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Wednesday, 09 January 2008 00:00

Big as a mountain

The Encyclopedia of Appalachia.  University of Tennessee Press, 2007. 1864 pages Sometimes good things come in big packages. And the Encyclopedia of Appalachia is big. More than 1,800 pages of finely-printed prose make up this boxlike book. I’m not sure…
Wednesday, 02 January 2008 00:00

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…
Wednesday, 26 December 2007 00:00

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…
Wednesday, 19 December 2007 00:00

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…
Wednesday, 12 December 2007 00:00

The way of the sword

The 47th Samurai by Stephen Hunter. Simon & Schuster, 2007. 384 pages. Eight seconds. 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…
Wednesday, 12 December 2007 00:00

A look at the dark side of the season

The Christmas Curmudgeon is available at: Barnes &Noble.com, the Western Carolina Internet Café in Dillsboro, or directly from the author at James Cox, P. O. Box 272, Whittier, NC, 28789. Send check ($14.95 plus postage) and your name and address.…
Wednesday, 05 December 2007 00:00

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…
The Friends of the Haywood Library annual book sale begins at 9 a.m. on July 26 and runs through Saturday, July 28. This year’s event has the largest collection of nonfiction books ever assembled for this sale. The books are…
Frank Foster will sign copies of his recently published thriller, Catch a Falling Knife, at Shakespeare & Co. Books from 5-7 p.m. on Saturday, July 21. Foster, a summer resident of Highlands, will speak about his novel and his writing,…
Wednesday, 18 July 2012 13:26

Martin earns mention alongside Tolkien

I apologize. About a month ago, when I concluded my review of Clash of Kings, I noted that I would not continue reviewing all of the books in the Songs of Ice and Fire series (I believe that there are…
Wednesday, 28 November 2007 00:00

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…
Wednesday, 21 November 2007 00:00

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…
Wednesday, 14 November 2007 00:00

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…
Wednesday, 07 November 2007 00:00

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…
Wednesday, 31 October 2007 00:00

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…
Wednesday, 24 October 2007 00:00

Forgotten poetry illuminated by Dark Horses

Dark Horses: Poets on Overlooked Poems by Joy Katz and Kevin Prufer.  University of Illinois Press, 2007. 232 pages Dark Horses: Poets on Overlooked Poems (University of Illinois Press, 2007) might seem at first glance merely another collection in the…
Wednesday, 17 October 2007 00:00

A Storm in the Big Easy

The Tin Roof Blowdown by James Lee Burke. Simon & Schuster, 2007. 384 pages. Fans of James Lee Burke’s bayou detective, Dave Robicheaux, have doubtless wondered not if, but how well, Burke would incorporate Hurricane Katrina into his next novel…
Wednesday, 10 October 2007 00:00

An undefined culture gets its own guide

Emo. Emo. Emoooooo. Occasionally the word (pronounced, I believe, I-moo) pops up on the Internet or jumps out of some conversation overheard on the street, snagging the ear and eye, but I keep ignoring it. The word and concept belong…
Wednesday, 25 July 2012 13:50

Special children’s story time

Curtis Sikes and Sheena Kohlmeyer will present their new children’s book, The Heart of a King, at 11 a.m. on July 28 at City Lights Bookstore in Sylva.   The Heart of a King tells the story of a young lion…
The Jackson County Public Library in Sylva will host author Dennis Murphy at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 31, for an introduction to his novel, Brain Waves, and a discussion of the process of publishing a novel. The book deals…
Wednesday, 25 July 2012 13:48

An erudite look into the cultural wars

Some years ago, a local artist mounted a painting in a local art show in which he painted Christ with pink paws and Easter bunny ears. “This is going to upset some people around here,” the painter told me. I…
Wednesday, 03 October 2007 00:00

Not such a safe place

The Pesthouse by Jim Crace. Nan A. Talese, 2007. 255 pages “Let’s drop the big one and see what happens.” This refrain from Randy Newman’s song “Political Science” could serve as the tagline for the whole realm of apocalyptic fiction.
Wednesday, 26 September 2007 00:00

Chick lit, chauvinism and modern Ireland

Whitethorn Woods by Maeve Binchy. Knopf, 2007. 352 pages. Recently my sister asked me if I had met anyone, which is a coded inquiry for “anyone of interest in terms of dating.” I told her that my schedule and my…
Wednesday, 26 September 2007 00:00

What is wrong with teaching in the US?

