An epic tale of revenge on the frontier

bookAs you probably know, The Revenant, this astonishing survival tale was recently made into a movie with Leonardo DiCaprio in the role of Hugh Glass, one of the last mountain men. Glass was attacked by a grizzly bear while scouting for the Rocky Mountain Fur Company in the fall of 1823; witnesses later testified to the fact that Glass was horribly mauled with near-fatal wounds and was abandoned by his companions, including two men who had dug a grave and had agreed to tend him until he died. Against all odds, Glass did not die and lived to launch an epic quest for revenge.

New light on Salem Witch Trials

bookBack in 1954, when I was a freshman at Western Carolina Teachers College (now WCU), the college’s drama department launched a production of The Crucible by Arthur Miller.

Tragedy at Frank Lloyd Wright’s house

bookIn this story, I am God. — Frank Lloyd Wright

The title of this nonfiction work, Death in a Prairie House, is misleading since it suggests that it is the latest offering from a crime fiction writer. While the title is appropriate, the actual subject discussed by William R. Drennan is much more. It is one of the most provocative mysteries in the history of American crime: the murders of seven people on August 5, 1914, in Frank Lloyd Wright’s famed “love nest, “Taliesin” in Spring Green, Wisconsin.

Marquez autobiography rich in detail, just like his prose

book“It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.” 

— Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Early in this astonishing autobiography, Gabriel Garcia Marquez makes a comment about the problems the he has experienced when writing about the past. He notes: nostalgia colors the way we recall the past because frequently, it has “erased the bad memories and magnified the good ones.”

Katrina-spawned novel finally getting its due

bookHurricane Katrina spawned an awesome number of literary works, and it may be that, given sufficient time to determine the full merits of Jesmyn Ward’s novel, Salvage the Bones, her work may be the most worthy. 

A polite listener for those bizarre stories

bookI have always been an Art Bell fan, and judging from the extensive archives on YouTube, I am not the only one. For the past 20 years, Bell has been acknowledged as the “King of nighttime radio” and usually holds forth around midnight from some remote site in Australia or the Mohave. His program is always a call-in show with names like “Coast to Coast,” or “Dreamland” or currently, “Midnight in the Desert.”

The Web is changing us in more ways than we know

bookIn Reclaiming Conversation, author Sherry Turkle notes that significant changes sometimes come to our daily lives without our noticing, until someone like Rachael Carson publishes an astonishing work like Silent Spring, telling us that our advances in technology have brought a permanent change to our environment.

A look at religion and the ‘misfits for Jesus’

bookNadia Bolz-Weber is the founder of the House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, Colorado. She defines herself as “a sarcastic, heavily tortured, angry person who swears.” She is also heavily tattooed. She often hears herself referred to as “that scandalous and dangerous woman.”

E.M. Forster 1907 novel relevant today

bookWhen I was in graduate school at Western Carolina University back in 1970, I encountered a remarkable teacher, Dr. Louise Rorabacker, a retired professor from Purdue who had decided to move to Western North Carolina. There were only 12 of us in her “honors class” on dystopian and utopian literature, and we read a dozen works in about eight weeks.

King is spot on with new short story collection

bookBeing a lifelong Stephen King fan, I have always been pleased to note that King is always keenly aware of the world around him. By that, I mean that he reads, watches the news every day and seems to be genuinely distressed by what he finds there. He still has that gift of understanding teenagers as is evident in his “spot on” dialogue in “Mile 81” (which also turns out to be a tribute to his over-the-top novel, Christine).

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