Taking readers down a deep spiral
 

Taking readers down a deep spiral

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Penguin Books, 2005. 487 pagesLet’s begin with a marvelous story —…
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Bring poetry to the people
 

Bring poetry to the people

“April is the cruelest of months, breeding/ lilacs out of the dead land” — so wrote T.S. Eliot in the…
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A modern take on Chaucer’s classic
 

A modern take on Chaucer’s classic

eoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales: a Retelling by Peter Ackroyd. Viking Press, 2009. 436 pages Being an old English teacher,…
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Obsessing over grammar
 

Obsessing over grammar

Twelve years ago, while teaching Latin at a local high school, I was discussing a point of grammar — I…
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Literary journal honors contemporary literature from the Cherokee community
 

Literary journal honors contemporary literature from the Cherokee community

Readers will be in for a surprise when thumbing through the pages of the all-Cherokee issue of Appalachian Heritage literary…
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Hill recreates horror that dad Stephen King perfected
 

Hill recreates horror that dad Stephen King perfected

Horns by Joe Hill. William Morrow Publishers, 2010. 370 pages. Ignatius William Perrish (“Iggy” to his friends) awoke one morning…
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Exploring the legacy of Ayn Rand
 

Exploring the legacy of Ayn Rand

In Ayn Rand and the World She Made (ISBN 978-0-385-51399-9, Doubleday, 568 pages, $35), Anne C. Heller has given readers…
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A requiem for Cataloochee
 

A requiem for Cataloochee

Requiem by Fire by Wayne Caldwell. Random House, 2009. 335 pages Dear readers, if you have some slight respect for…
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A guidebook for raising boys
 

A guidebook for raising boys

Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys by Stephen James and David Thomas. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2009. 368 pages.…
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One fateful night
 

One fateful night

The Turnaround by George Pelecanos. Little, Brown and Company, 2009. 320 pages On a sweltering summer night in 1972, three…
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A book about beer, food, and Gnometown cooking
 

A book about beer, food, and Gnometown cooking

Cooking with wine is familiar. Cajun chef Justin Wilson, one of television’s first real food celebrities, liberally tipped Chablis into…
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Power struggle
 

Power struggle

Enemy of God by Bernard Cornwell. Saint Martins Press, 1998. 397 pages Several years ago, when I was reading everything…
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Fitzgerald comes to life in Asheville
 

Fitzgerald comes to life in Asheville

The Fitzgerald Ruse by Mark De Castrique. Poisoned Pen Press, 2009. 250 pages. Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, and magazines like…
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An American original
 

An American original

Devil’s Dream by Madison Smartt Bell. Pantheon, 2009. 352 pages. Although several biographies of Nathan Bedford Forrest have found publishers…
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A different take on a legend
 

A different take on a legend

The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell. Saint Martin’s Press, 1997. I was probably 10 years old when I discovered King…
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A tale of both despair and hope
 

A tale of both despair and hope

Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath by Elizabeth and Michael Norman. Farrar,…
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Suspenseful guest drives novel
 

Suspenseful guest drives novel

For some 30 years now, Bernard Cornwell has been one of the most prolific writers in the western hemisphere. With…
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Characters mirror SMN readers
 

Characters mirror SMN readers

Rain Gods by James Lee Burke. Simon and Schuster, 2009. 448 pages. Readers of this column know that some authors…
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Dickens’ backstabbing best friend explores London’s underworld
 

Dickens’ backstabbing best friend explores London’s underworld

Drood by Dan Simmons. Little, Brown & Company, 2009. 775 pages. I must admit, I’ve never been much of a…
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Love and sonnets meet in Shakespeare’s Italy
 

Love and sonnets meet in Shakespeare’s Italy

The Sonnet Lover by Carol Goodman. Ballantine Books, 2007. 368 pages. In The Sonnet Lover (Ballantine Books, ISBN 978-0-345-47957-0, $24.95),…
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Savagery taints classic town in King’s new novel
 

Savagery taints classic town in King’s new novel

Under the Dome by Stephen King. Scribner, 2009. 1,074 pages Before I had read 20 pages of Stephen King’s new…
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Of golf, relationships and life
 

Of golf, relationships and life

A Son of the Game: A Story of Golf, Going Home, and Sharing Life’s Lessons by James Dodson. Algonquin Books,…
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Judgment day arrives
 

Judgment day arrives

The Cleansing by Ben Eller. Fireside Publications, 2009. 292 pages In Ben Eller’s science fiction novel, The Cleansing, (2020), progress…
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Eli Book takes us back to a nostalgic time
 

Eli Book takes us back to a nostalgic time

Eli the Good by Silas House. Candlewick Press, 2009. 295 pages Eli Book, the 10-year-old narrator/protagonist of Silas House’s new…
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Typical Zombie fare
 

Typical Zombie fare

If you are a fan of the apocalypse movies that are currently common fare in American theaters, you will immediately…
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Ivey’s ‘Up River’ offers valuable lessons
 

