‘McMullen Circle’ and picks for teen readers

It’s 1969-1970, and the world is changing at a fierce pace. The civil rights movement grips America’s cultural arena, and the war in Vietnam is raging. 

Straight up or subtle satire? You decide

Writers of fiction find themselves under several obligations. First and perhaps foremost, they must entertain their readers, enticing them to keep turning the pages. Doing so means creating believable characters who must get past some challenging hurdles, whether those involve love, war, nature, or other obstacles.

Some bookish thoughts for the new year

Whatever our political beliefs or affiliations, few of us, I suspect, will look back on 2022 with pangs of nostalgia, at least in regard to events in our country at large.

Thoughts and books for your 
own ‘Happiness Project’

In her online article “World Happiness Report reveals the US has gotten happier in 2022,” Ann Schmidt relates that the United States moved from number 19 out of 146 nations to number 16 in its happiness index.

Drunk and down but never defeated

Take a broken-hearted, alcoholic English professor, some colleagues seeking his dismissal from the university, several women who desire him for different reasons, and a series of encounters in bars in Charlottesville, Virginia, and you have the basic ingredients of Victor Cabas’s tragicomic “Postmodern Blues” (Hypocrite Press, 2020, 170 pages). 

C.S. Lewis bio is worth a read

Mention the name C.S. Lewis to other readers, and they might recollect him in any number of roles. The younger set and their parents might mention him as a writer of children’s classics like “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.”

A perfect gift for local lore buffs

If you’re looking for a gift for the holidays for that person in your life who enjoys reading about local history, folklore, and life in these mountains, or if someone you know loves whipping up different sorts of meals in the kitchen, then you need to hustle out and pick up a copy of Jim Casada’s “Fishing For Chickens: A Smokies Food Memoir” (The University of Georgia Press, 2022, 336 pages). 

Here’s to inflation-fighting holiday gifts

According to a recent U.S. News & World Report article, “The 15 Richest Counties in the U.S.,” five of these counties are next door neighbors to Washington, D.C. These are the bedroom communities for the capitol, the home of politicians, bureaucrats, lobbyists, and others who have their finger in the federal pie and tell the rest of us how to live.

The good and the bad: two book reviews

À chacun son gout, as the French say: “To each his own,” or if you prefer, “There’s no accounting for taste.” Best to keep that thought in mind in this review.

Bringing Van Gogh home: the value of art books

Recently I wrote an article on the American artist Edward Hopper and his vision of solitude and alienation. Though I used the internet to hyperlink pictures of his paintings to those discussed in my essay, I also went to my local library, where — this was a bit of a miracle — I found three volumes of his work.

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