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Wednesday, 27 November 2013 15:58

Can you believe the gall of this grafter Jeff Minick?

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By Joe Ecclesia My name is Joe Ecclesia, and I have a bone the size of an elephant’s thigh to…
Wednesday, 20 November 2013 00:00

Tarrt delivers once again — a decade later

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I first encountered a Donna Tartt novel some 20 years ago when a friend reverently placed a copy of The…
Wednesday, 13 November 2013 14:32

Hays’ new book succeeds on several levels

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In What I Came To Tell You (Egmont Publishers, ISBN 9781606844335, $16.99), local author Tommy Hayes brings us the story…
Wednesday, 06 November 2013 02:47

Vintage King is a frightening prospect

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It has been more than 30 years since Stephen King published The Shining, but I still remember that little kid,…
Wednesday, 30 October 2013 02:01

To those teachers who exacted excellence

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Book reviews shouldn’t begin with dedications. But with Strings Attached (ISBN 978-1-4013-2466-7, $24.99) being the book under review, I feel…
Wednesday, 23 October 2013 00:00

A ‘writer’s writer’ delves into 1929 explosion

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I am convinced that author Daniel Woodrell is what is frequently referred to as “a writer’s writer.” In other words,…
Wednesday, 16 October 2013 13:43

Some old-fashioned lessons for living

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Google books on parenting, and you will find thousands — tens of thousands — of titles. There are books on…
Wednesday, 09 October 2013 02:40

A warts and all biography of a WNC original

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I first encountered Robert Henry’s name some 30 years ago in Lyman Draper’s account of the Battle of Kings Mountain…
Thursday, 03 October 2013 01:18

Jim Harrison keeps churning out quality writing

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Jim Harrison is an American phenomenon. Not only has he written more than 30 books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction…
Wednesday, 25 September 2013 15:09

Another AT book, but a new set of lessons

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An online visit reveals hundreds of books written on hiking the Appalachian Trail. These range from Bill Bryson’s A Walk…
Wednesday, 18 September 2013 14:18

New Burke novel is not to be

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In Light of the World (ISBN 978-1-4767-1076-1, $27.99), James Lee Burke once again gives readers writing cut and polished like…
Wednesday, 11 September 2013 14:42

The lost West in all its violent glory

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I have always had a fondness for great, sprawling epics, especially if they chronicle the downfall of a family/dynasty that acquired…
Wednesday, 04 September 2013 14:41

A realistic, refreshing look at teaching

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For most students, parents, and teachers, autumn rather than spring is the season of budding growth, new life, and hope.
Wednesday, 28 August 2013 03:31

Carden’s new book depicts Appalachian bestiary

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By Newton Smith • Contributor Gary Carden, local bard, playwright, host of the Liars Bench and reviewer for The Smoky Mountain…
Wednesday, 21 August 2013 13:53

Miracles and the miraculous in everyday life

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Every once in a while, we encounter a situation so strange and so far removed from the natural order of…
Wednesday, 14 August 2013 13:50

Tragic realism makes for a riveting read

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Let me begin by saying that this is a remarkable novel, and I suspect that it will be around for…
Wednesday, 07 August 2013 13:00

Prickly but also extremely insightful

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On June 24, 1993, David Gelernter, then an associate professor of computer science at Yale University, opened a package in…
Priscille Sibley’s The Promise of Stardust (ISBN 978-0-06-219417-6, 399 pages, $15.99) is a fine first novel by a woman who…
Wednesday, 24 July 2013 14:00

Dad is Fat, and comical truths about child rearing

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Thirty some years ago, my wife and I announced to my mother that we were expecting our first child. After…
Wednesday, 17 July 2013 15:02

The hard truth about the Cold War

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We Americans like to sidle around the truth nowadays, which we do by labeling ourselves relativists. Like Pontius Pilate, we…
Wednesday, 10 July 2013 13:55

Oil thicker than blood in Texas

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Reviewers of Philipp Meyer’s new novel, The Son (ISBN 978-0-06-212039-7, 561 pages, $27.99) have compared his epic story of the…
Wednesday, 03 July 2013 02:21

Kingsbury gives us a comfortable summer read

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In The Bridge (ISBN 978-1-4516-4701-3, $19.99), Karen Kingsbury treats readers to a tale of romance and tribulation centered on a…
Wednesday, 26 June 2013 00:00

King’s Joyland set in eastern North Carolina

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There is something about carnivals, amusement parks and shoddy summer circus operations that inspire a special kind of supernatural tale.…
Wednesday, 19 June 2013 13:48

The power of books to change lives

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Here are the true stories of some young people, all of them still under the age of 35. For the…
Wednesday, 12 June 2013 00:00

Morgan conjures the past with a poet skill

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Robert Morgan has a rare and cunning gift: he can sift through the detritus of the past, pluck objects and…
Wednesday, 05 June 2013 13:18

A book to help wade through self-help industry

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In The Last Self-Help Book You’ll Ever Need: Repress Your Anger, Think Negatively, Be a Good Blamer, and Throttle Your…
Wednesday, 29 May 2013 13:41

A story of violence and race in small-town N.C.

