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Thursday, 15 March 2012 04:18

Gossip and privacy in the modern world

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Little Sally was eating lunch with her family when her parents ask her if she learned anything in Sunday School…
Wednesday, 07 March 2012 13:58

Taking a trip down dark, violent passages

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This novel contains an endorsement from the late William Gay that tweaked my interest. I immediately bought the book. Gay…
Wednesday, 29 February 2012 22:15

A newfound power in 20 minutes a day

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Twenty minutes a day. In early January, writing in my book column for this paper, I made a New Year’s…
Wednesday, 22 February 2012 21:50

Book tells the story of a young boy’s journey

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Fifteen-year-old Charlie Thompson is always hungry. Luckily, he is blessed with a high metabolism rate, so the excessive amounts of…
Wednesday, 15 February 2012 13:49

How an enduring writer created himself

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There are many reasons to love the writing of Ray Bradbury. His early short stories — science fiction “lite,” tales…
Wednesday, 08 February 2012 21:39

Book delves into a dark corner of our world

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Thursday. Throughout this anguished and gripping tale, this day of the week, Thursday” is usually italicized, suggesting that it has…
Wednesday, 01 February 2012 21:36

Some novels requires a certain tolerance

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Recently I watched several early episodes of “Blue Bloods,” a fine television series centered on a New York family with…
Thursday, 26 January 2012 03:19

Well-crafted stories about the dark side of life

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Several months ago, I reviewed Daniel Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone, and received an unusual number of responses from readers. In general,…
Wednesday, 18 January 2012 14:46

Jane Austen decoded for men

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Of female writers who appeal the least to the young men in my seminars, Jane Austen surely holds first place.…
Wednesday, 11 January 2012 15:10

Intrigue, violence and opium in Oslo

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The Leopard marks the eighth crime novel featuring the chain-smoking alcoholic Inspector Harry Hole of the Oslo Police Department, an…
Thursday, 05 January 2012 03:40

Planning a year of purposeful reading

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The New Year’s resolution typically leads a short and tragic life. Its father is misdeeds, its mother remorse. Once born,…
Wednesday, 28 December 2011 14:01

Separating the good guys from the bad

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About 20 years ago, the book collector’s magazine “First” published an impressive article on George Pelecanos, a new writer that…
Wednesday, 21 December 2011 14:53

A season to reconnect with familiar stories

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That time of year has arrived when ritual and custom weave their magical threads into our lives. We sip Uncle…
Wednesday, 07 December 2011 14:28

When it comes to books, here is what women want

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“What do women want?” During the month of December, Sigmund Freud’s famous question haunts the minds of many men. Unlike…
Wednesday, 30 November 2011 21:12

Disturbing crime novel covers some dark ground

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Deer hunters call it “field dressing.” The dead deer is suspended head down from a sturdy tree limb and the…
Wednesday, 23 November 2011 14:58

Selections for your favorite bibliophile

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The rigors of holiday shopping are hard upon us, and bibliophiles, like everyone else, will turn their eyes toward bookshops,…
Wednesday, 16 November 2011 14:10

A hunt for a murderer and some peace

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I am a major Dan Simmons fan, but I had some reservations about signing on for this multi-layered, post-apocalyptic novel…
Wednesday, 09 November 2011 20:09

A haunting look at Hemingway’s life with Pilar

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This year marks the 50th anniversary of Ernest Hemingway’s death by suicide. He has remained, of course, an icon of…
Wednesday, 02 November 2011 19:45

This is delicious, fast-paced crime fiction

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If you are one of those readers who has a grudging respect for outlaws, and if you find yourself sometimes…
Wednesday, 26 October 2011 13:18

One a day helps her deal with the grief

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In recent years, a few individuals have taken on large reading projects and then written books of their own about…
Wednesday, 19 October 2011 13:09

An intriguing, intricate tale with plenty of twists

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When I was a teenager, I became addicted to a late-night horror movie host named Bestoink Dooley. Based in Atlanta,…
Wednesday, 12 October 2011 14:14

The past is not really past

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It is no secret that writers are influenced by authors whose work they admire. Though he would later turn his…
Wednesday, 05 October 2011 13:33

Skippy Dies: The anguish of being young

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Kind Hearts, this is an astonishing book. Frankly, I never would have read this one, if I had not blundered…
Wednesday, 28 September 2011 13:14

A little American history could be enlightening

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Often the people, places, and things that we love most in this world become so familiar to us, so much…
Wednesday, 21 September 2011 14:31

