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Wednesday, 24 February 2010 17:50

One fateful night

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The Turnaround by George Pelecanos. Little, Brown and Company, 2009. 320 pages On a sweltering summer night in 1972, three…
Wednesday, 17 February 2010 17:10

A book about beer, food, and Gnometown cooking

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Cooking with wine is familiar. Cajun chef Justin Wilson, one of television’s first real food celebrities, liberally tipped Chablis into…
Wednesday, 10 February 2010 17:04

Power struggle

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Enemy of God by Bernard Cornwell. Saint Martins Press, 1998. 397 pages Several years ago, when I was reading everything…
Wednesday, 03 February 2010 15:01

Fitzgerald comes to life in Asheville

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The Fitzgerald Ruse by Mark De Castrique. Poisoned Pen Press, 2009. 250 pages. Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, and magazines like…
Wednesday, 03 February 2010 15:01

An American original

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Devil’s Dream by Madison Smartt Bell. Pantheon, 2009. 352 pages. Although several biographies of Nathan Bedford Forrest have found publishers…
Wednesday, 27 January 2010 17:37

A different take on a legend

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The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell. Saint Martin’s Press, 1997. I was probably 10 years old when I discovered King…
Wednesday, 20 January 2010 16:12

A tale of both despair and hope

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Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath by Elizabeth and Michael Norman. Farrar,…
Wednesday, 13 January 2010 16:12

Suspenseful guest drives novel

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For some 30 years now, Bernard Cornwell has been one of the most prolific writers in the western hemisphere. With…
Wednesday, 06 January 2010 15:43

Characters mirror SMN readers

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Rain Gods by James Lee Burke. Simon and Schuster, 2009. 448 pages. Readers of this column know that some authors…
Drood by Dan Simmons. Little, Brown & Company, 2009. 775 pages. I must admit, I’ve never been much of a…
Wednesday, 23 December 2009 13:45

Love and sonnets meet in Shakespeare’s Italy

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The Sonnet Lover by Carol Goodman. Ballantine Books, 2007. 368 pages. In The Sonnet Lover (Ballantine Books, ISBN 978-0-345-47957-0, $24.95),…
Wednesday, 16 December 2009 12:59

Savagery taints classic town in King’s new novel

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Under the Dome by Stephen King. Scribner, 2009. 1,074 pages Before I had read 20 pages of Stephen King’s new…
Wednesday, 09 December 2009 15:13

Of golf, relationships and life

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A Son of the Game: A Story of Golf, Going Home, and Sharing Life’s Lessons by James Dodson. Algonquin Books,…
Wednesday, 25 November 2009 14:55

Judgment day arrives

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The Cleansing by Ben Eller. Fireside Publications, 2009. 292 pages In Ben Eller’s science fiction novel, The Cleansing, (2020), progress…
Wednesday, 18 November 2009 14:10

Eli Book takes us back to a nostalgic time

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Eli the Good by Silas House. Candlewick Press, 2009. 295 pages Eli Book, the 10-year-old narrator/protagonist of Silas House’s new…
Wednesday, 11 November 2009 13:37

Typical Zombie fare

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If you are a fan of the apocalypse movies that are currently common fare in American theaters, you will immediately…
Wednesday, 04 November 2009 20:00

Ivey’s ‘Up River’ offers valuable lessons

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Up River: A Novel of Attempted Restoration by George Ivey. Dog Year, 2009. 304 Pages. George Ivey’s Up River: A…
Wednesday, 28 October 2009 20:24

A peculiar angst

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Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book by Walker Percy. Picador, 2000. 272 pages. Walker Percy not only wrote…
Wednesday, 21 October 2009 19:53

Whimsical tales defy explanation

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Willful Creatures Stories by Aimee Bender. Doubleday & Company, 2005. 208 pages Recently, Garrison Keilor mentioned a new writer, Aimee…
Wednesday, 14 October 2009 16:04

A memoir about misguided parents

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Lies My Mother Never Told Me by Kaylie Jones. William Morrow, 2009. 284 pages Memoirs by children of famous people…
Wednesday, 07 October 2009 15:27

Kephart’s novel a time capsule from bygone era

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Among the varied “revelations” brought to light during the celebrations attending the 75th Anniversary of the Great Smoky Mountains National…
Wednesday, 30 September 2009 19:09

Rebellion reigns in historical novel

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Devil’s Brood: The Last Days of the Tempestuous Marriage of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine by Sharon Kay Penman.…
Wednesday, 23 September 2009 18:17

Film highlights Asheville’s many offerings

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“The Spirit of Asheville” (video) by Arthur Hancock and Katie Brugger. Time Capsule Video: Highlands. Running Time: 73 minutes. The…
Wednesday, 16 September 2009 15:51

Entering the mind of a terrorist

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First up for review this week is Piers Paul Read’s The Death of a Pope (Ignatius Press, ISBN 978-1-58617-295-4), the…
Wednesday, 09 September 2009 15:01