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My decision to read this “docudrama” (part memoir, part history and part detective story) was prompted by my genuine wish…
Wednesday, 22 May 2013 00:00

A fast look at a few worthwhile tomes

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Here they are, books yammering for review: a hillock of books on the floor by the desk; more books stacked…
Wednesday, 15 May 2013 14:11

Dobyns novel reveals small town underbelly

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Stephen Dobyns has written 20 novels and more than 10 volumes of poetry; however, he is difficult to “classify.” His writing…
Wednesday, 08 May 2013 00:00

A rural bookstore that beat the odds

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“Bookshops are magic.” This quotation, buried in the middle of Wendy Welch’s The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap: A…
Wednesday, 01 May 2013 01:48

For your culinary and reading pleasure

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Most booklovers have suffered that “Oh, no” moment when a friend, with nothing but the best of intentions, presses an…
Wednesday, 24 April 2013 01:39

Tension-soaked novel is one of Appalachia’s best

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Mark Powell’s The Dark Corner is probably the best Appalachian novel that I have read in the last decade. It is…
Wednesday, 17 April 2013 13:28

History of Cherokee War is top notch

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We Americans sometimes forget how new we are to the history of the world. Here in Western North Carolina, for…
Wednesday, 10 April 2013 14:20

Movies, book explore travails of Memphis Three

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They were known as the West Memphis Three: Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr., three teenagers who were accused…
Wednesday, 03 April 2013 19:48

To bee or not to be

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With its title Colony Collapse Disorder taken from a recent mysterious collapse of honeybee populations in North America, Keith Flynn’s…
Wednesday, 27 March 2013 13:41

The unforgettable life of Nancy Silver

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Recently, when I was surfing through a depressing collection of nighttime TV programs — religious rants, psychics, cooking shows and…
Wednesday, 20 March 2013 13:49

An insightful look at guerilla warfare

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Since the Second World War, Americans have lived by the old dictum that only the dead have seen the end…
Wednesday, 06 March 2013 16:04

Rash’s Appalachia is both rich and flawed

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Ron Rash’s latest collection of short stories echos a theme that runs through all of his works: an awareness that Appalachia…
Wednesday, 27 February 2013 00:00

Final volume of Churchill biography a long-awaited gem

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William Manchester, author of a number of best-selling books, including The Death of A President, American Caesar, and Goodbye, Darkness,…
Wednesday, 20 February 2013 15:01

1967 novel sheds light on obscure mass drowning

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In recent years, I have become interested in an obscure incident that occurred in Jackson County in 1882 — the…
Wednesday, 13 February 2013 13:39

To be (born) or not to be

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Since reading Ben Wattenberg’s The Birth Dearth 25 years ago, the subject of demography has fascinated me. This past week…
Wednesday, 06 February 2013 14:57

Zombie lore, one bite at a time

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If you are literate and moderately aware of what passes for entertainment in film, popular novels and comics, then you…
Of all the Beat writers of the 1940s and 1950s — Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, John Clellon Holmes, Gary Snyder,…
Wednesday, 23 January 2013 14:30

Historian presents a factual story of Cleopatra

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“Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.” — Cicero, 106 B.C. Stacy…
Wednesday, 16 January 2013 00:00

An America divided by class

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For the past 80 years more and more Americans have linked themselves economically to the machinations of the federal government.…
Wednesday, 09 January 2013 00:00

Uncompromising, dark and a worthwhile read

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A couple of years ago, I blundered into something called “The Bottom Dog Appalachian Writers Series.” Published in Ohio, this…
Wednesday, 02 January 2013 03:45

Novel explores the woes of rich white trash

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Let me take a deep breath and see if I can get this out in one long ugly sentence:  A…
Wednesday, 26 December 2012 14:40

Racism and adultery drive Spencer’s novel

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Daniel Emerson is afraid of black people. After a chance encounter with a group of violent African American teenagers left…
Wednesday, 19 December 2012 00:00

Re-discovering a child’s outlook and a sense of humor

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Although its publisher marketed Robert Munsch’s Love You Forever as a children’s book, this touching story of a mother’s love…