Horrific twister is catalyst for insightful novel

It was April 5, 1936, Palm Sunday, about nine o’clock in the evening. People were tidying up their kitchens, strolling…
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Sucking the marrow out of a great word

What’s in a name? In You Are A Badass: How To Stop Doubting Your Greatness And Start Living An Awesome…
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A strange mix of books crosses my desk

The first weeks of 2018 have seen some offbeat books shamble across my desk and into my fingers. First up…
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A tribute to the Lord of Scaly Mountain

While it is difficult to write objectively yet critically about someone whom you know personally or about a book whose…
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Grief and redemption in the wilds of Wyoming

I fled him down the nights and down the days; I fled him down the arches of the years; I…
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Grandfather Mountain’s story makes for fascinating book

Dreamers and schemers. Andre Michaux and Daniel Boone. Yankees and Confederates. Hugh Morton. The mile-high swinging bridge. Tweetsie Railroad. Singing…
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Local histories serve important purpose

For the past two centuries, local historians and writers in England have produced a large number of municipal and county…
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Insightful books to kick off the new year

In early January, I sat with two friends in a café discussing the New Year. We were all coming off…
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The devil is all over this dark tale

Since Luke Bauserman is a folklorist, it is safe to say that many of his characters already exist; some have…
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Mountain in the clouds: a new year’s resolution

There it stood on a sale table, all 11 volumes lined up tight and orderly as cadets on parade, Will…
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Fitzgerald biography looks at his vision of America

“That is the land of lost content, I see it shining plain, The happy highways where I went And cannot…
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Novel whisks one back to the prairie

Sometimes joy and beauty strike like thunderbolts. One minute we are going about our daily routine, minding our own business,…
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Forget the frenzy, settle in with a book

For many of us, Christmas preparations require the endurance of a marathoner and the speed of a lab rat on…
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Plott hounds hold unique place in WNC history

I had my first encounter with a prize-winning Plott hound several years ago when I was hosting a Liars Bench…
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Thanks to the librarian who ordered this book

How did this happen? I treasure my local public library for its friendly staff, its vibrant programs for my grandchildren,…
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Character has one foot in earth, the other in paradise

Michael D. O’Brien, Canadian novelist and painter, essayist and lecturer, is the author of what I call “door-stop” books. His…
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Masterful work by one of our great writers

A number of Mark Helprin’s works — Winter’s Tale, Memoir From Antproof Case, and more — have appeared on the…
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Book of poetry has a disturbing beauty

If the saying “timing is everything” is true, then John Lane’s new collection of poems by Mercer University Press is…
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New book delves into ‘Death of Europe’

Recently I came across an online article on Powerline regarding French president Emmanuel Macron. I knew little of President Macron,…
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A keen eye for France, and great recipes

Elizabeth Bard’s Lunch In Paris: A Love Story, With Recipes (Little, Brown and Company, 2010, 324 pages) offers readers both…
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My list of notable books set in WNC

This past summer, I reviewed The Leader’s Bookshelf for The Smoky Mountain News. After seven years of interviewing many of…
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Books that transcend the divisiveness

From Thanksgiving dinners to football games, from the floors of Congress to Joe’s Bar & Grill, from universities to kindergartens,…
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Miss Julia’s saga is well worth the read

Miss Julia Springer lives in a small town near Asheville, where she is mourning the death of her husband of…
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A fine novel and worthwhile history lesson

Because Dr. Hood was only one of five professors in Guilford College’s history department, and because history was my major,…
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Making memories, one trip at a time

After reading Doug Woodward’s book You Took the Kids WHERE? and as I write these words, it is still officially…
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Book celebrates ‘all things Appalachian’

Some four years ago, I reviewed Matthew Baker’s first book, My Appalachian Granny, a delightful collection of anecdotes, photographs and…
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A predictable story of love, but one well told

It is late in the day, and 60-year-old Marianne Messmann of Germany stands on the Pont Neuf in Paris. She…
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None too likeable characters, but a good story

Alcohol, alcoholism, and alcoholics appear frequently in literature. Shakespeare’s Falstaff is a son of Bacchus. Lawrence Block’s Matthew Scudder and…
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Book delves into our lingering racial problems

“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war…
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Finding meaning in a disordered world

Rod Dreher’s The Benedict Option: A Strategy For Christians In A Post-Christian Nation (Penguin Random House, 2017, 255 pages) has…
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Searching for the 60s

If you are one of those people who thinks that the 1960s hippie culture was only about sex, drugs and…
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Clearing the desk: Part II

In my last review, I mentioned the need to reduce a pile of books I’d read, all of them, new…
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Time to clear the desk, part one

Time to clear the decks — or in my case, the desk. For whatever reason — to escape our poisonous…
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A friendship forged in faith helped change the world

On Nov. 5, 2001, not quite two months after the 9/11 attacks, Lech Walesa spoke at Western Carolina University. Walesa…
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Beaches and great mysteries go hand in hand

For many people, summer means vacation, and vacation means beach. For readers, the beach in turn means packing books to…
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In praise of the local library

Some people are devotees of whiskey, cigars, wine, and craft beer. Some are aficionados of the fine arts, experts on…
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Music from inside the Great Pyramid

Looking for something unique and different? Then I’ve got something for you.
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Hewson’s mysteries should come with a warning

So a friend thrusts a book into your hands and tells you, “You gotta read this one. I know you’ll…
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Understanding how to disagree and still respect

Nineteenth century poet Walt Whitman once wrote “I hear America singing.” Ah, those were the days.
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Wit, wisdom and a walk around New York City

It is 1926, and Lillian Boxfish, mid-20s and ambitious, arrives in Manhattan, where she lands a job working for the…
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A memoir written in songs and poems

In his Preface to Love Songs For A Country Lane, country music icon Chris Gantry writes: “Grant King was a…
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A fresh look into an enduring classic

After finishing the last pages of Libertarians On The Prairie: Laura Ingalls Wilder, Rose Wilder Lane, and the Making of…
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Need I say more? The power of wit

When verbally attacked and left speechless by an assailant, who among us has not long afterwards pondered the mot juste…
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A desperate tale, beautifully written

“And if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry And satisfy the needs of the oppressed, Then your light will…
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Pondering the power of forgiveness

In Charles Martin’s novel A Life Intercepted (Center Street Publishers, 2014, 326 pages), college senior Matthew “the Rocket” Rising has…
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The Final Day brings Forstche’s trilogy to a close

In 2011, William Forstchen’s apocalyptic novel, One Second After, appeared on best-seller lists. After reading for review this story of…
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An ancient story well told

In Jennifer Frick-Ruppert’s statement of intent at the back of her book, The Legend of Skyco, she states “While this…
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David Joy’s new book is a dark gem

Just after I bought The Weight of the World, I ran into an old friend of mine who is extremely…
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Pour me a glass of great words, and let’s party

Having given up listening to the dreadful music and talk shows available in my car radio, last week I popped…
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Books always make a thoughtful gift

You’re stuck.  It’s your boss’ birthday, your nephew’s graduation from high school, your cousin’s promotion at work, and you need…
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