The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Opinion & Letters to the Editor

November 7, 2012

North Carolina books for post-election reading, holiday giving

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 — Just in time to bury your head in something other than politics, here is a new group of books to help you forget any disappointing election results.

There are new authors you should know about even if you are not ready to read their work, and there might be a good holiday gift for a hard-to-please friend in the list I am sharing with you today.

Wilmington’s John Jeremiah Sullivan may be better known nationally than he is in his adopted home state. His reputation as an insightful and incisive essayist remind some critics of Tom Wolfe in his early days or of the biting writing of North Carolina’s Hal Crowther.

A few weeks ago The New York Times Magazine published Sullivan’s long article on Venus and Serena Williams and their complicated family. The Nov. 4 Times Book Review included his review of “The Way the World Works,” by Nicholson Baker. Sullivan is hot literary property. His latest book, “Pulphead: Essays,” a collection of some of his best work, garnered worshipful reviews in literary circles. He will be the guest on North Carolina Bookwatch this Friday at 9:30 p.m. and Sunday at 5 p.m.

Can a psychotherapist take the insights she learns from her profession and use them as a novelist to create fictional characters whose real strengths and weaknesses come together to make them compelling? Raleigh author Diane Chamberlain has done it over and over since 1986 with a series of successful novels. Her latest, “The Good Father,” follows a struggling almost homeless father and his 4-year-old daughter as they confront hardened criminals while finding help from a surprising group of North Carolinians (Nov. 16, 18).

In 1968 a train carried the body of the assassinated Robert Kennedy from New York to Washington for burial beside his slain brother. Millions lined the route. At each place the train passed people living their separate lives. Those lives inspired a series of fictional stories with different characters, all compelling. North Carolina native David Rowell brings these stories and characters together in “The Train of Small Mercies” (Nov. 23, 25).

Two of the best new books are ones you cannot have read yet. Lee Smith and Jill McCorkle will talk about McCorkle’s “Life After Life” and Smith’s “Guests on Earth,” which will be published next year by Algonquin Books. Never before on North Carolina Bookwatch have two authors talked about new books that are not yet on sale. The guests will tell viewers how they can get first copies of the books by providing support for UNC-TV and Bookwatch (Nov. 30 only).

Madison County, north of Asheville and up along the Tennessee border, has been the location of two novels featured recently on Bookwatch: Ron Rash’s “The Cove” and Wiley Cash’s “A Land More Kind than Home.”

Now there is a third fine Madison County novel. Terry Roberts’ “A Short Time to Stay Here” is a story of World War I and more than 2,000 Germans interned in a resort hotel in Hot Springs. It is a story of love, killing and conflict of different cultures that come together in explosive and surprising fashion (Dec. 7 only).

His distinctive voice might be recognized by more North Carolinians than any other public figure. When you hear that familiar “voice of the Tar Heels” you know it is Woody Durham, who for 40 years described UNC-Chapel Hill football and basketball and  now shares his personal story and what he learned about North Carolina from his intimate connections and friendships. It is all part of his memoir, “Woody Durham: A Tar Heel Voice” (Dec. 14, 16).

 

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Opinion & Letters to the Editor
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