What? Me read?
Letters to My Son on the Love of Books by Roberto Coltroneo. Ecco Press, 1998. 151 pages.
In the Dec. 24 issue of The New Yorker, Caleb Crain addresses the decline of literacy and the increasing disinterest in reading in “Twilight of the Books: what will life be like if people stop reading?” Despite the title, Crain doesn’t speculate much about the future of reading, though he does offer the comment that if we continue our swing away from printed knowledge toward audiovisual imagery — television, movies, YouTube — ”the nation’s conversation with itself is likely to change.”
When Florida was wild
Crackers in the Glade: Life and Times in the Old Everglades edited Betty Savidge Briggs. University of Georgia Press, 2007. 127 pages.
Crackers in the Glade: Life and Times in the Old Everglades (University of Georgia Press, ISBN 13-978-0-8203-3043-3) tells the story of Rob Storter, fisherman, fishing guide, writer and artist, a man who witnessed and helped record the transformation of West Florida from a rough frontier to its current development as a haven for tourists, retirees, and developers.
Christmas traditions from the Moravians
Moravian Christmas in the South by Nancy Smith Thomas. The University of North Carolina Press, 2007. 184 pages
Easter is the religious holiday that most North Carolinians would associate with the Moravian Church. In Winston-Salem, brass bands travel about the downtown, waking old neighborhoods with hymns in the wee hours of the morning, an event that culminates at dawn in Old Salem, when the bands and thousands of people gather to celebrate the Easter Sunrise Service.
The way of the sword
The 47th Samurai by Stephen Hunter. Simon & Schuster, 2007. 384 pages.
Eight seconds, according to Stephen Hunter in his latest novel The 47th Samurai (13:978-0-7432-3809-0, $26), is the amount of time it takes a human being to bleed out and die after having his guts carved open or a limb chopped off by a samurai’s sword.
Reading for the holidays
Books are the ideal gift for the Yuletide season. Think of the many advantages in giving a book to a friend or loved one for Christmas. Books provide hours of pleasure. They don’t add inches to the waistline. Books travel well — the giver needn’t fear breakage — and they pack easily into a bag or the car. Finally, the least adroit among us can gift-wrap a book and construct a package that looks decent. And if we’re unsure what book to give the booklover in our life, we can always purchase and bestow on them a gift card, which takes even less space and affords your bibliophile the added pleasure of leisurely browsing a bookshop.
An English breakdown
Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog: The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences by Kitty Burns Florey. Melville House Publishing, 2006. 154 pages.
Lovers of the English language have always suffered the pistol-whip cuts of poor spelling, dreadful grammar, and confused syntax. Our postmodern writing is no exception.
Of Fathers and Wardrobes
Men’s Style: The Thinking Man’s Guide to Dress by Russell Smith. Thomas Dunne Books, 2007. 256 pages.
For many years Bill Cosby has passionately sought to shore up the deteriorating American family. Both “The Cosby Show” and Cosby’s best-selling Fatherhood book offer humorous takes on family life while simultaneously demonstrating the strength that can be found in family life.
Carter through the eyes of a friend
Prophet From Plains: Jimmy Carter and His Legacy by Frye Gaillard. University of Georgia Press, 2007. 144 pages
In the prologue to Prophet From Plains: Jimmy Carter and His Legacy (University of Georgia Press, 2007), Frye Gaillard writes that his book “is not a presidential biography but an extended profile, one writer’s understanding of this complicated man, based on encounters off and on for twenty years.” In these words he sums up both the strengths and flaws of Prophet From Plains, and unintentionally issues the reader a caveat regarding his own admiration for the former president.
Paging all book lovers
Readers of the Smoky Mountain News are acutely aware of the writing and storytelling talent here in Western North Carolina. Several writers for this paper have seen their work published, and a score of local authors have seen their books reviewed in these pages.
Lessons from the jungle
The Airmen and the Headhunters: A True Story of Lost Soldiers, Heroic Tribesman and the Unlikeliest Rescue of World War II by Judith Heimann. Harcourt, 2007. 304 pages.
The generation of Americans who fought in World War II, the Americans who landed in North Africa and in Italy, who fought at Guadalcanal and Midway, who fought in places where the enemy was not just the Japanese but kunai grass and mosquitoes, where the enemy was not just the Germans but mud and snow, our armed forces personnel who battled Germans and Japanese on three continents: this generation is swiftly falling away from the tree of life.