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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…
Wednesday, 16 March 2011 19:29

Hiking the Pacific Coast Trail with Skywalker

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Some The Smoky Mountain News readers may remember a review here several seasons ago of Bill Walker’s Skywalker: Close Encounters…
Wednesday, 09 March 2011 21:11

Love, devotion and a restless journey

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The great kite of the crucified Christ loomed and caused the crowd to vibrate. Like a pyre before him, the…
Wednesday, 02 March 2011 21:03

Battling weight problems and ensuing baggage

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Though heroin and cocaine are dangerous and illegal, both drugs carry with them a cachet, the dark romance of, say,…
Wednesday, 23 February 2011 20:50

Vampire saga lacks traditional horror appeal

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For quite some time now, the literary genre known as “science fiction/horror” has been undergoing radical changes. The “creatures of…
Wednesday, 16 February 2011 20:44

A novel that sparkles with quality writing

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In Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand (ISBN 978-1-4000-6893-7, 2010, $25), first-time novelist Helen Simonson has created a superb portrait of life…
Wednesday, 09 February 2011 20:44

Area storytellers featured in new book

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In view of the fact that Southern Appalachia is acknowledged to be a massive reservoir of traditional storytelling, Saundra Kelley’s…
Wednesday, 02 February 2011 21:09

Author recounts unique parenting journey

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Some novels call to mind certain family members. There are the wise old stories that remind us of our grandparents,…
Wednesday, 26 January 2011 21:08

A grisly war novel that stands apart

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“It took Karl Marlantes 30 years to write his thunderous, brutally granular account of scorched-earth combat in Vietnam. Matterhorn was…
Wednesday, 19 January 2011 19:58

Revisiting one of the last raids of the Civil War

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Anyone who has driven state roads between Asheville and Winston-Salem has quite possibly seen those state historical markers commemorating the…
Wednesday, 12 January 2011 13:22

This is quality Southern writing

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How many times have you heard the lament, “They don’t write southern novels the way they used to”? This statement…
Wednesday, 05 January 2011 20:49

A cautionary tale of the dangers of excess

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“The rich are different from you and me,” F. Scott Fitzgerald once famously said to Ernest Hemingway, to which Hemingway…