Three dark gems

Almost a decade ago, I wrote an unabashed rave review of Howard Bahr’s The Black Flower (1997), a darkly beautiful novel based on one of the Civil War’s most tragic events, the Battle of Franklin.

Chick check

The word “ubiquitous” is an apt adjective for Chick comics. They show up in motel rooms, garages, pool halls, laundromats, telephone booths, homeless shelters and Christian bookstores. The small format (about the size of an index card) with 24 to 36 pages and their raw, vivid colors make them instantly recognizable. Chick comics have been around for more than 40 years and they are literally all over the world. Popular titles like “This is Your Life” and “Somebody Loves You” have African, French, Hebrew, Dutch and Japanese versions (the comics are available in 70 languages!) with each “adaptation” subtly edited to reflect cultural differences. More than 400 million of them have been published now.

An open eye

Let’s imagine for a moment that it is Election Day in some unspecified city, and the proper government officials have gathered in the local polls to record and count the votes. However, when the doors open, no voters appear (it is raining). Noon arrives, the rain stops, but still there are no voters. The officials become uneasy and resort to cajoling a few relatives over the phone to perform their civic duty. Then, one hour before the polls are supposed to close, thousands of voters appear, requiring the officials to extend the voting time.

Authenticity often doesn’t lend itself to good drama

Back in 1952, when I was one of a dozen Western North Carolina high school students who wrote winning essays on the Trail of Tears, I sat with a transfixed audience in Cherokee’s Mountainside Theatre and watched T’sali die.

Real Mountain dialect

Like hundreds of other mountain folk who grew up listening to “the old folks talking,” I always wanted to be a storyteller. Sitting on the dark end of my granny’s porch on a windy October night, I listened to her tell about the woman who drowned her baby in our spring. “Nights like this, you can hear it cry,” she said. Later, she told me about the night my daddy brought his new bride home.

Amazing language found in a lost novel

Recently, the New York Times set off a hotly contested literary skirmish by naming what their literary staff considered to be the greatest novels of the past 25 years. A platoon of critics entered the fray, and after a bit of sniping, there was something resembling a consensus. All finally agreed that our five greatest writers (at the present) were Toni Morrison (Beloved), Don Delillo (Underworld) John Updike (Rabbit Angstrom), Cormac McCarthy (Blood Meridian), and Philip Roth (American Pastoral).

Personal heart therapy with Homer Harris

I have found that not being able to hear in a crowded room is a constant frustration. Usually, when people talk to me in an earnest fashion, I take the path of least resistance and pretend to understand. That is what happened last week in the lobby of the physical therapy building at Harris Regional Hospital.

Hard times and happy days

On March 4, 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt took office. Frank C. Davis, the author of My C.C.C. Days, says “the lights in all the government buildings in Washington, D. C., burned all night, that night.”

Selling the library out for all the wrong reasons

Back last fall, about the time the Jackson County Library controversy mutated into an issue with all of the appeal of a dead mule in doorway of the Town Hall, I decided to give up my role as “gadfly.” I was bitterly opposed to the proposed site (Jackson Plaza), but eventually I began to feel that I was a single whining voice in the wilderness. The rest of Jackson County either approved of the site, or worse, simply didn’t give a damn.

A Melange of murder and myth

If you have a TV, you probably know that the film version of Dan Brown’s blockbuster novel is scheduled for release this month. According to a bevy of movie commentators, their projections indicate that “The Da Vinci Code” will be the most popular film of the summer (and possibly, of the decade). Of course, the book has already eclipsed all “best-seller” records with 8 million copies sold in just the first year.

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