Chick lit, chauvinism and modern Ireland
 

Chick lit, chauvinism and modern Ireland

Whitethorn Woods by Maeve Binchy. Knopf, 2007. 352 pages. Recently my sister asked me if I had met anyone, which…
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What is wrong with teaching in the US?
 

What is wrong with teaching in the US?

In 1991, 30-year veteran and master teacher John Taylor Gatto resigned immediately after being named “Teacher of the Year” in…
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Intersection of American minds
 

Intersection of American minds

American Bloomsbury by Susan Cheever. Simon & Schuster, 2006. 240 pages Susan Cheever, novelist, critic, and writer of acclaimed memoirs…
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Life in the midst of change
 

Life in the midst of change

A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas. Harcourt, 2006. 192 pages A blurb on the front cover of Abigail Thomas’…
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A taste for noir
 

A taste for noir

Wild to Possess and A Taste for Sin by Gil Brewer. Stark House Press, 2006. One of the great delights…
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Burning down the house
 

Burning down the house

An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England by Brock Clarke. Algonquin Books, 2007. 305 pages. Some writers come…
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Put your money on Saratoga Fleshpot
 

Put your money on Saratoga Fleshpot

Murdering Americans by Ruth Dudley Edwards. Poisoned Pen Press, 2007. 236 pages. Skewering the politically correct codes of our colleges…
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Heading Home waffles but New Stories shines
 

Heading Home waffles but New Stories shines

Choosing the genre in which to write is, of course, a major factor in the success with which we communicate…
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Harry — The boy who lived
 

Harry — The boy who lived

By Katie Polonsky I’m a firm believer that when reading a novel, you bring to it the whole of your…
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Book Mania: Showcasing some up-and-coming writers
 

Book Mania: Showcasing some up-and-coming writers

Cataloochee by Wayne Caldwell. Random House, 2007. 368 pages Readers planning to attend Book Mania in Waynesville have several treats…
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Deer hunting in the twilight of American culture
 

Deer hunting in the twilight of American culture

The Twilight of American Culture by Morris Berman. W. W. Norton & Company, 2001. 224 pages. When I think of…
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Author’s bias shows through
 

Author’s bias shows through

What’s Liberal About The Liberal Arts? Classroom Politics and “Bias” in Higher Education by Michael Berube. W. W. Norton, 2006.…
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Summertime and the reading’s hazy
 

Summertime and the reading’s hazy

On the Road by Jack Kerouac. Penguin Classics. 310 pages Summertime, and the living is easy ... For most of…
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A Frank look back
 

A Frank look back

From Violins to Violence: A Memoir by Marshall Frank. Fortis Book, 2007. 308 pages In Tom Stoppard’s Lord Malquist and…
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A clean miss
 

A clean miss

Gun Show Nation: Gun Culture and American Democracy by Joan Burbick. New Press, 2007. 288 pages. While teaching Latin at…
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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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Dad’s take on father’s day
 

Dad’s take on father’s day

Father’s Day, surely a boon to the greeting card industry and certain segments of the male apparel industry, has taken…
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Schwartz discusses impacts of Catholicism on four British writers
 

Schwartz discusses impacts of Catholicism on four British writers

A country which has accepted the mantle of “empire,’ however inimical that mantle may be to its professed destiny; a…
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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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A hard day’s work
 

A hard day’s work

On Earth’s Furrowed Brow: The Appalachian Farm in Photographs by Tim Barnwell. W. W. Norton, 2007. 224 pages. For a…
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The first lady of the South
 

The first lady of the South

First Lady of the Confederacy: Varina Davis’s Civil War by Joan E. Cashin. Belknap Press, 2006. Civil wars are marked…
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Hootnoggers: History, definitely delightful
 

Hootnoggers: History, definitely delightful

First, the tomatoes. Then the applause. Rob Neufeld’s Mountains, Heroes & Hootnoggers: A Popular History of Western North Carolina (The…
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Southern Comfort
 

Southern Comfort

Cornbread Nation 2 by Lolis Eric Elie. The University of North Carolina Press, 2007. In the last 50 years, home…
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Livingroom predators
 

Livingroom predators

Relentless Enemies: Lions and Buffalo by Dereck and Beverly Joubert. National Geographic, 2006. 176 pages. Four years ago, my family…
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Heir to the King
 

Heir to the King

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill. William Morrow, 2007. 376 pages Although both the publisher and the author of Heart-Shaped Box…
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Today’s writing smacks of sameness
 