In 1991, 30-year veteran and master teacher John Taylor Gatto resigned immediately after being named “Teacher of the Year” in New York. A number of educators and concerned parents took note — especially after the disillusioned teacher’s reasons for resigning…
Stephanie Powell Watts will read from her new collection of short stories, We Are Taking Only What We Need, at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 2 at City Lights Bookstore. Most of the stories in this collection are set in North…
Contributors of the Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel Literary Journal will visit City Lights Bookstore at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 3, to share their featured work. The journal focuses on Appalachian writers with the most recent volume being co-edited…
Rutherford County resident and New York Times bestselling author Kay Hooper will visit regional bookstores this week to read from her new book, Haven. Hooper will appear at Blue Ridge Books and News in Waynesville at 6:30 p.m. on Aug.…
Wednesday, 01 August 2012 13:58

Book sale goes into second week

The Haywood Friends of the Library‘s Annual Book Sale will go into the second week on Aug. 3-4. On Friday, Aug. 3, all books left from the first three-day sale will be half price. The following day, there will be…
Wednesday, 01 August 2012 13:55

New religions and powerful women aplenty

Well, kind hearts, here we are in the fourth of a five-book series.  At the risk of being accused of indulging in extravagant praise, I must begin with words like “amazing, astonishing,” and yes, even “spellbinding.” All of George R. R.…
Wednesday, 19 September 2007 00:00

Intersection of American minds

American Bloomsbury by Susan Cheever. Simon & Schuster, 2006. 240 pages Susan Cheever, novelist, critic, and writer of acclaimed memoirs (Note Found in a Bottle and Home Before Dark) shifts her interests to the field of literary biography in American…
Wednesday, 12 September 2007 00:00

Life in the midst of change

A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas. Harcourt, 2006. 192 pages A blurb on the front cover of Abigail Thomas’ A Three Dog Life: A Memoir reads as follows: “The best memoir I have ever read. This book is a…
Wednesday, 05 September 2007 00:00

A taste for noir

Wild to Possess and A Taste for Sin by Gil Brewer. Stark House Press, 2006. One of the great delights of reading is to come across an exciting, new author for the first time. Even more delightful is the realization…
Wednesday, 08 August 2012 13:43

Book event includes Asian food tasting

An author reading, book signing, and Vietnamese food tasting with Deanna Klingel, will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 9, in the meeting room of the Macon County Library in Franklin. Klingel’s book is Bread Upon the Water, based…
Wednesday, 08 August 2012 13:42

Novelist to discuss local struggles

Author Wayne Caldwell will discuss his novel Cataloochee at 6 p.m. on Aug. 9 in the Haywood County Public Library auditorium in Waynesville. Caldwell’s talk is titled “The Genesis of a Novel,” and he will talk about how he attempted…
Wednesday, 08 August 2012 13:40

Crisp prose and humor keep novel moving

In her latest novel, Starting From Happy (ISBN 978-1-4391-02185, $24), Patricia Marx, author of Him Her Him Again The End of Him and a staff writer for the New Yorker, gives the reader an off-beat comedic look at relationships, work,…
Wednesday, 29 August 2007 00:00

Burning down the house

An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England by Brock Clarke. Algonquin Books, 2007. 305 pages. Some writers come to seem like friends to their readers, even like family. Oddly enough, in my own case these writers are not…
Wednesday, 22 August 2007 00:00

Put your money on Saratoga Fleshpot

Murdering Americans by Ruth Dudley Edwards. Poisoned Pen Press, 2007. 236 pages. Skewering the politically correct codes of our colleges and universities can be great fun, particularly for those writers and readers who are not yet humor-impaired. Like the Babbitts…
Wednesday, 15 August 2012 14:34

Rare book harkens back to a different time

Ramblin’ in Rabun is a reprint of a delightful book that was written down in Clayton, Ga., some 40 years ago. I have always been a fan of books that were compiled by some imaginative journalist who became profoundly interested…
Wednesday, 15 August 2012 14:31