Frazier’s new novel a fast, good read

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In a tale set to the tune of Johnny Ace’s “Never Let Me Go” that’s told as if shown through…
Wednesday, 14 September 2011 12:51

A tribute to fishing and fish

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In last week’s The Smoky Mountain News, Gary Carden began his review of Ron Rash’s collection of poems, Waking, by…
Wednesday, 07 September 2011 14:07

Writing that transcends the mystery genre

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The fierce Santa Ana winds that blow through southern California are as much a recurring character in The Triggerman’s Dance…
Wednesday, 31 August 2011 12:59

Seek truth, good and beauty

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According to recent polls, Americans are angry. They are angry about the economy, about the role of government in their…
Wednesday, 24 August 2011 12:19

Rash’s new book of poetry evocative, resonant

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When I was nine years old, I once caught a 12-inch brown trout at the point where two small Jackson…
Wednesday, 17 August 2011 13:56

John Still’s posthumous novel ‘heart-rending’

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When I was a child riding the backroads of Western North Carolina with my grandfather in his big red Esso…
Wednesday, 10 August 2011 13:42

McCullough makes 19th century Paris come alive

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“At last I have come into a dreamland.” So wrote Harriet Beecher Stowe shortly after her arrival in Paris in…
Wednesday, 03 August 2011 13:32

A collection of dark plots and twisted characters

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Back in 1987, a young West Virginia writer, Pinckney Benedict, published a highly lauded collection of short stories entitled Town…
Danielle Ganek’s The Summer We Read Gatsby (ISBN 978-0-670-02178-9, $28.95) tells the story of two half-sisters, Cassie, a translator for…
Wednesday, 20 July 2011 14:07

Mysterious tribe’s tale

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This remarkable book has two protagonists. One is a learned, sophisticated (and somewhat jaded) scholar who has decided to spend…
Wednesday, 13 July 2011 12:25

Liberals: Demonic or Liberating

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“Look left and right, and be careful.” Your mother probably said those words to you when you were learning to…
Wednesday, 06 July 2011 11:21

Murder, sex and celebrities — 1920 style

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Well, kind hearts, as they used to say back in the Jazz Age, this one is “the bee’s knees.” Set…
Wednesday, 22 June 2011 13:57

A new take on the Paris of the ‘20s

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Paris in the 1920s attracted multitudes of American writers and artists. Drawn to France by a sense of adventure, by…
Wednesday, 15 June 2011 13:09

Anti-hero investigator brings tension to thriller

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Jo Nesbo’s protagonist, Inspector Harry Hole, is a daunting piece of work. A chain-smoking manic depressive and an alcoholic, Harry’s…
Wednesday, 08 June 2011 20:27

Father’s Day picks for the reader

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Father’s Day, the third Sunday of June and so falls this year on June 19, sports a peculiar history. Although…
Wednesday, 01 June 2011 19:57

The story of a modern-day oracle

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Occasionally, books are published in the U. S. that can best be described as “oddities” which acquire a kind of…
Thursday, 26 May 2011 04:35

C.S. Lewis’ love story and its lessons

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Nearly 50 years have passed the death of C.S. Lewis — he died of illness in 1963 on the same…
Wednesday, 18 May 2011 12:30

A thinking person’s crime novel

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Kind hearts, allow me to introduce Police Detective, Harry Hole. Let me warn you in advance, he is an alcoholic…
Wednesday, 11 May 2011 20:46

Book falls flat in telling of Hemingway

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So ends Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, his memoir of his years as a young writer in Paris. This book…
Wednesday, 27 April 2011 12:37

An agnostic searches for answers

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For Christians, Easter is a moveable feast day — this year the celebration fell about as late in the spring…
Wednesday, 20 April 2011 12:13

Holman’s novel dubbed compelling, tantalizing

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When I was a teenager, I became addicted to a late-night horror movie host named Bestoink Dooley. Based in Atlanta,…
Wednesday, 13 April 2011 19:29

A Southern siren among Manhatten’s literati

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In A Ticket to the Circus: A Memoir (978-1-4000-6794-7, $26), Norris Church Mailer gives an account of her marriage to…
Wednesday, 06 April 2011 19:45

Sentimental story is also very memorable

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The Memory of Running is a “road book.” In some respects it resembles what critics in the 19th century called…
Wednesday, 30 March 2011 19:31

Biography recounts the life of a quiet hero

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In “Twelfth Night,” Shakespeare wrote: “Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have…
Wednesday, 23 March 2011 19:45

Stephen King collection gets the thumbs-up

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At the conclusion of this collection of four novellas: Full Dark, No Stars, Stephen King adds an “Afterword.” In acknowledging…