A rollicking debut novel with a Hemingway twist

In December 1922 Hadley Hemingway set out from Paris to join her husband Ernest, then a newspaper reporter and an…
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Burke spins complicated tale full of violence

In House Of The Rising Sun (Simon & Schuster, 2015, 435 pages, $27.99), James Lee Burke tells the story of…
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Putting a face on the growing white underclass

For decades, the lot of poor white Americans has worsened. Marriage rates have plummeted while out-of-wedlock births have skyrocketed. Unemployment,…
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The best way to learn to write is simple – write

This one’s for students, especially those of you in secondary school and college. Let’s get right to the point. Reading,…
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Sociologist got it wrong; religion is on the uptick
 

Sociologist got it wrong; religion is on the uptick

In 1968, Peter Berger, a Boston University sociologist, told the New York Times that by “the 21st century, religious believers…
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Novel explores questions of real import

It’s a wonderful day when a book surprises us with its wit, story, style, and wisdom. Recently I was talking…
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I’ll say it: Epstein is the greatest living American essayist

Most of us like lists: “The 100 Greatest Novels of the Twentieth Century,” “The Ten Best Movies of All Time,”…
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The life of Harry Crews makes for depressing reading

This may be the most depressing biography I have ever read. Although I frequently considered abandoning this painful trudge through…
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Bradbury created a genre all his own

Last year a storm of controversy erupted over the destruction of writer Ray Bradbury’s home in Los Angeles. Architect Thom…
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Getting what you give up

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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Cowan’s writing could make you cry
 

Cowan’s writing could make you cry

When Leo Cowan, Jackson County’s noted historian and author, died last February just after his second book was published, I…
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The glitterati’s influence not always what it seems
 

The glitterati’s influence not always what it seems

In her novel Under The Influence (William Morrow, 2016, 321 pages, $25.99), Joyce Maynard makes her title do double duty…
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Sylva movie’s author is famed British playwright
 

Sylva movie’s author is famed British playwright

Back a few months ago, when Hollywood came to town, I was fascinated and when I heard that for a…
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Falling into the rabbit hole of fiction
 

Falling into the rabbit hole of fiction

For reasons unfathomable to me, I have spent the last two weeks on a fiction-reading jag. Until I was about…
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A new voice for Southern Appalachian fiction
 

A new voice for Southern Appalachian fiction

To review a book or to write a “book review” is to pinpoint its particular presence and its peculiarities. To…
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Jim Harrison lived in servitude to words
 

Jim Harrison lived in servitude to words

In March, Jim Harrison, age 78, died of a heart attack. Harrison was among the most prolific of American writers,…
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Hilarious and serious; two different summer reads
 

Hilarious and serious; two different summer reads

Novels that make me laugh aloud are rare. Two novels, Confederacy of Dunces and Freddy and Fredericka, brought laughter, and…
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The March is filled with unique characters
 

The March is filled with unique characters

Several months ago, I was invited to join the Senior Citizen Book Club at the Jackson County Senior Citizen Center.…
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Data shows that we are becoming more religious
 

Data shows that we are becoming more religious

In recent years, we have seen a stream of books and authors promoting atheism. Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s…
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Teaching children how to succeed at life
 

Teaching children how to succeed at life

Near the end of The Collapse of Parenting: How We Hurt Our Kids When We Treat Them Like Grown-Ups, Dr.…
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Novel mixes Cherokee folklore with real history
 

Novel mixes Cherokee folklore with real history

This astonishing “novel” was crafted by three multi-talented western Cherokees who live and create in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. It resembles a…
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An epic tale of revenge on the frontier
 

An epic tale of revenge on the frontier

As you probably know, The Revenant, this astonishing survival tale was recently made into a movie with Leonardo DiCaprio in…
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Crazy little thing called love
 

Crazy little thing called love

Love. What a loaded word. Let’s skip the love of country, the love of family, the love of nature, the love…
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A book about the good news and the bad news
 

A book about the good news and the bad news

Twenty-five years ago, a pediatrician told my sister that eggs were unhealthy and that she must never serve them to…
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Chaos erupting into beauty
 

Chaos erupting into beauty

Stephanie Storey’s Oil and Marble, which was released this spring, is not only a page-turner but an eye-opener.
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When disagreeing could still be eloquent
 

When disagreeing could still be eloquent

“War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.” — George Orwell, 1984 For the past year, Americans have endured…
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New light on Salem Witch Trials
 

