A withering cultural critic takes aim
 

A withering cultural critic takes aim

In Withering Slights: The Bent Pin Collection (National Review Books, 2015, ISBN 978-0-9847650-3-4, 186 pages, $24.95), Florence King demonstrates once…
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Dam politics and freedom of religion
 

Dam politics and freedom of religion

The growing threat of drought in the Southeast and the problems of “water politics” has prodded the memory of many…
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Fate and fortune sing in new novel
 

Fate and fortune sing in new novel

Spartanburg poet and nonfiction writer John Lane has broken out of his comfort zone and journeyed into the netherworld of…
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Remembering the horrors of Europe’s wars
 

Remembering the horrors of Europe’s wars

Many Americans — and I count myself among them — are often hard on Europeans when it comes to issues…
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An outlandish life makes for hilarious novel
 

An outlandish life makes for hilarious novel

Irish novelist Kennedy Marr is making millions of dollars through the sale of his books and as a Hollywood scriptwriter.…
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A story that makes one look differently at life
 

A story that makes one look differently at life

Like some other readers I know, my taste in books these last 20 years or so has shifted from fiction…
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Below ‘the line,’ it’s a world unto itself
 

Below ‘the line,’ it’s a world unto itself

I spent a week reading this novel, and each time I laid it down, I expected to find a damp…
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Book captures turn-of-the-century north Georgia
 

Book captures turn-of-the-century north Georgia

In Annaliese From Off (Five Points Press, ISBN 978-0-692-24434-0, 362 pages, $15.99), Lindy Keane Carter gives us a rich, old-fashioned…
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First novel by local writer strikes a chord
 

First novel by local writer strikes a chord

Eighteen-year-old Jacob McNeely, a shy high school dropout from Walter Middleton High School in Jackson County, North Carolina, seems resigned to…
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Words, language and grammar do matter
 

Words, language and grammar do matter

“In a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” — George Orwell We live in an…
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Larry Brown earns his spot in Southern pantheon
 

Larry Brown earns his spot in Southern pantheon

One of my bookshelves is reserved for books that I have not read, but that I am saving for some…
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Guys, don’t fear Valentine’s Day, embrace it
 

Guys, don’t fear Valentine’s Day, embrace it

Note to readers: this is one of the few times I have written a column addressed to one sex —…
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King’s newest novel is as good as it gets
 

King’s newest novel is as good as it gets

During the past 60 years, I have maintained a hearty appreciation for what is called “fantasy/horror” literature. I guess it…
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Advice for becoming a body ‘gardener’
 

Advice for becoming a body ‘gardener’

In French Women Don’t Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure, Mirielle Guiliano produced a No. 1 New York…
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Painted Horses is one for the ages
 

Painted Horses is one for the ages

When people ask me what I’ve been doing this fall, I tell them I’ve been on a reading jag —…
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Regrets: books I now know I shall never read
 

Regrets: books I now know I shall never read

For many of us, the bells ringing in the New Year carry a bittersweet tune. We look forward to better…
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The fascinating evolution of the fool killer
 

The fascinating evolution of the fool killer

One of the oldest traditional folktales, ‘Godfather Death,’ exists in all cultures; however, the tone of the stories may vary…
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A renewed appreciation for ‘The Great Gatsby’
 

A renewed appreciation for ‘The Great Gatsby’

In 1977 I fell in love with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. That was a year of deep reading…
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Country noir masterpiece gets its due — again
 

Country noir masterpiece gets its due — again

One of the things that I admire about the New York Review of Books is a special honor that they…
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Start your holiday shopping at the bookstore
 

Start your holiday shopping at the bookstore

For all of you who haven’t started your holiday shopping yet, for you who scorn Black Friday, who keep telling…
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Tolle Lege: Reading that changed my Life
 

Tolle Lege: Reading that changed my Life

When I was 6 years old, I entered the first grade at Boonville Elementary School. For months, various adults had…
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Is democracy bad for the country?
 

Is democracy bad for the country?

