Light-hearted take on life’s last lingering years
 

Light-hearted take on life’s last lingering years

I remember, I remember The house where I was born, The little window where the sun Came peeping in at…
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Homegrown poet spreads her wings
 

Homegrown poet spreads her wings

Rose McLarney grew up in rural Western North Carolina, where she continues to live on an old mountain farm. Daughter…
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Rash creates new genre of mountain western
 

Rash creates new genre of mountain western

Just when we all thought that Ron Rash had taken his Southern Appalachian noir novels to the limit with Serena,…
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Forgotten but not gone — emphasizing grammar
 

Forgotten but not gone — emphasizing grammar

Fifteen years ago, when I was the temporary teacher of Latin at Tuscola High School in Waynesville, I was discussing…
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Nature shines in Morgan poetry collection
 

Nature shines in Morgan poetry collection

To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the…
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Gossip and privacy in the modern world
 

Gossip and privacy in the modern world

Little Sally was eating lunch with her family when her parents ask her if she learned anything in Sunday School…
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Taking a trip down dark, violent passages
 

Taking a trip down dark, violent passages

This novel contains an endorsement from the late William Gay that tweaked my interest. I immediately bought the book. Gay…
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A newfound power in 20 minutes a day
 

A newfound power in 20 minutes a day

Twenty minutes a day. In early January, writing in my book column for this paper, I made a New Year’s…
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Book tells the story of a young boy’s journey
 

Book tells the story of a young boy’s journey

Fifteen-year-old Charlie Thompson is always hungry. Luckily, he is blessed with a high metabolism rate, so the excessive amounts of…
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How an enduring writer created himself
 

How an enduring writer created himself

There are many reasons to love the writing of Ray Bradbury. His early short stories — science fiction “lite,” tales…
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Book delves into a dark corner of our world
 

Book delves into a dark corner of our world

Thursday. Throughout this anguished and gripping tale, this day of the week, Thursday” is usually italicized, suggesting that it has…
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Some novels requires a certain tolerance
 

Some novels requires a certain tolerance

Recently I watched several early episodes of “Blue Bloods,” a fine television series centered on a New York family with…
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Well-crafted stories about the dark side of life
 

Well-crafted stories about the dark side of life

Several months ago, I reviewed Daniel Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone, and received an unusual number of responses from readers. In general,…
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Jane Austen decoded for men
 

Jane Austen decoded for men

Of female writers who appeal the least to the young men in my seminars, Jane Austen surely holds first place.…
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Intrigue, violence and opium in Oslo
 

Intrigue, violence and opium in Oslo

The Leopard marks the eighth crime novel featuring the chain-smoking alcoholic Inspector Harry Hole of the Oslo Police Department, an…
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Planning a year of purposeful reading
 

Planning a year of purposeful reading

The New Year’s resolution typically leads a short and tragic life. Its father is misdeeds, its mother remorse. Once born,…
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Separating the good guys from the bad
 

Separating the good guys from the bad

About 20 years ago, the book collector’s magazine “First” published an impressive article on George Pelecanos, a new writer that…
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A season to reconnect with familiar stories
 

A season to reconnect with familiar stories

That time of year has arrived when ritual and custom weave their magical threads into our lives. We sip Uncle…
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When it comes to books, here is what women want
 

When it comes to books, here is what women want

“What do women want?” During the month of December, Sigmund Freud’s famous question haunts the minds of many men. Unlike…
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Disturbing crime novel covers some dark ground
 

Disturbing crime novel covers some dark ground

Deer hunters call it “field dressing.” The dead deer is suspended head down from a sturdy tree limb and the…
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Selections for your favorite bibliophile
 

Selections for your favorite bibliophile

The rigors of holiday shopping are hard upon us, and bibliophiles, like everyone else, will turn their eyes toward bookshops,…
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A hunt for a murderer and some peace
 

A hunt for a murderer and some peace

I am a major Dan Simmons fan, but I had some reservations about signing on for this multi-layered, post-apocalyptic novel…
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A haunting look at Hemingway’s life with Pilar
 

A haunting look at Hemingway’s life with Pilar

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Ernest Hemingway’s death by suicide. He has remained, of course, an icon of…
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This is delicious, fast-paced crime fiction
 

This is delicious, fast-paced crime fiction

If you are one of those readers who has a grudging respect for outlaws, and if you find yourself sometimes…
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One a day helps her deal with the grief
 

One a day helps her deal with the grief

In recent years, a few individuals have taken on large reading projects and then written books of their own about…
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An intriguing, intricate tale with plenty of twists
 

