A ‘writer’s writer’ delves into 1929 explosion
 

A ‘writer’s writer’ delves into 1929 explosion

I am convinced that author Daniel Woodrell is what is frequently referred to as “a writer’s writer.” In other words,…
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Some old-fashioned lessons for living
 

Some old-fashioned lessons for living

Google books on parenting, and you will find thousands — tens of thousands — of titles. There are books on…
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A warts and all biography of a WNC original
 

A warts and all biography of a WNC original

I first encountered Robert Henry’s name some 30 years ago in Lyman Draper’s account of the Battle of Kings Mountain…
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Jim Harrison keeps churning out quality writing
 

Jim Harrison keeps churning out quality writing

Jim Harrison is an American phenomenon. Not only has he written more than 30 books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction…
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Another AT book, but a new set of lessons
 

Another AT book, but a new set of lessons

An online visit reveals hundreds of books written on hiking the Appalachian Trail. These range from Bill Bryson’s A Walk…
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New Burke novel is not to be
 

New Burke novel is not to be

In Light of the World (ISBN 978-1-4767-1076-1, $27.99), James Lee Burke once again gives readers writing cut and polished like…
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The lost West in all its violent glory
 

The lost West in all its violent glory

I have always had a fondness for great, sprawling epics, especially if they chronicle the downfall of a family/dynasty that acquired…
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A realistic, refreshing look at teaching
 

A realistic, refreshing look at teaching

For most students, parents, and teachers, autumn rather than spring is the season of budding growth, new life, and hope.
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Carden’s new book depicts Appalachian bestiary
 

Carden’s new book depicts Appalachian bestiary

By Newton Smith • Contributor Gary Carden, local bard, playwright, host of the Liars Bench and reviewer for The Smoky Mountain…
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Miracles and the miraculous in everyday life
 

Miracles and the miraculous in everyday life

Every once in a while, we encounter a situation so strange and so far removed from the natural order of…
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Tragic realism makes for a riveting read
 

Tragic realism makes for a riveting read

Let me begin by saying that this is a remarkable novel, and I suspect that it will be around for…
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Prickly but also extremely insightful
 

Prickly but also extremely insightful

On June 24, 1993, David Gelernter, then an associate professor of computer science at Yale University, opened a package in…
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Novel covers death, love, and all points in between
 

Novel covers death, love, and all points in between

Priscille Sibley’s The Promise of Stardust (ISBN 978-0-06-219417-6, 399 pages, $15.99) is a fine first novel by a woman who…
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Dad is Fat, and comical truths about child rearing
 

Dad is Fat, and comical truths about child rearing

Thirty some years ago, my wife and I announced to my mother that we were expecting our first child. After…
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The hard truth about the Cold War
 

The hard truth about the Cold War

We Americans like to sidle around the truth nowadays, which we do by labeling ourselves relativists. Like Pontius Pilate, we…
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Crowe wins prestigious poetry award
 

Crowe wins prestigious poetry award

Tuckasegee poet Thomas Crowe won the George Scarborough Prize for Poetry during the recent Mountain Heritage Literary Festival at Lincoln…
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Oil thicker than blood in Texas
 

Oil thicker than blood in Texas

Reviewers of Philipp Meyer’s new novel, The Son (ISBN 978-0-06-212039-7, 561 pages, $27.99) have compared his epic story of the…
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Kingsbury gives us a comfortable summer read
 

Kingsbury gives us a comfortable summer read

In The Bridge (ISBN 978-1-4516-4701-3, $19.99), Karen Kingsbury treats readers to a tale of romance and tribulation centered on a…
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King’s Joyland set in eastern North Carolina
 

King’s Joyland set in eastern North Carolina

There is something about carnivals, amusement parks and shoddy summer circus operations that inspire a special kind of supernatural tale.…
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The power of books to change lives
 

The power of books to change lives

Here are the true stories of some young people, all of them still under the age of 35. For the…
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Morgan conjures the past with a poet skill
 

Morgan conjures the past with a poet skill

Robert Morgan has a rare and cunning gift: he can sift through the detritus of the past, pluck objects and…
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A book to help wade through self-help industry
 

A book to help wade through self-help industry

In The Last Self-Help Book You’ll Ever Need: Repress Your Anger, Think Negatively, Be a Good Blamer, and Throttle Your…
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A story of violence and race in small-town N.C.
 

A story of violence and race in small-town N.C.