Reading Room news briefs

Real-life mystery talks focus Margaret Dunbar Cutright, author of A Case for Soloman, will be at Blue Ridge Books in Waynesville at 3 p.m. on Aug. 25. Cutright’s book tells the spellbinding story of one of the most celebrated kidnapping…
Byron Ballard will discuss her book, Staubs and Ditchwater, at 6:30 p.m., Aug. 31, at City Lights Bookstore in Sylva. Part memoir, part instructional primer, Staubs and Ditchwater is an entertaining introduction to Appalachian folk magic. This knowledge encompasses planting by…
Two award-winning authors, Dawn Gilchrist-Young and Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle, who are also English teachers at Swain County High School, will each read from their novels, which are currently in progress, at 7 p.m. on Aug. 28 at the Jackson County…
Blue Ridge Books will host Margaret Dunbar Cutright, the co-author of A Case for Soloman: Bobby Dunbar and the Kidnapping that Haunted a Nation, at 3 p.m. Aug. 25, and a separate private reception will be held later that day.…
Wednesday, 22 August 2012 13:58

A book a day keeps the bad grades away

It’s that time of year when yellow buses roll down country roads, when children disappear from the stores and streets between the hours of eight and three, when teenagers can be seen entering school buildings bent forward like soldiers beneath…
Wednesday, 29 August 2012 13:40

John York returns with new poetry collections

Poet John York, whose latest work, Cold Spring Rising, was reviewed in The Smoky Mountain New two months ago, will be reading from his poetry at City Lights Bookstore in Sylva at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 1. Robert Morgan, author…
Wednesday, 29 August 2012 13:40

Maggie Valley innkeeper publishes cookbook

Ginger Shinn, owner of Smokey Shadows Lodge in Maggie Valley, released a new cookbook A Taste of Smokey Shadows Lodge. The book features more than 150 recipes for tasty dishes from appetizers to desserts. Shinn’s family has passed down many…
Let me begin by telling you that the book title above is misleading. Gerry Spence has more then a dozen published works, but I thought that his most provocative title might get your attention.  Certainly, this review will talk about BB&PPOP,…
Wednesday, 15 August 2007 00:00

Heading Home waffles but New Stories shines

Choosing the genre in which to write is, of course, a major factor in the success with which we communicate our message to others. Theodore Dalrymple, for example, has chosen the essay as his vehicle for addressing the violence and…
Wednesday, 08 August 2007 00:00

Harry — The boy who lived

By Katie Polonsky I’m a firm believer that when reading a novel, you bring to it the whole of your perspective on the world. You bring hopes, beliefs, experiences, biases. Speaking of biases, I should warn you: I’m a diehard…
Cataloochee by Wayne Caldwell. Random House, 2007. 368 pages Readers planning to attend Book Mania in Waynesville have several treats in store for them. A welcome reception for the participating authors will be held Friday evening, Aug. 3, from 6…
Jay Erskine Leutze will discuss his book, Stand Up That Mountain at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 7 at City Lights Bookstore in Sylva. Leutze’s book tells of his role in defending a small mountain town on the Appalachian Trail from a…
Wednesday, 05 September 2012 02:42

An environmental saga and a mountain story

By Brent Martin It is a rare event these days to come across a work of non-fiction dealing with any environmental issue that does not leave one with feelings of despair and loss. Author Jay Leutze, however, has given us…
The Twilight of American Culture by Morris Berman. W. W. Norton & Company, 2001. 224 pages. When I think of political curmudgeons, of gloomy prognosticators, of bleak Cassandras prophesizing doom, my mind turns to either extreme environmentalists or to right-wing…
Wednesday, 18 July 2007 00:00

Author’s bias shows through

What’s Liberal About The Liberal Arts? Classroom Politics and “Bias” in Higher Education by Michael Berube. W. W. Norton, 2006. 288 pages. In What’s Liberal About The Liberal Arts? Classroom Politics and “Bias” in Higher Education (ISBN 978-0-393-06037-9, $26.95), Michael…
Wednesday, 11 July 2007 00:00