The story goes that as Benjamin Franklin was leaving the final session of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, a Mrs.…
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Teen horror sequel is a wild ride
 

Teen horror sequel is a wild ride

About three years ago, I reviewed a bloody little horror tale filled with black humor called Breed. It was a…
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Book explores clash between religion and science
 

Book explores clash between religion and science

In Lauren Grodstein’s novel The Explanation For Everything (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2013, 336 pages, $24.95), we meet Andrew…
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Celebrating the ever-popular essay
 

Celebrating the ever-popular essay

This week it’s time to break out the champagne, pop that cork, and raise a flute of bubbly to the…
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Being manipulated by a book not all bad
 

Being manipulated by a book not all bad

Gone Girl is currently the most popular novel in America and it has been around since 2012; it is also…
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Complicated, confusing and utterly fascinating
 

Complicated, confusing and utterly fascinating

I am intimidated by this book. In fact, this is one of the most challenging reviews that I have ever undertaken.…
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Learning how to organize information overload
 

Learning how to organize information overload

Twenty-five years ago, while under a good deal of pressure and stress, I began noticing I was forgetting things. I…
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The end is near — now what?
 

The end is near — now what?

When the novel, The Leftovers came out several years ago, it was an immediate success. (Oprah gave it a significant boost…
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A realist writer examines uncomfortable topics
 

A realist writer examines uncomfortable topics

“Evil is no more at an end than History, and so long as there are men there will be no…
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Collective guilt permeates novel’s characters
 

Collective guilt permeates novel’s characters

A little over one year ago, Mark Powell published The Dark Corner, a novel that was set in the northwest…
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Time to clear the desk of books waiting for review
 

Time to clear the desk of books waiting for review

For many reasons, this summer in particular afforded many opportunities for reading. During a 60-hour stay at Figure Eight Island,…
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A dark world explored by a gifted writer
 

A dark world explored by a gifted writer

In case you haven’t noticed, let me call your attention to a disturbing fact regarding current Appalachian literature: some critics have been…
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Book challenges me to critique the critic
 

Book challenges me to critique the critic

In Why Read?, University of Virginia professor Mark Edmundson discusses the practice of student reviews of a teacher, then writes:…
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Poems to honor the insatiable mystery of cats
 

Poems to honor the insatiable mystery of cats

By Michael Beadle • Contributing writer Anyone who’s spent serious time with a cat knows there are a myriad of ways…
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Novel explores life in  Chairman Mao’s China
 

Novel explores life in Chairman Mao’s China

After running into numerous critical references to this little novel, which has won a series of international awards and has…
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A critic’s guide to literary genres renamed
 

A critic’s guide to literary genres renamed

Not so long ago, a neighbor in the building where I love in Montford, a budding comedian in her early…
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Stephen King’s newest is more noir than horror
 

Stephen King’s newest is more noir than horror

Each time Stephen King is interviewed, he finds himself responding to the same question: “Where do you get your ideas?”…
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Summer reading always takes a different tack
 

Summer reading always takes a different tack

For whatever reason — the leisurely pace of days, the break in my work routine, the annual trip to the…
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Harlem Hellfighters deserve their due
 

Harlem Hellfighters deserve their due

I have always been something of a fanatic about graphic novels and my collection includes Maus (which depicts the holocaust…
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Give thanks to Burroughs for telling us ‘how’
 

Give thanks to Burroughs for telling us ‘how’

This Is How: Proven Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decrepitude & More, For Young and…
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A story of Jackson County’s Hooper-Watson feud
 

A story of Jackson County’s Hooper-Watson feud

Since I happen to love folklore and storytelling, I have always felt blessed to be a resident of Jackson County.…
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Book examines alcohol and the writer’s life
 

Book examines alcohol and the writer’s life

Let’s begin by noting the continuing biographical interest in writers and drinking. In my own collection are Tom Dardis’s The…
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Old West comes alive in Enger novel
 

Old West comes alive in Enger novel

If you love epic tales that celebrate the American West; if you treasure novels like Trail of the Lonesome Dove,…
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Trio of quality books explore facets of faith
 

Trio of quality books explore facets of faith

Back in the day when the “culture wars” focused more on literature, music and movies — Tipper Gore, for example,…
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Dark story explores love, retribution
 

Dark story explores love, retribution

I have always been drawn to authors who can seize your attention in the first paragraph and like a pit…
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A frank look at monogamy through the ages
 

A frank look at monogamy through the ages

In our tell-all age of talk shows and reality television, of Facebook and Twitter, the idea that restraint and repression…
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Social media gone awry in this compelling novel
 

Social media gone awry in this compelling novel

In recent years, I have developed a growing discomfort with the Internet. Services like Facebook, Amazon, Linked-in have become increasingly…
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The excitement in a bag full of books
 

The excitement in a bag full of books

Recently I returned from a trip to the library with a bagful of books. When handling these books in the…
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The Jane Goodall of sea turtles
 

The Jane Goodall of sea turtles

As I write this, I am wondering if I should disqualify myself from writing a review about a book written…
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