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Wednesday, 14 September 2016 15:28

Putting a face on the growing white underclass

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For decades, the lot of poor white Americans has worsened. Marriage rates have plummeted while out-of-wedlock births have skyrocketed. Unemployment,…
Wednesday, 07 September 2016 15:06

Sociologist got it wrong; religion is on the uptick

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In 1968, Peter Berger, a Boston University sociologist, told the New York Times that by “the 21st century, religious believers…
Wednesday, 31 August 2016 15:03

The best way to learn to write is simple – write

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This one’s for students, especially those of you in secondary school and college. Let’s get right to the point. Reading,…
Wednesday, 24 August 2016 11:34

Novel explores questions of real import

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It’s a wonderful day when a book surprises us with its wit, story, style, and wisdom. Recently I was talking…
Most of us like lists: “The 100 Greatest Novels of the Twentieth Century,” “The Ten Best Movies of All Time,”…
Wednesday, 10 August 2016 15:41

The life of Harry Crews makes for depressing reading

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This may be the most depressing biography I have ever read. Although I frequently considered abandoning this painful trudge through…
Wednesday, 03 August 2016 13:59

Getting what you give up

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In a 12-round heavyweight professional boxing match, at the beginning of the twelfth round there is a bell and the…
Wednesday, 27 July 2016 16:32

Bradbury created a genre all his own

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Last year a storm of controversy erupted over the destruction of writer Ray Bradbury’s home in Los Angeles. Architect Thom…
Wednesday, 20 July 2016 15:10

Cowan’s writing could make you cry

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When Leo Cowan, Jackson County’s noted historian and author, died last February just after his second book was published, I…
In her novel Under The Influence (William Morrow, 2016, 321 pages, $25.99), Joyce Maynard makes her title do double duty…
Wednesday, 06 July 2016 15:37

Falling into the rabbit hole of fiction

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For reasons unfathomable to me, I have spent the last two weeks on a fiction-reading jag. Until I was about…
Wednesday, 29 June 2016 03:08

Sylva movie’s author is famed British playwright

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Back a few months ago, when Hollywood came to town, I was fascinated and when I heard that for a…
Wednesday, 22 June 2016 14:35

Jim Harrison lived in servitude to words

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In March, Jim Harrison, age 78, died of a heart attack. Harrison was among the most prolific of American writers,…
Wednesday, 15 June 2016 15:23

A new voice for Southern Appalachian fiction

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To review a book or to write a “book review” is to pinpoint its particular presence and its peculiarities. To…
Wednesday, 08 June 2016 16:26

Hilarious and serious; two different summer reads

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Novels that make me laugh aloud are rare. Two novels, Confederacy of Dunces and Freddy and Fredericka, brought laughter, and…
Wednesday, 01 June 2016 15:46

The March is filled with unique characters

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Several months ago, I was invited to join the Senior Citizen Book Club at the Jackson County Senior Citizen Center.…
Wednesday, 25 May 2016 15:44

Data shows that we are becoming more religious

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In recent years, we have seen a stream of books and authors promoting atheism. Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s…
Wednesday, 18 May 2016 15:36

Teaching children how to succeed at life

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Near the end of The Collapse of Parenting: How We Hurt Our Kids When We Treat Them Like Grown-Ups, Dr.…
Wednesday, 11 May 2016 15:28

Novel mixes Cherokee folklore with real history

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This astonishing “novel” was crafted by three multi-talented western Cherokees who live and create in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. It resembles a…
Wednesday, 04 May 2016 02:21

Crazy little thing called love

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Love. What a loaded word. Let’s skip the love of country, the love of family, the love of nature, the love…
Wednesday, 27 April 2016 15:44

An epic tale of revenge on the frontier

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As you probably know, The Revenant, this astonishing survival tale was recently made into a movie with Leonardo DiCaprio in…
Wednesday, 20 April 2016 13:55

A book about the good news and the bad news

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Twenty-five years ago, a pediatrician told my sister that eggs were unhealthy and that she must never serve them to…
Wednesday, 13 April 2016 14:33

Chaos erupting into beauty

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Stephanie Storey’s Oil and Marble, which was released this spring, is not only a page-turner but an eye-opener.
Wednesday, 06 April 2016 15:06

New light on Salem Witch Trials

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Back in 1954, when I was a freshman at Western Carolina Teachers College (now WCU), the college’s drama department launched…
Wednesday, 30 March 2016 13:50