Summertime and the reading’s hazy

On the Road by Jack Kerouac. Penguin Classics. 310 pages Summertime, and the living is easy ... For most of us Gershwin’s line remains true. The pace of life slows in the summer; the days grow longer; the evening air…
Wednesday, 12 September 2012 12:54

New book addresses Washington, D.C. gridlock

Author Jim Staggers will read from and discuss his book Messages To My Descendents — Please Fix Our Government from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Sept. 18 at the Franklin library. Staggers is a former Chief Operating Officer and vice president at APL…
Wednesday, 12 September 2012 12:53

A meet, greet and eat with Johnnie Sue Myers

Johnnie Sue Myers, author of The Gathering Place, will visit City Lights Bookstore at 1 p.m. Sept. 16. The Gathering Place is a cookbook featuring traditional Cherokee dishes, wild game preparation tips and recipes and Southern Appalachian cooking. The book…
Wednesday, 12 September 2012 12:51

As fall nears, let’s clear the clutter

By early September in these mountains the markers of autumn are very much with us. The cool nights diminish the whirring of air-conditioners; the raucous August chorus of tree frogs and crickets softens its music; a few stray leaves on…
Wednesday, 19 September 2012 13:51

Coffee with poet Katherine Soniat

Katherine Soniat will discuss her new collection, A Raft, A Boat, A Bridge, at City Lights Bookstore’s Coffee with the Poet Series continues at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 20. This collection marks Soniat’s sixth book of poetry. Originally from New…
Wednesday, 19 September 2012 13:50

New book motivated by Washington, D.C.

City Lights bookstore will host Macon County resident Jim Staggers reading from his book, Messages To My Descendents: Please Fix Our Government, at 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22, in Sylva. A retired business CEO motivated by the Washington, D.C., gridlock,…
Wednesday, 19 September 2012 13:50

Author comes to Lake Junaluska

Author Bob Plott will be the speaker for the Lake Junaluska Live and Learn Committee at 2 p.m. Sept. 20 at the Bethea Welcome Center. The Story of the Plott Hound: Strike & Stay was published in 2007 and awarded…
Wednesday, 19 September 2012 13:49

Celebrate Bilbo Baggins’ birthday

City Lights Bookstore will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the publication of The Hobbit and character Bilbo’s birthday on Saturday, Sept. 22, in Sylva. In anticipation of the December film release of the literary classic, City Lights Bookstore will have…
Wednesday, 19 September 2012 13:47

Real stories and lessons on how to tell them

Here is a book about storytelling that strikes a responsive chord in my own heart. Not only is Mary Hamilton a gifted storyteller who is in demand throughout Appalachia (and beyond); she has built a career based on identifying and preserving the…
Wednesday, 26 September 2012 13:27

Marianna Black Library celebrates freedom to read

In honor of National Banned Books Week and to celebrate the freedom to read, the Marianna Black Library in Bryson City is challenging patrons to read a challenged book. From now until Oct. 5, the Marianna Black Library will have…
Wednesday, 26 September 2012 13:26

Tweens and teens to meet at library

The “tween” writing group “Write On!” for 8- to 12-year-olds will meet at 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 4 at the Jackson County Public Library in Sylva. The group will meet twice a month in the conference room of the library. A…
Wednesday, 26 September 2012 13:25

A thoughtful examination of love and parenting

A distracted mother off to the store forgets to shut the door from the kitchen to the garage, puts her car into reverse, and drives over the two-year-old who has followed her into the garage. Late for work, a father…
Wednesday, 04 July 2007 00:00

A Frank look back

From Violins to Violence: A Memoir by Marshall Frank. Fortis Book, 2007. 308 pages In Tom Stoppard’s Lord Malquist and Mr. Moon, a character says: “My problem is that I am not frightfully interested in anything, except myself. And of…
Wednesday, 03 October 2012 20:00

Star Wars family nights in Sylva

The Jackson County Public Library and City Lights Bookstore in Sylva will both host Star Wars Family Nights this week. “May the Force Read with You,” which aims to promote reading among children, will be host at 6 p.m. Oct.…
Wednesday, 03 October 2012 19:58

Winter has come and Martin turns up the heat

Kind hearts, winter has come. That dire prediction that began over 4,000 pages ago with A Game of Thrones has been fulfilled. In this, the final (?) book in the Songs of Ice and Fire series, all of the bleak…
Wednesday, 10 October 2012 13:23