Ivey’s ‘Up River’ offers valuable lessons

Up River: A Novel of Attempted Restoration by George Ivey. Dog Year, 2009. 304 Pages. George Ivey’s Up River: A…
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A peculiar angst
 

A peculiar angst

Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book by Walker Percy. Picador, 2000. 272 pages. Walker Percy not only wrote…
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Whimsical tales defy explanation
 

Whimsical tales defy explanation

Willful Creatures Stories by Aimee Bender. Doubleday & Company, 2005. 208 pages Recently, Garrison Keilor mentioned a new writer, Aimee…
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A memoir about misguided parents
 

A memoir about misguided parents

Lies My Mother Never Told Me by Kaylie Jones. William Morrow, 2009. 284 pages Memoirs by children of famous people…
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Kephart’s novel a time capsule from bygone era
 

Kephart’s novel a time capsule from bygone era

Among the varied “revelations” brought to light during the celebrations attending the 75th Anniversary of the Great Smoky Mountains National…
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Rebellion reigns in historical novel
 

Rebellion reigns in historical novel

Devil’s Brood: The Last Days of the Tempestuous Marriage of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine by Sharon Kay Penman.…
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Film highlights Asheville’s many offerings
 

Film highlights Asheville’s many offerings

“The Spirit of Asheville” (video) by Arthur Hancock and Katie Brugger. Time Capsule Video: Highlands. Running Time: 73 minutes. The…
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Entering the mind of a terrorist
 

Entering the mind of a terrorist

First up for review this week is Piers Paul Read’s The Death of a Pope (Ignatius Press, ISBN 978-1-58617-295-4), the…
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The dark side of the Romantics
 

The dark side of the Romantics

The Monsters: Mary Shelley and the Curse of Frankenstein by Dorothy and Thomas Hobbler. Little, Brown and Company. 374 pages.…
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Vivid descriptions fail to save flawed book
 

Vivid descriptions fail to save flawed book

South of Broad by Pat Conroy. Nan A. Talese, 2009. 528 pages. In his latest novel, South of Broad (ISBN…
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A force of lyrical storytelling
 

A force of lyrical storytelling

Tender Graces by Kathryn Magendie. Bell Bridge Books, 2009. 315 pages Some of the most poignant passages in literature are…
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Goodman’s second ‘classics’ story
 

Goodman’s second ‘classics’ story

The Night Villa by Carol Goodman. Ballantine Books, 2008. 413 pages. Over the last decade, Carol Goodman has rightly earned…
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Oxford American: The best magazine ever
 

Oxford American: The best magazine ever

There aren’t many things that cause my weary heart to quicken. The local bookstore, Netflix, rain crows and, yes, the…
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Mountain granny comes to life in book by former WCU student
 

Mountain granny comes to life in book by former WCU student

Former WCU student Matthew Link Baker will read from his new book, My Mountain Granny: The Story of Evelyn Howell…
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Particular parables and perverse ponderings
 

Particular parables and perverse ponderings

Willful Creatures Stories by Aimee Bender. Doubleday & Company. 208 pages. Recently, Garrison Keilor mentioned a new writer, Aimee Bender…
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Toole explores boxing from inside the ring
 

Toole explores boxing from inside the ring

Pound for Pound by F.X. Toole. HarperCollins, 2007. 416 pages. Million Dollar Baby by F.X. Toole. Harper Perennial 2005. 256…
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Don West’s affinity for Appalachia
 

Don West’s affinity for Appalachia

A Hard Journey by James J. Lorence. University of Illinois Press, 2009. 344 pages. Once on a warm, summer afternoon…
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Chick-lit at its finest
 

Chick-lit at its finest

Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Pattillo. Guideposts, 2009. 288 pages Art and literary whodunits are so plentiful these…
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Take a chance on Ravens
 

Take a chance on Ravens

When a friend sent me an advanced reading copy of Ravens with a note that said, “There is no one…
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Freaks and morality
 

Freaks and morality

Flannery: A Life of Flannery O’Connor by Brad Gooch. Little, Brown and Company, 2009. 464 pages. “Whenever I am asked…
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Humanizing literature
 

Humanizing literature

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Dial Press. 277 pages For…
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Snippets from a poet’s life
 

Snippets from a poet’s life

Fall of Frost by Brian Hall. Penguin Group, 2008. 352 pages Since his death in 1963, Robert Frost has come…
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Recreating the past with nostalgic
 

Recreating the past with nostalgic

Remembering Henderson County by Louise Bailey. History Press, 2005. 144 pages. In Louise Bailey’s Remembering Henderson County, the author recreates…
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Former Mountaineer publisher puts together Aleutian book
 

Former Mountaineer publisher puts together Aleutian book

Photographer Ken Wilson of Waynesville recently published his first book, The Aleutian Islands of Alaska, Living on the Edge. The…
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Patriot’s story is unflinching, honest
 

Patriot’s story is unflinching, honest

American Patriot: The Life and Wars of Colonel Bud Day by Robert Coram. Little, Brown and Company, 2007. Robert Coram’s…
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