My decision to read this “docudrama” (part memoir, part history and part detective story) was prompted by my genuine wish…
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A fast look at a few worthwhile tomes
 

A fast look at a few worthwhile tomes

Here they are, books yammering for review: a hillock of books on the floor by the desk; more books stacked…
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Dobyns novel reveals small town underbelly
 

Dobyns novel reveals small town underbelly

Stephen Dobyns has written 20 novels and more than 10 volumes of poetry; however, he is difficult to “classify.” His writing…
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A rural bookstore that beat the odds
 

A rural bookstore that beat the odds

“Bookshops are magic.” This quotation, buried in the middle of Wendy Welch’s The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap: A…
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For your culinary and reading pleasure
 

For your culinary and reading pleasure

Most booklovers have suffered that “Oh, no” moment when a friend, with nothing but the best of intentions, presses an…
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Tension-soaked novel is one of Appalachia’s best
 

Tension-soaked novel is one of Appalachia’s best

Mark Powell’s The Dark Corner is probably the best Appalachian novel that I have read in the last decade. It is…
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History of Cherokee War is top notch
 

History of Cherokee War is top notch

We Americans sometimes forget how new we are to the history of the world. Here in Western North Carolina, for…
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Movies, book explore travails of Memphis Three
 

Movies, book explore travails of Memphis Three

They were known as the West Memphis Three: Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr., three teenagers who were accused…
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To bee or not to be
 

To bee or not to be

With its title Colony Collapse Disorder taken from a recent mysterious collapse of honeybee populations in North America, Keith Flynn’s…
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The unforgettable life of Nancy Silver
 

The unforgettable life of Nancy Silver

Recently, when I was surfing through a depressing collection of nighttime TV programs — religious rants, psychics, cooking shows and…
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An insightful look at guerilla warfare
 

An insightful look at guerilla warfare

Since the Second World War, Americans have lived by the old dictum that only the dead have seen the end…
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Rash’s Appalachia is both rich and flawed
 

Rash’s Appalachia is both rich and flawed

Ron Rash’s latest collection of short stories echos a theme that runs through all of his works: an awareness that Appalachia…
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Final volume of Churchill biography a long-awaited gem
 

Final volume of Churchill biography a long-awaited gem

William Manchester, author of a number of best-selling books, including The Death of A President, American Caesar, and Goodbye, Darkness,…
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1967 novel sheds light on obscure mass drowning
 

1967 novel sheds light on obscure mass drowning

In recent years, I have become interested in an obscure incident that occurred in Jackson County in 1882 — the…
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To be (born) or not to be
 

To be (born) or not to be

Since reading Ben Wattenberg’s The Birth Dearth 25 years ago, the subject of demography has fascinated me. This past week…
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Another look at Wolfe
 

Another look at Wolfe

Thomas Wolfe: An Illustrated Biography by Ted Mitchell. Pegasus Books, 2007. 341 pages. Thirty-three years ago this month, at the…
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Zombie lore, one bite at a time
 

Zombie lore, one bite at a time

If you are literate and moderately aware of what passes for entertainment in film, popular novels and comics, then you…
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Literature deprived
 

Literature deprived

Certain genres of literature fare better when critically judged by the standards of that particular genre rather than by any…
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Kerouac still matters, though the perspective has shifted
 

Kerouac still matters, though the perspective has shifted

Of all the Beat writers of the 1940s and 1950s — Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, John Clellon Holmes, Gary Snyder,…
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Historian presents a factual story of Cleopatra
 

Historian presents a factual story of Cleopatra

“Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.” — Cicero, 106 B.C. Stacy…
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An America divided by class
 

An America divided by class

For the past 80 years more and more Americans have linked themselves economically to the machinations of the federal government.…
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Uncompromising, dark and a worthwhile read
 

Uncompromising, dark and a worthwhile read

A couple of years ago, I blundered into something called “The Bottom Dog Appalachian Writers Series.” Published in Ohio, this…
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Half-price sale at Friends of the Library bookstore in Sylva
 

Half-price sale at Friends of the Library bookstore in Sylva

A half-price book sale will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19 and from noon to…
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Novel explores the woes of rich white trash
 

Novel explores the woes of rich white trash

Let me take a deep breath and see if I can get this out in one long ugly sentence:  A…
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Author to discuss AT journey
 

Author to discuss AT journey

Writer Amy Allen will discuss her journey along the Appalachian Trail as she presents her book, Summoning the Mountains: Pilgrimage…
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Racism and adultery drive Spencer’s novel
 

Racism and adultery drive Spencer’s novel

Daniel Emerson is afraid of black people. After a chance encounter with a group of violent African American teenagers left…
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Re-discovering a child’s outlook and a sense of humor
 

Re-discovering a child’s outlook and a sense of humor

Although its publisher marketed Robert Munsch’s Love You Forever as a children’s book, this touching story of a mother’s love…
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Bringing out the horror of teen angst
 

Bringing out the horror of teen angst

In recent years, there has been a kind of Swedish literary invasion in America, especially in the horror genre. Perhaps…
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