Writer talks about memoir

Jackson County Public Library in Sylva will host a book talk with Barbara Taylor Woodall on at 7 p.m. Oct. 16. Woodall will discuss her memoir, It’s Not My Mountain Anymore, which describes more than 50 years of memories of…
Wednesday, 10 October 2012 13:20

Burke again captures the essence of the Bayou

In Creole Belle (ISBN 978-1-4516-4813-3, $27.99), novelist James Lee Burke returns to a territory he now owns in the literary sense: New Orleans, the Gulf, and Southern Louisiana. Dave Robicheaux, ex-drunk, ex-member of the Big Easy’s police department, returns to…
Wednesday, 17 October 2012 13:43

Adult writing group to meet

A creative writing group for adults age 18 and over will be held at 7 p.m. Oct. 23 at the Jackson County Public Library in Sylva. This group is open to any adult who is interested in creative writing of…
Wednesday, 17 October 2012 13:42

Watkins to discuss Goll’s translation

Jackson County writer (author of the heralded travel memoir East Toward Dawn) and translator Nan Watkins will be giving a reading and discussion of Yvan Goll’s Dreamweed as part of the “Coffee with the Poet” series at 10:30 a.m. Oct.…
Wednesday, 17 October 2012 13:41

Author to speak about citizen empowerment

Paul Loeb, a writer who has spent more than 30 years researching citizen responsibility and empowerment, will deliver a lecture at 6 p.m. Oct. 24 in the theater of A.K. Hinds University Center at Western Carolina University. Loeb is the…
Wednesday, 17 October 2012 13:39

MacDonald may be innocent after all

I always thought he was guilty. Any doubts that I might have felt vanished after I read Joe McGinniss’ Fatal Vision. Jeffery MacDonald had murdered his wife and two daughters, stabbing and bludgeoning them to death in their apartment at…
Wednesday, 24 October 2012 12:01

News in brief for readers and writers

Library showcases author for book discussion  Kimberly Brock will do a presentation based on her novel, The River Witch, at 7 p.m. Oct. 30 at the Jackson County Public Library in Sylva. Brock will read selections from the book and…
Wednesday, 24 October 2012 11:58

A flawed story that is still worthwhile

Mark Helprin drives me crazy. Helprin’s novels — he is the author of A Soldier of the Great War, Freddy and Fredericka, and a half-dozen other works of fiction — remind me of my great-grandmother’s engagement ring, which I took…
Wednesday, 31 October 2012 01:17

Lahane scores with steamy suspense novel

I have been a Dennis Lehane fan for about two decades now, and after reading classics like Mystic River, Shutter Island and the short story collection, Coronado, I can easily recognize the author’s “signature” talents: cliff-hanger chapters, passages of riveting…
Wednesday, 31 October 2012 01:15

Events for readers and writers

Author’s works come to life The Touring Theater of North Carolina will present “Look Back the Maytime Days: From the pages of Fred Chappell” at 2 p.m. Nov. 15 in the Haywood Community College Auditorium. Chappell was born in Canton…
Wednesday, 07 November 2012 13:49

For the love of local bookstores

When I was a child living in Boonville, N.C., a town of 600 people, my mother would load us into the station wagon twice a year — at the start of each new school year and at Christmas — and…
Wednesday, 14 November 2012 00:00

Diversity within unity — a book for the ages

From the foothills of the Southern Appalachians, and in the tradition of such spiritual classics as Gurdjieff’s Meetings With Remarkable Men, comes Carolyn Toben’s Recovering a Sense of the Sacred: Conversations with Thomas Berry at a time that is not…
Wednesday, 21 November 2012 13:35

Novel is both shocking and admirable

Anyone who remembers Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby (1967) and the Roman Polanski film that came out about a year later, then you have a handle on a spooky plot wherein two New York parents-to-be are faced with the daunting possibility…
Wednesday, 28 November 2012 13:51

