David Joy releases latest novel 'When These Mountains Burn'

Situated at the corner of N.C. 107 and 281, in the Tuckasegee community of rural Jackson County, is a newly-built Dollar General. And sitting in his pickup truck in the convenience store parking lot one recent afternoon is acclaimed author David Joy. 

A few good books about old times

In 1960, when I was in elementary school, the pop group Dante & the Evergreens rocked my young ears with two hit songs on the radio: “Alley Oop” and a little later, “Time Machine.” (Both songs are available on YouTube. Have some fun and give them a listen.) In “Time Machine,” a young man sees a picture of Cleopatra in a book, falls in love with her, and vows to build a time traveling “thingamajig.” Here is the song’s refrain:”

Yiddish noir novel hits the mark

So, how many Yiddish authors do you know? If you’re like me your answer would be none. That is until I happened upon Jacob Dinezon’s (1855-1919)  novel The Dark Young Man (first published in 1877), translated by Tina Lunson and adapted and edited by Scott Hilton Davis and newly released by Jewish Storytelling Press in February. 

Catch him if you can: David Joy releases highly-anticipated third novel

If you didn’t know him, you wouldn’t even notice him.

Sitting by himself at the counter of the Innovation Station in Dillsboro one recent sunny afternoon, David Joy sips on a heady craft brew, the blonde ale to be specific (his favorite). The sparkling new second location for Innovation Brewing (based out of nearby Sylva), Joy is fiercely loyal to the indepently-owned/operated company, a loyalty akin to the hardscrabble characters of his wildy fascinating and acclaimed novels.

Choose your summer reading carefully

The last 10 days have brought some broad swatches of time for reading.

Two novels have traveled from the library, visited my fingers and eyes, and returned to their comrades on the shelves. Will Durant’s The Story of Civilization — I’ve just finished Volume VI: The Reformation — keeps me out of trouble for 30 minutes a day, and old friends like Robert Hartwell Fiske’s The Best Words, Mark Helprin’s A Soldier of the Great War, Nina George’s The Little Paris Bookshop, and Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules For Life offer, as a Coca-Cola ad once put it, “the pause that refreshes.” 

Mystery novel delves into the opioid crisis

In Elizabethan England, the vast majority of the population drank alcohol rather than unclean water, consuming up to a gallon of ale, beer, and wine every day. In his biography on Shakespeare, Anthony Burgess gives a compelling, humorous account of how so many of London’s population must have been tipsy by noon.

Where local and global meet

Do I have one for you! Elaine Neil Orr’s Swimming Between Worlds was recommended to me by Wayne Caldwell and got my further attention after reading Charles Frazier’s endorsement “[Her book is] a perceptive and powerful story told with generosity and grace.” How could I refuse? The review copy arrived in the mail and I was into it the same day. If the cliche “I couldn’t put it down” ever applied to a book of fiction, it certainly applies to this book.

Books that help bridge the political divide

Time for spring-cleaning. 

The basement apartment in which I live could use a deep cleaning: dusting, washing, vacuuming. It’s tidy enough — chaos and I were never friends — but stacks of papers need sorting, bookcases beg to see their occupants removed and the shelves rubbed down with a mixture of Pine-Sol and water, and the dusty, spider-webbed eaves cry out for an invasion from the shop-vac and dust mop. 

Character has one foot in earth, the other in paradise

Michael D. O’Brien, Canadian novelist and painter, essayist and lecturer, is the author of what I call “door-stop” books. His works of fiction, most of which I have read and all of which I enjoyed immensely, are hefty tomes which, if one so wished, could double as dumbbells, weapons of defense, and as I say, door stoppers.

Time to clear the desk, part one

Time to clear the decks — or in my case, the desk.

For whatever reason — to escape our poisonous political atmosphere; take refuge from onerous work; push away some black thoughts; reignite my love of words and language — I have read a raft of books in the last six weeks. Much of my reading occurs in spurts, 15-minute breaks from my obligations, cup of coffee or tea at the elbow, sprawled in a lawn chair in the backyard oblivious, or at least feigning oblivion, to the shouts and scissor-legged running — where in heaven’s name do they get the energy? — of half-a-dozen grandchildren.

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