An intriguing, intricate tale with plenty of twists

When I was a teenager, I became addicted to a late-night horror movie host named Bestoink Dooley. Based in Atlanta,…
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The past is not really past
 

The past is not really past

It is no secret that writers are influenced by authors whose work they admire. Though he would later turn his…
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Skippy Dies: The anguish of being young
 

Skippy Dies: The anguish of being young

Kind Hearts, this is an astonishing book. Frankly, I never would have read this one, if I had not blundered…
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A little American history could be enlightening
 

A little American history could be enlightening

Often the people, places, and things that we love most in this world become so familiar to us, so much…
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Frazier’s new novel a fast, good read
 

Frazier’s new novel a fast, good read

In a tale set to the tune of Johnny Ace’s “Never Let Me Go” that’s told as if shown through…
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A tribute to fishing and fish
 

A tribute to fishing and fish

In last week’s The Smoky Mountain News, Gary Carden began his review of Ron Rash’s collection of poems, Waking, by…
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Writing that transcends the mystery genre
 

Writing that transcends the mystery genre

The fierce Santa Ana winds that blow through southern California are as much a recurring character in The Triggerman’s Dance…
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Seek truth, good and beauty
 

Seek truth, good and beauty

According to recent polls, Americans are angry. They are angry about the economy, about the role of government in their…
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Rash’s new book of poetry evocative, resonant
 

Rash’s new book of poetry evocative, resonant

When I was nine years old, I once caught a 12-inch brown trout at the point where two small Jackson…
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John Still’s posthumous novel ‘heart-rending’
 

John Still’s posthumous novel ‘heart-rending’

When I was a child riding the backroads of Western North Carolina with my grandfather in his big red Esso…
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McCullough makes 19th century Paris come alive
 

McCullough makes 19th century Paris come alive

“At last I have come into a dreamland.” So wrote Harriet Beecher Stowe shortly after her arrival in Paris in…
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A collection of dark plots and twisted characters
 

A collection of dark plots and twisted characters

Back in 1987, a young West Virginia writer, Pinckney Benedict, published a highly lauded collection of short stories entitled Town…
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A sharp portrait of love, friendship and sisterhood
 

A sharp portrait of love, friendship and sisterhood

Danielle Ganek’s The Summer We Read Gatsby (ISBN 978-0-670-02178-9, $28.95) tells the story of two half-sisters, Cassie, a translator for…
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Mysterious tribe’s tale
 

Mysterious tribe’s tale

This remarkable book has two protagonists. One is a learned, sophisticated (and somewhat jaded) scholar who has decided to spend…
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Liberals: Demonic or Liberating
 

Liberals: Demonic or Liberating

“Look left and right, and be careful.” Your mother probably said those words to you when you were learning to…
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Murder, sex and celebrities — 1920 style
 

Murder, sex and celebrities — 1920 style

Well, kind hearts, as they used to say back in the Jazz Age, this one is “the bee’s knees.” Set…
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A new take on the Paris of the ‘20s
 

A new take on the Paris of the ‘20s

Paris in the 1920s attracted multitudes of American writers and artists. Drawn to France by a sense of adventure, by…
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Anti-hero investigator brings tension to thriller
 

Anti-hero investigator brings tension to thriller

Jo Nesbo’s protagonist, Inspector Harry Hole, is a daunting piece of work. A chain-smoking manic depressive and an alcoholic, Harry’s…
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Father’s Day picks for the reader
 

Father’s Day picks for the reader

Father’s Day, the third Sunday of June and so falls this year on June 19, sports a peculiar history. Although…
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The story of a modern-day oracle
 

The story of a modern-day oracle

Occasionally, books are published in the U. S. that can best be described as “oddities” which acquire a kind of…
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C.S. Lewis’ love story and its lessons
 

C.S. Lewis’ love story and its lessons

Nearly 50 years have passed the death of C.S. Lewis — he died of illness in 1963 on the same…
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A thinking person’s crime novel
 

A thinking person’s crime novel

Kind hearts, allow me to introduce Police Detective, Harry Hole. Let me warn you in advance, he is an alcoholic…
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Book falls flat in telling of Hemingway
 

Book falls flat in telling of Hemingway

So ends Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, his memoir of his years as a young writer in Paris. This book…
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An agnostic searches for answers
 

An agnostic searches for answers

For Christians, Easter is a moveable feast day — this year the celebration fell about as late in the spring…
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Holman’s novel dubbed compelling, tantalizing
 

Holman’s novel dubbed compelling, tantalizing

When I was a teenager, I became addicted to a late-night horror movie host named Bestoink Dooley. Based in Atlanta,…
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