When disagreeing could still be eloquent

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“War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.” — George Orwell, 1984 For the past year, Americans have endured…
Wednesday, 23 March 2016 15:31

Tragedy at Frank Lloyd Wright’s house

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In this story, I am God. — Frank Lloyd Wright The title of this nonfiction work, Death in a Prairie…
Wednesday, 16 March 2016 15:21

Reading great books remains important

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Lent, which extends from Ash Wednesday to Easter, is for many Christians a time of fasting and prayer. Some believers…
“It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing…
Wednesday, 02 March 2016 16:04

A few nuggets from books only partly read

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Books brought home from the library: The Art of Grace; Keep It Fake; The Churchill Factor; The Fellowship; South Toward…
Wednesday, 24 February 2016 16:23

Katrina-spawned novel finally getting its due

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Hurricane Katrina spawned an awesome number of literary works, and it may be that, given sufficient time to determine the full…
Wednesday, 17 February 2016 17:25

Florence King: a biting wit that took no prisoners

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In Withering Slights: The Bent Pin Collection (National Review Books, 2015, ISBN 978-0-9847650-3-4, 186 pages, $24.95), the recently deceased (she…
Wednesday, 10 February 2016 16:44

A polite listener for those bizarre stories

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I have always been an Art Bell fan, and judging from the extensive archives on YouTube, I am not the…
Wednesday, 03 February 2016 16:05

Florence King took no prisoners

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During a recent discussion in the AP Literature class I teach, I mentioned that the actor Alan Rickman had died…
Wednesday, 27 January 2016 16:21

The Web is changing us in more ways than we know

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In Reclaiming Conversation, author Sherry Turkle notes that significant changes sometimes come to our daily lives without our noticing, until…
Wednesday, 20 January 2016 15:33

Start off with something old, something new

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With the new year now upon us, it strikes me that “something old” and “something new” is appropriate for this…
Wednesday, 13 January 2016 16:16

A look at religion and the ‘misfits for Jesus’

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Nadia Bolz-Weber is the founder of the House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, Colorado. She defines herself as…
Wednesday, 06 January 2016 16:50

A man addicted to reading and writing

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My name is Joe Ecclesia. On a recent December Saturday, when I interviewed Jeff Minick about his new novel, Dust…
Wednesday, 30 December 2015 16:19

E.M. Forster 1907 novel relevant today

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When I was in graduate school at Western Carolina University back in 1970, I encountered a remarkable teacher, Dr. Louise…
Wednesday, 23 December 2015 14:53

Courage, greed and political intrigue in Peru

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When we think of Peru, we think of captivating pictures of Machu Picchu. We’ve all seen them. Some of us…
Wednesday, 16 December 2015 16:54

Forschen novel looks at collapse a year later

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In the spring of 2011, there appeared William Forschen’s One Second After, a novel set in Black Mountain, North Carolina,…
Wednesday, 09 December 2015 16:24

King is spot on with new short story collection

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Being a lifelong Stephen King fan, I have always been pleased to note that King is always keenly aware of…
Wednesday, 02 December 2015 16:40

‘Dead White Guys’ ideas still relevant

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Whatever our denominations or religious beliefs, many of us are familiar with the old adage of this season: “Peace on…
Wednesday, 25 November 2015 16:57

Irving still churning out sublime writing

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Avenue of Mysteries is John Irving’s fourteenth novel and it marks another amazing tale from an author who has been…
Wednesday, 18 November 2015 16:55

Rash’s poetic prose infuses new novel

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“How near at hand it was If they had eyes to see it.” —G.M. Hopkins
Wednesday, 11 November 2015 16:30

Four short reviews to help clear the desk

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In the last month, my reading of books has outstripped my reviews. Consequently, stacks of books surround the desk at…
Wednesday, 04 November 2015 15:55

A post-apocalyptic world fuels sci-fi novel

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Back in the ‘60s, I went on a science fiction bender that lasted a decade.
Wednesday, 28 October 2015 14:59

Women writers who took me by the hand

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Many readers — and I am one of them — are fascinated by books lists. There are scores of these…
Wednesday, 21 October 2015 16:17

Let’s go surfin’ now …

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In a surfing genre memoir complete with a SurferMagazine, globe-trotting storyline, all set to a 1960s rock & roll soundtrack,…
Wednesday, 14 October 2015 14:45

Touchstones: Seven novels that carry weight

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English writer Graham Greene used to divide his literary works into entertainments, which we might call thrillers, and novels, which…
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