The dark side of the Romantics

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The Monsters: Mary Shelley and the Curse of Frankenstein by Dorothy and Thomas Hobbler. Little, Brown and Company. 374 pages.…
Wednesday, 02 September 2009 14:46

Vivid descriptions fail to save flawed book

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South of Broad by Pat Conroy. Nan A. Talese, 2009. 528 pages. In his latest novel, South of Broad (ISBN…
Wednesday, 26 August 2009 14:57

A force of lyrical storytelling

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Tender Graces by Kathryn Magendie. Bell Bridge Books, 2009. 315 pages Some of the most poignant passages in literature are…
Wednesday, 19 August 2009 14:15

Goodman’s second ‘classics’ story

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The Night Villa by Carol Goodman. Ballantine Books, 2008. 413 pages. Over the last decade, Carol Goodman has rightly earned…
Wednesday, 12 August 2009 13:47

Oxford American: The best magazine ever

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There aren’t many things that cause my weary heart to quicken. The local bookstore, Netflix, rain crows and, yes, the…
Wednesday, 12 August 2009 13:28

Mountain granny comes to life in book by former WCU student

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Former WCU student Matthew Link Baker will read from his new book, My Mountain Granny: The Story of Evelyn Howell…
Wednesday, 05 August 2009 20:14

Particular parables and perverse ponderings

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Willful Creatures Stories by Aimee Bender. Doubleday & Company. 208 pages. Recently, Garrison Keilor mentioned a new writer, Aimee Bender…
Wednesday, 29 July 2009 19:11

Toole explores boxing from inside the ring

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Pound for Pound by F.X. Toole. HarperCollins, 2007. 416 pages. Million Dollar Baby by F.X. Toole. Harper Perennial 2005. 256…
Wednesday, 22 July 2009 18:49

Don West’s affinity for Appalachia

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A Hard Journey by James J. Lorence. University of Illinois Press, 2009. 344 pages. Once on a warm, summer afternoon…
Wednesday, 15 July 2009 19:47

Chick-lit at its finest

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Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Pattillo. Guideposts, 2009. 288 pages Art and literary whodunits are so plentiful these…
Wednesday, 08 July 2009 18:19

Take a chance on Ravens

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When a friend sent me an advanced reading copy of Ravens with a note that said, “There is no one…
Wednesday, 01 July 2009 17:30

Freaks and morality

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Flannery: A Life of Flannery O’Connor by Brad Gooch. Little, Brown and Company, 2009. 464 pages. “Whenever I am asked…
Wednesday, 24 June 2009 16:00

Humanizing literature

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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Dial Press. 277 pages For…
Wednesday, 17 June 2009 19:18

Snippets from a poet’s life

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Fall of Frost by Brian Hall. Penguin Group, 2008. 352 pages Since his death in 1963, Robert Frost has come…
Wednesday, 10 June 2009 19:16

Recreating the past with nostalgic

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Remembering Henderson County by Louise Bailey. History Press, 2005. 144 pages. In Louise Bailey’s Remembering Henderson County, the author recreates…
Wednesday, 10 June 2009 19:08

Former Mountaineer publisher puts together Aleutian book

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Photographer Ken Wilson of Waynesville recently published his first book, The Aleutian Islands of Alaska, Living on the Edge. The…
Wednesday, 03 June 2009 18:44

Patriot’s story is unflinching, honest

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American Patriot: The Life and Wars of Colonel Bud Day by Robert Coram. Little, Brown and Company, 2007. Robert Coram’s…
Wednesday, 27 May 2009 17:33

Death in the arctic

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The Terror by Dan Simmons. Little, Brown and Company. 2007. 769 pages. Dear readers, let’s begin by establishing two contrary…
Wednesday, 13 May 2009 16:52

Remembering Popcorn

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To tell you the truth, when I read that some woman claiming to be Popcorn Sutton’s daughter was publishing a…
Wednesday, 06 May 2009 16:19

Finding distinction in literature

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The Genius by Jesse Kellerman. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2008. 384 pages Sixty years ago, Graham Greene, one of the great…
Wednesday, 29 April 2009 16:57

Dispatches from the kinky South

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Surreal South: an Anthology of Short Fiction and Poetry edited by Laura Benedict & Pinckney Benedict. Winston-Salem: Press 53 $19.95…
Wednesday, 22 April 2009 16:45

Bradbury succeeds again with new novel

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We’ll Always Have Paris by Ray Bradbury. William Morrow, 2009. 224 pages Ray Bradbury was born in Waukegan, Ill., —…
Wednesday, 15 April 2009 16:15

Everyone's mother

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Mother Jones by Elliott J. Gorn. Hill and Wang, 2002. 408 pages. When Mother Jones celebrated her (allegedly) 100th birthday…
Wednesday, 08 April 2009 15:53

Anne Rice’s spiritual journey

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Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession by Anne Rice. Alfred A. Knopf, 2008. 256 pages. The books are piling…
Wednesday, 01 April 2009 15:36

A gem of a novel

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The Missing by Tim Gautreaux. Knopf Double Publishing Group, 2009. 384 pages. This is a novel that seems to vibrate…