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Wednesday, 15 July 2015 17:53

Manana is a shocking, dark and fantastic read

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I have been waiting for this book for a long time.  Back in 1978, I read Falling Angel, which was that…
Wednesday, 08 July 2015 14:53

Keats’ Roman home honors one of our great poets

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It is not yet ten o’clock on this Saturday morning in late June, and already Rome’s Spanish Steps and the…
Wednesday, 01 July 2015 14:51

Scotland pays homage to its writers

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With literary tours, literary pub crawls, monuments, plaques, and museums, Scotland honors her writers.
Haworth, West Riding of Yorkshire, England.  It’s 4:30 in the morning, Sunday June 18, and I stood a few moments…
Wednesday, 17 June 2015 15:15

Stratford-on-Avon: in search of ‘The Bard’

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It is mid-June in England, and the skies are a brilliant blue. Sunshine spills on the street and the clipped…
Wednesday, 10 June 2015 16:29

The literary signposts will point the way

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In the opening pages of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, we meet Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit who treasures his snug home…
Wednesday, 03 June 2015 16:11

A fantastic collection of life-changing stories

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I have always been a Russell Banks fan, and when I look back over the last 40 years, he has…
Wednesday, 27 May 2015 15:45

Ten years of soaking up great books

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About two months ago, I began culling books from my shelves. I live in an apartment with several thousand books,…
Some 30 years ago, I saw a disturbing film entitled “Koyaanisqatsi.” The title comes from a Hopi word meaning “unbalanced life.”…
Wednesday, 13 May 2015 15:04

A place where home is an elusive ideal

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In the last decade, British authorities uncovered evidence of massive sexual abuse and human trafficking in Rotherham, South Yorkshire. Two…
Back in the days when I still believed in Santa Claus (well, actually I still believe, I just no longer…
Wednesday, 29 April 2015 02:28

A withering cultural critic takes aim

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In Withering Slights: The Bent Pin Collection (National Review Books, 2015, ISBN 978-0-9847650-3-4, 186 pages, $24.95), Florence King demonstrates once…
Wednesday, 22 April 2015 15:25

Dam politics and freedom of religion

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The growing threat of drought in the Southeast and the problems of “water politics” has prodded the memory of many…
Wednesday, 15 April 2015 15:45

Fate and fortune sing in new novel

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Spartanburg poet and nonfiction writer John Lane has broken out of his comfort zone and journeyed into the netherworld of…
Wednesday, 08 April 2015 14:49

Remembering the horrors of Europe’s wars

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Many Americans — and I count myself among them — are often hard on Europeans when it comes to issues…
Wednesday, 01 April 2015 15:19

An outlandish life makes for hilarious novel

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Irish novelist Kennedy Marr is making millions of dollars through the sale of his books and as a Hollywood scriptwriter.…
Wednesday, 25 March 2015 15:48

A story that makes one look differently at life

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Like some other readers I know, my taste in books these last 20 years or so has shifted from fiction…
Wednesday, 18 March 2015 15:54

Below ‘the line,’ it’s a world unto itself

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I spent a week reading this novel, and each time I laid it down, I expected to find a damp…
Wednesday, 11 March 2015 13:56

Book captures turn-of-the-century north Georgia

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In Annaliese From Off (Five Points Press, ISBN 978-0-692-24434-0, 362 pages, $15.99), Lindy Keane Carter gives us a rich, old-fashioned…
Wednesday, 04 March 2015 15:16

First novel by local writer strikes a chord

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Eighteen-year-old Jacob McNeely, a shy high school dropout from Walter Middleton High School in Jackson County, North Carolina, seems resigned to…
Wednesday, 25 February 2015 15:40

Words, language and grammar do matter

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“In a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” — George Orwell We live in an…
Wednesday, 18 February 2015 15:46

Larry Brown earns his spot in Southern pantheon

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One of my bookshelves is reserved for books that I have not read, but that I am saving for some…
Wednesday, 11 February 2015 15:10

Guys, don’t fear Valentine’s Day, embrace it

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Note to readers: this is one of the few times I have written a column addressed to one sex —…
Wednesday, 04 February 2015 15:49

King’s newest novel is as good as it gets

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During the past 60 years, I have maintained a hearty appreciation for what is called “fantasy/horror” literature. I guess it…
Wednesday, 28 January 2015 16:02

Advice for becoming a body ‘gardener’

