‘Any Other Place’ provides lessons in living

Literature at its best is a fast-track course in human nature. From Shakespeare we can, if we are attentive, learn…
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Book has important lessons, links to bygone era

In Ancient Rome, the Senate awarded a general who had won a great victory with a triumph, a parade that…
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A reminder: leave something good behind

Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly won my admiration long ago. I purchased my copy from Asheville’s…
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The Great Escape? Read a book

July had come and gone, a month filled with obligations, all of them good, but exhaustion walked hand in hand…
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A fine first novel exploring loneliness

Loneliness. Even the word, standing that way by itself, smacks of the pitifully sad and alone, forlorn.
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A stirring story of America’s push west

Sometimes we open a book, slip into its pages, and find ourselves the recipients of three wonderful gifts: information and…
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A few good books about old times

In 1960, when I was in elementary school, the pop group Dante & the Evergreens rocked my young ears with…
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Trying to define Appalachia and the South

Who speaks for Appalachia? That is the question implicit in Appalachian Reckoning: A Region Responds to Hillbilly Elegy (West Virginia…
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Book examines stark example of racism

On February 12, 1946, just hours after his discharge from the Army, Sergeant Isaac Woodard got into an argument with…
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Writing to heal the wounds of war

June 2019 marks the twentieth anniversary of The Smoky Mountain News. At the party celebrating this landmark in the paper’s…
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Books helps us understand our own history

“We need to know what kind of firm ground other men, belonging to generations before us, have found to stand…
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Which way is the wilderness?

The theme of Brent Martin’s new book of essays — The Changing Blue Ridge Mountains — is “It’s a good…
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Loving every word of it, all 630,000

Let’s start with some basic mathematics. For 20 years, I have reviewed books for The Smoky Mountain News. For some…
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Sense of place is crucial to Hewson’s novels

Some novelists display a real talent for capturing a place in words and then bringing that “little postage stamp of…
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A story of people becoming real

“Only connect.” Though that line from E.M. Forster’s Howard’s End refers to human love and passion, his words also seem…
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Still jazzy after all these years

I first discovered Lawrence Ferlinghetti in high school and his book Starting From San Francisco and have read everything he’s…
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Deserving books that may pique your interest

On the red wooden chair near my desk, 14 inches high, is a mound of books waiting for review. Three…
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A trip to the beach without leaving home

“Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever…
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When love is illuminated

Sarah Hall, born in the Lake District of the Cumbria region of northwestern England in 1974, began to take writing…
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Author treats death and grief with realism

Some will understand more fully than others. On a Wednesday you arrive home to find the one you love collapsed…
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Something satisfying in a good mystery

Jack Reacher is back. In Past Tense (Delacorte Press, 2018, 382 pages), Lee Child, author of 21 novels about Jack…
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Apollo missions were propelled by a bold vision

July 20, 1969. This summer marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin…
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The art of writing can certainly be learned

“What we have here is failure to communicate.” So says The Captain, the warden of a prison, in the movie…
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A quick run through some fine books

Spring-cleaning. Those two words conjure up images of washing windows, storing away the winter clothes, and carting off odds-and-ends to…
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A book for those who love books

Yes! Yes! YES! YES! Lest you think I am wallowing in some bed of literoticism or celebrating Molly Bloom from…
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Jennie Churchill was anything but a prude

Mrs. Patrick Campbell, famed Victorian actress, was renowned for her sharp wit. On hearing about a sexual relationship between two…
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Reading aloud is good medicine for all

Here are two books about books, one aimed at amusement, the other at instruction. Or so they were written and…
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Yiddish noir novel hits the mark

So, how many Yiddish authors do you know? If you’re like me your answer would be none. That is until…
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A worthwhile book on raising children

Much is made these days of “snowflakes,” slang for some of our young people. One online source defines snowflakes as…
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Falling in love with a writer

Valentine’s Day is almost here, and I have fallen in love. Again. Three years ago, Nina George entranced me with…
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A poet offers thoughts on life and death

When someone dies, we look for words to assuage our grief and the grief of others. We deliver eulogies, we…
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When the fault lies in ourselves

I used to teach seminars in composition, history, literature, and Latin to homeschool students. One day a bright young man…
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A master in our midst

Michael Revere grew up here in these mountains. He went to college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel…
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Graham Greene, redemption, and us

Let’s start the new year with some old books. We begin with two suppositions. First, you are a good person…
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The unbelievable kindness of Mr. Rogers

My online dictionary defines hagiography as “the writing of the lives of the saints, adulatory writing about another person, or…
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Making a small dent in the book pile

So many books, so little time. Many booklovers may have uttered that old saw with a sigh, but in my…
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Playing with a net: ‘Formal Salutations’

When I was teaching homeschool students in AP Literature, I would on occasion ask them to write a sonnet. The…
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What a woman! Why I love Camille Paglia

Fierce. Honest. Libertarian.  Those are just three of the reasons why author and professor Camille Paglia has fascinated me for…
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A fine novel about a fascinating literary era

The writers who lived and practiced their art between the two world wars of the twentieth century continue to exert…
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You can’t make this stuff up

One of my favorite and most often used aphorisms in this lifetime has been “you can’t make this stuff up.”…
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Cookbooks make nice holiday gifts

So there I was on a Wednesday afternoon in October in one of my favorite spots in town: the public…
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Book explores Trump’s election victory

Want to know why Donald Trump won the 2016 election in one of the most stunning upsets in American history?…
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Halloween suggestions for the young and old

In 2015, online blogger Amanda Russo posted a humorous piece “Why Halloween Is Actually A Pretty Weird Holiday.” As Russo…
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A book for those who wonder what ails them

Time to move away from novels and histories, and look inside some general gift books. First up is How Psychology…
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Book examines change in rural Appalachia

In the last 75 years, the landscape and the culture of the Appalachian South have undergone enormous change. Take the…
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A start on that ever-growing pile of books

So many books, so little time. Many booklovers may have uttered that old saw with a sigh, but in my…
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A slow, beautiful tale told through letters

English farmwife and mother Tina Hopgood writes to Professor P.V. Glob. The professor had long ago dedicated his book, The…
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Tyler delivers another delightful novel

Years ago, my wife and I belonged to a Waynesville book club in which a couple would act as host…
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God’s broadcasting station — the great outdoors

When I taught homeschool seminars in Latin, history, and literature in Asheville, I would wait for a cold spell in…
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Events for readers and writers
 

Events for readers and writers

Salvation sought through moonshine  Terry Roberts will present his new novel The Holy Ghost and Speakeasy and Revival at 3…
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