The Coronavirus and The Smoky Mountain News

No book review today.  But please read this column.
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Confession is good for the soul

Some bare their souls to priests and ministers. Some seek out therapists and counselors. Some look for help from friends…
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Early spring cleaning turns up some gems

Time to do some early spring cleaning and rid my desk of some books for review. Caitlin Doughty, mortician and…
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A legend re-told: the story of Crazy Horse

On Feb. 8, William B. Matson and members of the Clown/Crazy Horse family were scheduled to give a talk at…
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Rest in peace, Mary Higgins Clark

She died at the age of 92 in January 2020 in Naples, Florida. Renowned for her beauty when young, she…
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A sea journey well-told

I’m on page 289 of a 308-page book by Brian Doyle called The Plover and am having fun. The book…
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Heads up gents: last-minute tips for Valentine’s

No book review this week. Just some last minute advice for men about the Feast of Love. It’s V-Day, guys;…
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Exuberant English and forgotten riches

What kind of a nut writes a play about antiquity using blank verse, sentences as convoluted as any in Shakespeare,…
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The great and fallen artists

A New York Times Op-Ed recently asked, “Is It Time Gauguin Got Canceled?” It raised this question of banishing Gauguin…
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Keep calm, stay quiet and carry on

Stillness. Silence. For many people, stillness and silence are as unfamiliar — and terrifying — as zombies or Martians.  When…
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Rich rewards: a review of The Enchanted Hour

Though I read aloud with my children and do so now with my grandchildren, I have rarely done so with…
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Beating back the January Blues

Ugh. The skies are gray, the wind’s a knife, the dank cold crawls into your very bones, and spring seems…
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Memoir of illness full of gallantry and wit

“It was crazy. The surgeon told me the tumor was the size of a pear, which is scary but also…
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The story of a Beat original

Once upon a time there was a poet named Bob Kaufman. He hadn’t spoken in anything resembling normal language in…
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Last-minute holiday ideas for the literary

You’re down to the wire. It’s only a few days until Christmas, and you have yet to get that book…
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Walking ancient pathways with a gifted writer

Growing up, one of my favorite books was H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine. In Robert MacFarlane’s The Old Ways, instead…
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Children’s books and thoughts for the holidays

Time to head off to Santa’s workshop and see what Christmas books he and the elves have in mind for…
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Learning to listen: A review of Chris Arnade’s Dignity

Back in the mid-1970s, I was working as a receiving clerk at the Old Corner Bookstore in Boston. I was…
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Passionate about print: a review of A Literate South

For many years, most of us who read histories and biographies about America between 1800 and 1865 assumed the seat…
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Rethinking school: book offers sage suggestions

If you have school-age children, by now they are two months or more into their routine of classes, books, extracurricular…
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A look at The Best Loved Poems of the American People

Two years ago in December, I vowed to read the 11-volume set of Will and Ariel Durant’s The Story of…
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A saint among us: a new Thomas Berry biography

I was one of the lucky ones. I met and befriended Thomas Berry on Earth Day in the late 1980s…
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Another casualty: A review of A Boy Who Mattered

In January 2019, the National Institute on Drug Abuse issued an updated report on the use of opioids in the…
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‘Lost Words and Obstacles:’ a review

“When the most recent edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary — widely used in schools around the world — was…
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Learning American history through songs

In February 2019, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation released the results of a nationwide poll of 41,000 Americans testing…
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Ways of escape: Backlash and Game of Snipers

A recent review was of Abbi Waxman’s The Bookish Life of Nina Hill, a romantic comedy with sweet and wry…
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Humor, mystery and a wonderful menagerie of characters

Although migrations have become a significant and controversial aspect of our current history, there is another annual migration that has…
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A complicated story that’s worth reading

Ever have those days when you’re running against the wind, sprinting through the minutes and hours, arms and legs pumping…
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‘Any Other Place’ provides lessons in living

Literature at its best is a fast-track course in human nature. From Shakespeare we can, if we are attentive, learn…
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Book has important lessons, links to bygone era

In Ancient Rome, the Senate awarded a general who had won a great victory with a triumph, a parade that…
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A reminder: leave something good behind

Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly won my admiration long ago. I purchased my copy from Asheville’s…
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The Great Escape? Read a book

July had come and gone, a month filled with obligations, all of them good, but exhaustion walked hand in hand…
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A fine first novel exploring loneliness

Loneliness. Even the word, standing that way by itself, smacks of the pitifully sad and alone, forlorn.
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A stirring story of America’s push west

Sometimes we open a book, slip into its pages, and find ourselves the recipients of three wonderful gifts: information and…
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A few good books about old times

In 1960, when I was in elementary school, the pop group Dante & the Evergreens rocked my young ears with…
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Trying to define Appalachia and the South

Who speaks for Appalachia? That is the question implicit in Appalachian Reckoning: A Region Responds to Hillbilly Elegy (West Virginia…
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Book examines stark example of racism

On February 12, 1946, just hours after his discharge from the Army, Sergeant Isaac Woodard got into an argument with…
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Writing to heal the wounds of war

June 2019 marks the twentieth anniversary of The Smoky Mountain News. At the party celebrating this landmark in the paper’s…
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Which way is the wilderness?

The theme of Brent Martin’s new book of essays — The Changing Blue Ridge Mountains — is “It’s a good…
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Books helps us understand our own history

“We need to know what kind of firm ground other men, belonging to generations before us, have found to stand…
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Loving every word of it, all 630,000

Let’s start with some basic mathematics. For 20 years, I have reviewed books for The Smoky Mountain News. For some…
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Sense of place is crucial to Hewson’s novels

Some novelists display a real talent for capturing a place in words and then bringing that “little postage stamp of…
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A story of people becoming real

“Only connect.” Though that line from E.M. Forster’s Howard’s End refers to human love and passion, his words also seem…
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Apollo missions were propelled by a bold vision

July 20, 1969. This summer marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin…
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A book for those who love books

Yes! Yes! YES! YES! Lest you think I am wallowing in some bed of literoticism or celebrating Molly Bloom from…
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Reading aloud is good medicine for all

Here are two books about books, one aimed at amusement, the other at instruction. Or so they were written and…
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A worthwhile book on raising children

Much is made these days of “snowflakes,” slang for some of our young people. One online source defines snowflakes as…
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A master in our midst

Michael Revere grew up here in these mountains. He went to college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel…
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Events for readers and writers
 

Events for readers and writers

Salvation sought through moonshine  Terry Roberts will present his new novel The Holy Ghost and Speakeasy and Revival at 3…
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A visit to the library and some amazing finds

On my last visit to the public library, I picked up Kathryn Sermak’s Miss D & Me: Life With The…
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