Today’s writing smacks of sameness

The 1920s were a golden age for American fiction and poetry. F. Scott Fizgerald helped give the decade its name…
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Stories from the dead
 

Stories from the dead

In the small Southern community where she lives, Finch Nobles, the narrator of A Gracious Plenty, easily qualifies as a…
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The rise and rise of the American empire
 

The rise and rise of the American empire

H.W. Crocker’s Don’t Tread On Me: A 400-Year History of America at War, from Indian Fighting to Terrorist Hunting gives…
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War can be murder
 

War can be murder

Recently, a distressing bit of information surfaced on CNN about the war in Iraq. There has been a significant increase…
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Fascinating as Lewis himself
 

Fascinating as Lewis himself

Among Christians, C.S. Lewis has a reputation that runs in several directions. As the author of The Chronicles of Narnia,…
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A debut reminiscent of other stirring westerns
 

A debut reminiscent of other stirring westerns

Back in the 15th century, when Europe underwent a remarkable surge in creativity, the word “Renaissance” (meaning “rebirth”) was frequently…
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Thankfully, some books are short
 

Thankfully, some books are short

Ludie’s Life by Cynthia Rylant. Harcourt Children's Books, 2006. 128 pages. Sometimes bad things come in small packages.
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Locked away
 

Locked away

Coventry by Joseph Bathanti. Novello Festival Press, 2006. 261 pages. When 30-year-old Calvin Gaddy finds himself working as a guard…
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Two outta three ain’t bad
 

Two outta three ain’t bad

Snow and falling temperatures — we’ve had little of the former this winter, and some of the latter — provide…
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The Stone Raft: Surreal of so real
 

The Stone Raft: Surreal of so real

If you remember those wonderful fairy tales in which the hero acquires the aid of “helpers” in their journey to…
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History 2 - Food 1
 

History 2 - Food 1

The Avenger Takes His Place: Andrew Johnson and the 45 Days that Changed the Nation by Howard Means. Harcourt, 2006.…
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Revenge rising
 

Revenge rising

Well, dear readers, modern pop fiction’s most famous killer, Hannibal the Cannibal, has quietly returned. For those of you who…
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Snowed in and booked up
 

Snowed in and booked up

“I never trusted happiness,” Robert Duvall says in “Tender Mercies.” I have begun to feel the same way about vacations.
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Dexter: friendly, gruesome with a twist of sociopath
 

Dexter: friendly, gruesome with a twist of sociopath

Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay. New York: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard. $12.95 – 288 pages. Dearly Devoted Dexter by Jeff…
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Steps towards manhood
 

Steps towards manhood

I’m Proud of You: My Friendship with Fred Rogers by Tim Madigan. Gotham, 2006. 208 pages. Dear Chris, Your questions…
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Frankly eye-opening
 

Frankly eye-opening

Militant Islam in America by Marshall Frank. Fortis Books, 2006. 198 pages. This morning (Dec. 9), I sat down to…
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A darkness that resides
 

A darkness that resides

Coronado by Dennis Lehane. William Morrow Publishers, 2006. $24.95 — 232 pages.
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Christmas stories aloud
 

Christmas stories aloud

The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. Penguin - 6th edition, 2006. 432 pages Of course, we cannot all read aloud…
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Recommended diversions
 

Recommended diversions

Stand on Zanzibar In 1968, a British science fiction writer named John Brunner wrote a novel, a 50-year projection into…
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Atypical King
 

Atypical King

Stephen King has written more than 40 novels now — books that are classified in the “horror/thriller/fantasy genre.” King is…
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Crucial issues facing America
 

Crucial issues facing America

Al Qaeda in Europe: The New Battleground of International Jihad by Lorenzo Vidino. Prometheus Books, 2005. 403 pages. The Democrats…
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A ghost in the city of angels
 

A ghost in the city of angels

Ask the Dust by John Fante. Black Sparrow Press. $13 (paperback) — 165 pages. Back in Charles Bukowski’s youth (the…
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Occupational reading
 

Occupational reading

Flower Confidential: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful in the Business of Flowers by Amy Stewart. Algonquin Books, 2006.…
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Smith thrills in his new dark suspense
 

Smith thrills in his new dark suspense

“The Ruins does for Mexican vacations what Jaws did for New England beaches.” — Stephen King The Ruins by Scott…
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Sifting through the stack
 

Sifting through the stack

For many people, autumn means more than colorful leaves and blue, crisp days. For them fall is, like spring, a…
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