drunk and down but never defeated

Take a broken-hearted, alcoholic English professor, some colleagues seeking his dismissal from the university, several women who desire him for…
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Thoughts and books for your 
own ‘Happiness Project’

In her online article “World Happiness Report reveals the US has gotten happier in 2022,” Ann Schmidt relates that the…
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Here’s to inflation-fighting holiday gifts

According to a recent U.S. News & World Report article, “The 15 Richest Counties in the U.S.,” five of these…
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C.S. Lewis bio is worth a read

Mention the name C.S. Lewis to other readers, and they might recollect him in any number of roles. The younger…
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A perfect gift for local lore buffs

If you’re looking for a gift for the holidays for that person in your life who enjoys reading about local…
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Language is illuminated in new memoir

Once in a great while, something unexpected and exceptional crosses my desk. In this case it was a gift from…
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Bringing Van Gogh home: the value of art books

Recently I wrote an article on the American artist Edward Hopper and his vision of solitude and alienation. Though I…
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The good and the bad: two book reviews

À chacun son gout, as the French say: “To each his own,” or if you prefer, “There’s no accounting for…
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Lost and found in the woods of Appalachia

Another regional writer has just published a new book. Janisse Ray, whom I know as an original member of the…
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God forbid it ever comes to this

Every once in a while, a book gives me the willies.  “2034: A Novel of the Next World War” did…
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The lost poems of Wilma Mankiller

Wilma Mankiller was the first female Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation from 1985 to 1995. She was an activist…
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Hope and laughter from a patron saint

Dear Christine Simon, Normally I write a book review in this space, and I intend to do so here in…
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Heroes, misfits, and men: two reviews

In “Sexual Personae,” controversial feminist Camille Paglia wrote, “When I cross the George Washington Bridge or any of America’s other…
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Annus horribilis: A review of Taylor Downing’s ‘1942’

Annus horribilis is Latin for a horrible year, a time of disaster, and aptly applies to the first months of…
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Buddhism and the San Francisco Beats

“Crowded By Beauty” (University of California Press, 2015) is the poetic title of the most recent biography of Philip Whalen.…
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Stepping backwards through time via literature

In the past 10 days, whim, a desire for a breather from our breathless age, and heaven knows what else…
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A trio of books all worth a read

Before proceeding to reading and books, a note on circumstances and environment.
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Murder, bibliophiles, and a B&B

In “A Fatal Booking” (Crooked Lane Books, 2022, 304 pages), Victoria Gilbert’s third novel in her series “Booklovers B&B Mysteries,”…
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Ecopoetry ruminations from the Great Smokies

“We must unhumanize our view a little, and become confident / As the rock, and ocean that we were made from.” —…
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Local author pens novel about pre-Depression Asheville

I’ve said it before — our local authors are “going to town” these days, and in this case quite literally. 
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Regrets and no regrets: a review of two books

Daniel Pink’s “The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward” (Riverhead Books, 1922, 256 pages) opens with a…
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Making a positive change in the world

“Eleutheria” is the Greek word for “freedom.” It is also the reference name of an island in the Bahamas (Eleuthera).…
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The boy monk: a review of ‘Monastery Mornings’

To be human is to suffer. In the case of third-grader Michael O’Brien, that meant watching the apparent disintegration of his…
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Shipwreck, survival and faith all in one novel

Novels that touch on faith and God have long intrigued me.
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Pride, ignorance and high tech equal disaster

About halfway through “Blue Fire” (Kensington Publishing Corp., 2022, 326 pages,) John Gilstrap’s apocalyptic novel about a worldwide nuclear war,…
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A well-told history of the Lakota Sioux

Having grown up in these Cherokee hills, I became interested in things native from an early age. This interest, spawned…
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Off to the beach with “Shrimp Highway”

Too much time has passed since I last visited the coast.
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I don’t get it: A Review of ‘The Ballad of Laurel Springs’

Sometimes a book I’ve read, particularly a novel, will leave me mystified, which is not always a good thing.
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One man’s vision of the Southern Appalachians

In my recent passion and ongoing interest in reviewing books by local and regional authors, I am offering here, yet…
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A quick review and a word of gratitude

Recently in this space I reviewed “The Broken Spine” by Dorothy St. James, a murder mystery set in a small…
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‘The Broken Spine’ and ‘The Dead Beat’

Cypress, South Carolina is a moderately-sized town surrounded by farms where neighbors know one another and the pace of life…
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Making your business a success; making success your business

It’s not often, if ever, that I would review a book about “how to succeed in business.” But I’m in…
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Medicine for the soul: reading Roger Scruton

So why take a look here at two books by a philosopher and polymath, neither of which may appeal to…
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One long, one short: ‘The Book of Candlelight’ and ‘Human Smoke’

Some men pick up a copy of Ellery Adams’ “The Book of Candlelight: A Secret, Book, and Scone Society Novel”…
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Making peace with the past

I spent my boyhood living in Graham County in a community called Milltown in Robbinsville. In those days, there was…
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Take time to read the ‘Book of Nature’

During the pandemic, regional authors have been busy. I’ve been made aware of several books being released this year by…
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Summer’s coming, and it’s time for some fun!

“Summertime, and the livin’ is easy….” So begins one of the George Gershwin’s greatest songs, an aria in “Porgy and Bess”…
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National Poetry Month: Honor our poets by listening

What month other than April could possibly be designated National Poetry Month?
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From Soviet Russia to the American rural South

Time for the book review machine to travel back a few years.
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Good book, bad ending: ‘A Stolen Focus’

Sucker-punched. That’s how I felt when I finished reading Johann Hari’s “Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention — and How…
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From pole to pole, reimagining the future

It’s rare to come across a book that takes one far afield from the original focus presented by the artist…
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Wild and free: two books, two approaches

A friend who was a fan of the Lee Child’s novels used to wear a T-shirt reading, “What would Jack…
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An old guy looks at graphic books

Over the last year or so, I’ve noticed that the graphic books on the shelves of my public library are…
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‘Just Maria’ a good read for all ages

What’s up with me? In my old age, am I regressing backwards to my teenage days? Or is Jay Hardwig’s…
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Take the edge off winter with story hour

It’s late Saturday afternoon, February, that hour before supper when the little ones go bananas, and the 5-year-old and his…
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Pancakes, with a side of ‘Craft & Culture’

Several years ago, when my children and grandchildren were gathering for a week at the beach in a house I’d…
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