Books for holiday gifts can be a risky business

Think of the times someone has said to you: “You’ll love this book!” This well-intentioned person then shoves a book into your hands and dances off, leaving you gripping a volume, white-knuckled, you are now required to love. Though occasionally…
As the poet Yvan Goll lay in a hospital in Paris dying of leukemia, a continuous line of some of the most celebrated artists and writers of the first half of the 20th century formed to donate blood to keep…
Wednesday, 12 December 2012 14:26

Bringing out the horror of teen angst

In recent years, there has been a kind of Swedish literary invasion in America, especially in the horror genre. Perhaps the most notable is John Lindqvist, who wrote the cult classic, Let the Right One In, which became an international…
Although its publisher marketed Robert Munsch’s Love You Forever as a children’s book, this touching story of a mother’s love for her boy and the subsequent love and care of the boy for his mother in her old age soon…
Wednesday, 26 December 2012 14:42

Author to discuss AT journey

Writer Amy Allen will discuss her journey along the Appalachian Trail as she presents her book, Summoning the Mountains: Pilgrimage into Forty, at 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 5, at City Lights Bookstore in Sylva.   Allen, a recently divorced single mom,…
Wednesday, 26 December 2012 14:40

Racism and adultery drive Spencer’s novel

Daniel Emerson is afraid of black people. After a chance encounter with a group of violent African American teenagers left him with a broken wrist, a chipped tooth and an abiding belief that he is going to be killed by…
Wednesday, 02 January 2013 03:45

Novel explores the woes of rich white trash

Let me take a deep breath and see if I can get this out in one long ugly sentence:  A man has some sort of mental fugue while driving, slams into a another car, and kills two people; his married…
A half-price book sale will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19 and from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 20, at the Friends of the Jackson County Library used bookstore in Sylva. Before the sale…
Wednesday, 09 January 2013 00:00

Uncompromising, dark and a worthwhile read

A couple of years ago, I blundered into something called “The Bottom Dog Appalachian Writers Series.” Published in Ohio, this series is dedicated to showcasing “new Appalachian writers.”  When I looked at the list of writers and poets, I didn’t…
Wednesday, 16 January 2013 00:00

An America divided by class

For the past 80 years more and more Americans have linked themselves economically to the machinations of the federal government. Having come to depend so heavily on government regulations and monetary entitlements, and by this dependence having subsequently given so…
Wednesday, 23 January 2013 14:30

Historian presents a factual story of Cleopatra

“Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.” — Cicero, 106 B.C. Stacy Schiff, a Pulitzer prize-winning historian and a guest editorialist for the New York Times, has written a fascinating historical biography…
Wednesday, 27 June 2007 00:00

A clean miss

Gun Show Nation: Gun Culture and American Democracy by Joan Burbick. New Press, 2007. 288 pages. While teaching Latin at Tuscola High School in the late 1990s, I occasionally used some old copies of Jenney’s Latin I for extra exercises…
Wednesday, 20 June 2007 00:00

Literature deprived

Certain genres of literature fare better when critically judged by the standards of that particular genre rather than by any general literary criteria. Christian fiction, for example, while entertaining and appealing to a certain audience, would be buried — with…
Wednesday, 13 June 2007 00:00

Dad’s take on father’s day

Father’s Day, surely a boon to the greeting card industry and certain segments of the male apparel industry, has taken on greater meaning than ever for me this year. My own father is in reasonable good health. I am a…
A country which has accepted the mantle of “empire,’ however inimical that mantle may be to its professed destiny; a country which sells itself off to its competitors, which elevates cheap goods for consumers at the expense of its own…
Of all the Beat writers of the 1940s and 1950s — Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, John Clellon Holmes, Gary Snyder, and others — it is Jack Kerouac who most fascinates post-millennial readers. His works remain in print; he has inspired…
Wednesday, 30 May 2007 00:00

Another look at Wolfe

Thomas Wolfe: An Illustrated Biography by Ted Mitchell. Pegasus Books, 2007. 341 pages. Thirty-three years ago this month, at the dreg-ends of an evil winter and a harsh spring, I went to the library at the University of Connecticut and…
Wednesday, 23 May 2007 00:00

A hard day’s work

On Earth’s Furrowed Brow: The Appalachian Farm in Photographs by Tim Barnwell. W. W. Norton, 2007. 224 pages. For a time my father’s love affair with decaying barns and farmhouses became something of a family joke. If he decided to…
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