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In French Women Don’t Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure, Mirielle Guiliano produced a No. 1 New York…
Wednesday, 21 January 2015 15:18

Painted Horses is one for the ages

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When people ask me what I’ve been doing this fall, I tell them I’ve been on a reading jag —…
Wednesday, 07 January 2015 16:47

Regrets: books I now know I shall never read

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For many of us, the bells ringing in the New Year carry a bittersweet tune. We look forward to better…
Wednesday, 31 December 2014 15:59

The fascinating evolution of the fool killer

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One of the oldest traditional folktales, ‘Godfather Death,’ exists in all cultures; however, the tone of the stories may vary…
Wednesday, 24 December 2014 00:00

A renewed appreciation for ‘The Great Gatsby’

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In 1977 I fell in love with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. That was a year of deep reading…
Wednesday, 17 December 2014 15:50

Country noir masterpiece gets its due — again

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One of the things that I admire about the New York Review of Books is a special honor that they…
Wednesday, 10 December 2014 15:38

Start your holiday shopping at the bookstore

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For all of you who haven’t started your holiday shopping yet, for you who scorn Black Friday, who keep telling…
Wednesday, 03 December 2014 16:01

Tolle Lege: Reading that changed my Life

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When I was 6 years old, I entered the first grade at Boonville Elementary School. For months, various adults had…
Wednesday, 26 November 2014 16:22

Is democracy bad for the country?

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The story goes that as Benjamin Franklin was leaving the final session of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, a Mrs.…
Wednesday, 19 November 2014 16:00

Teen horror sequel is a wild ride

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About three years ago, I reviewed a bloody little horror tale filled with black humor called Breed. It was a…
Wednesday, 12 November 2014 16:26

Book explores clash between religion and science

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In Lauren Grodstein’s novel The Explanation For Everything (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2013, 336 pages, $24.95), we meet Andrew…
Wednesday, 29 October 2014 16:10

Celebrating the ever-popular essay

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This week it’s time to break out the champagne, pop that cork, and raise a flute of bubbly to the…
Wednesday, 22 October 2014 15:01

Being manipulated by a book not all bad

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Gone Girl is currently the most popular novel in America and it has been around since 2012; it is also…
Wednesday, 15 October 2014 14:49

Complicated, confusing and utterly fascinating

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I am intimidated by this book. In fact, this is one of the most challenging reviews that I have ever undertaken.…
Wednesday, 08 October 2014 14:52

Learning how to organize information overload

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Twenty-five years ago, while under a good deal of pressure and stress, I began noticing I was forgetting things. I…
Wednesday, 01 October 2014 16:09

The end is near — now what?

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When the novel, The Leftovers came out several years ago, it was an immediate success. (Oprah gave it a significant boost…
Wednesday, 24 September 2014 15:24

A realist writer examines uncomfortable topics

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“Evil is no more at an end than History, and so long as there are men there will be no…
Wednesday, 17 September 2014 14:54

Collective guilt permeates novel’s characters

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A little over one year ago, Mark Powell published The Dark Corner, a novel that was set in the northwest…
Wednesday, 10 September 2014 20:34

Time to clear the desk of books waiting for review

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For many reasons, this summer in particular afforded many opportunities for reading. During a 60-hour stay at Figure Eight Island,…
Wednesday, 03 September 2014 15:02

A dark world explored by a gifted writer

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In case you haven’t noticed, let me call your attention to a disturbing fact regarding current Appalachian literature: some critics have been…
Wednesday, 27 August 2014 04:07

Book challenges me to critique the critic

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In Why Read?, University of Virginia professor Mark Edmundson discusses the practice of student reviews of a teacher, then writes:…
Wednesday, 20 August 2014 14:26

Poems to honor the insatiable mystery of cats

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By Michael Beadle • Contributing writer Anyone who’s spent serious time with a cat knows there are a myriad of ways…
Wednesday, 13 August 2014 14:06

Novel explores life in Chairman Mao’s China

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After running into numerous critical references to this little novel, which has won a series of international awards and has…
Wednesday, 06 August 2014 14:19

A critic’s guide to literary genres renamed

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Not so long ago, a neighbor in the building where I love in Montford, a budding comedian in her early…
Wednesday, 30 July 2014 13:35

Stephen King’s newest is more noir than horror

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Each time Stephen King is interviewed, he finds himself responding to the same question: “Where do you get your ideas?”…