New light on Salem Witch Trials

Back in 1954, when I was a freshman at Western Carolina Teachers College (now WCU), the college’s drama department launched…
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Tragedy at Frank Lloyd Wright’s house
 

Tragedy at Frank Lloyd Wright’s house

In this story, I am God. — Frank Lloyd Wright The title of this nonfiction work, Death in a Prairie…
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Reading great books remains important
 

Reading great books remains important

Lent, which extends from Ash Wednesday to Easter, is for many Christians a time of fasting and prayer. Some believers…
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Marquez autobiography rich in detail, just like his prose
 

Marquez autobiography rich in detail, just like his prose

“It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing…
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A few nuggets from books only partly read
 

A few nuggets from books only partly read

Books brought home from the library: The Art of Grace; Keep It Fake; The Churchill Factor; The Fellowship; South Toward…
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Katrina-spawned novel finally getting its due
 

Katrina-spawned novel finally getting its due

Hurricane Katrina spawned an awesome number of literary works, and it may be that, given sufficient time to determine the full…
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Florence King: a biting wit that took no prisoners
 

Florence King: a biting wit that took no prisoners

In Withering Slights: The Bent Pin Collection (National Review Books, 2015, ISBN 978-0-9847650-3-4, 186 pages, $24.95), the recently deceased (she…
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A polite listener for those bizarre stories
 

A polite listener for those bizarre stories

I have always been an Art Bell fan, and judging from the extensive archives on YouTube, I am not the…
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Florence King took no prisoners
 

Florence King took no prisoners

During a recent discussion in the AP Literature class I teach, I mentioned that the actor Alan Rickman had died…
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The Web is changing us in more ways than we know
 

The Web is changing us in more ways than we know

In Reclaiming Conversation, author Sherry Turkle notes that significant changes sometimes come to our daily lives without our noticing, until…
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Start off with something old, something new
 

Start off with something old, something new

With the new year now upon us, it strikes me that “something old” and “something new” is appropriate for this…
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A look at religion and the ‘misfits for Jesus’
 

A look at religion and the ‘misfits for Jesus’

Nadia Bolz-Weber is the founder of the House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, Colorado. She defines herself as…
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A man addicted to reading and writing
 

A man addicted to reading and writing

My name is Joe Ecclesia. On a recent December Saturday, when I interviewed Jeff Minick about his new novel, Dust…
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E.M. Forster 1907 novel relevant today
 

E.M. Forster 1907 novel relevant today

When I was in graduate school at Western Carolina University back in 1970, I encountered a remarkable teacher, Dr. Louise…
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Courage, greed and political intrigue in Peru
 

Courage, greed and political intrigue in Peru

When we think of Peru, we think of captivating pictures of Machu Picchu. We’ve all seen them. Some of us…
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Forschen novel looks at collapse a year later
 

Forschen novel looks at collapse a year later

In the spring of 2011, there appeared William Forschen’s One Second After, a novel set in Black Mountain, North Carolina,…
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‘Dead White Guys’ ideas still relevant
 

‘Dead White Guys’ ideas still relevant

Whatever our denominations or religious beliefs, many of us are familiar with the old adage of this season: “Peace on…
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King is spot on with new short story collection
 

King is spot on with new short story collection

Being a lifelong Stephen King fan, I have always been pleased to note that King is always keenly aware of…
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Irving still churning out sublime writing
 

Irving still churning out sublime writing

Avenue of Mysteries is John Irving’s fourteenth novel and it marks another amazing tale from an author who has been…
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Rash’s poetic prose infuses new novel
 

Rash’s poetic prose infuses new novel

“How near at hand it was If they had eyes to see it.” —G.M. Hopkins
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Four short reviews to help clear the desk
 

Four short reviews to help clear the desk

In the last month, my reading of books has outstripped my reviews. Consequently, stacks of books surround the desk at…
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Women writers who took me by the hand
 

Women writers who took me by the hand

Many readers — and I am one of them — are fascinated by books lists. There are scores of these…
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A post-apocalyptic world fuels sci-fi novel
 

A post-apocalyptic world fuels sci-fi novel

Back in the ‘60s, I went on a science fiction bender that lasted a decade.
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Let’s go surfin’ now …
 

Let’s go surfin’ now …

In a surfing genre memoir complete with a SurferMagazine, globe-trotting storyline, all set to a 1960s rock & roll soundtrack,…
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