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Wednesday, 28 April 2010 17:37

Taking readers down a deep spiral

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The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Penguin Books, 2005. 487 pagesLet’s begin with a marvelous story —…
Wednesday, 21 April 2010 17:37

Bring poetry to the people

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“April is the cruelest of months, breeding/ lilacs out of the dead land” — so wrote T.S. Eliot in the…
Wednesday, 14 April 2010 17:37

A modern take on Chaucer’s classic

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eoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales: a Retelling by Peter Ackroyd. Viking Press, 2009. 436 pages Being an old English teacher,…
Wednesday, 07 April 2010 17:37

Obsessing over grammar

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Twelve years ago, while teaching Latin at a local high school, I was discussing a point of grammar — I…
Readers will be in for a surprise when thumbing through the pages of the all-Cherokee issue of Appalachian Heritage literary…
Horns by Joe Hill. William Morrow Publishers, 2010. 370 pages. Ignatius William Perrish (“Iggy” to his friends) awoke one morning…
Wednesday, 24 March 2010 19:03

Exploring the legacy of Ayn Rand

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In Ayn Rand and the World She Made (ISBN 978-0-385-51399-9, Doubleday, 568 pages, $35), Anne C. Heller has given readers…
Wednesday, 10 March 2010 16:12

A requiem for Cataloochee

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Requiem by Fire by Wayne Caldwell. Random House, 2009. 335 pages Dear readers, if you have some slight respect for…
Wednesday, 03 March 2010 16:12

A guidebook for raising boys

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Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys by Stephen James and David Thomas. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2009. 368 pages.…
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…