The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Opinion & Letters to the Editor

September 26, 2012

All kinds of North Carolina books

Wednesday, September 26, 2012 — Summer has suddenly come to an end. And I bet there is a stack of books by your bed or somewhere in your house, ones you meant to read this summer.

Watch out.

Here comes another batch of new North Carolina books, some of which belong at the top of your pile and others you ought to know about, even though they might not end up in your reading pile.

It has been gone for 50 years, but people still talk about the Dixie Classic, that holiday basketball tournament with Duke, Carolina, State and Wake and four more of the best teams in the country. Greenville’s Bethany Bradsher, author of “The Classic: How Everett Case and His Tournament Brought Big-Time Basketball to the South,” follows the Classic from its origins to its scandalous end. She will be the guest on UNC-TV’s North Carolina Bookwatch on Sept. 28 at 9:30 p.m. and Sept. 30 at 5 p.m.

Charlotte poet Judy Goldman’s two novels, “Early Leaving” and “The Slow Way Back,” explored the complicated, beautiful and painful relationships that come with being part of a family. Now she turns her poet’s and storyteller’s talents to a memoir, “Losing My Sister.” It tells the story of her family and her complicated and sometimes hurtful relationship with her sister. Their anger at each other runs side by side with their love. It is a poignant relationship that will resonate with everyone who has a sibling. (Oct. 5, 7).

Ten years ago, David Cecelski’s great book, “The Waterman's Song,” introduced me to Abraham Galloway, an ex-slave from Wilmington who became an incredible leader of blacks in North Carolina during the Civil War and later in state government. I became fascinated with Galloway and wrote then, “He is my candidate for North Carolina’s greatest civil rights hero. He packed into his short life a story of an escape from slavery, intrigue and dedication, leadership and audacity and political achievement that is as inspiring as the tales of Robin Hood, King David, and Rob Roy MacGregor.” I waited a long time for Cecelski to tell me more. Now he has done it with his new book, “The Fire of Freedom: Abraham Galloway and the Slaves’ Civil War.” (Oct. 12, 14).

Longtime Charlotte lawyer Jon Buchan represents newspapers and once was a reporter for The Charlotte Observer. Now he is a novelist. His powerful first book,  “Code of the Forest,” is about inside politics in both Carolinas. Political and business leaders look out for each other based on loyalties formed in exclusive prep schools and at hunting lodges deep in the forest. Buchan also takes his readers through the terrible and challenging mess a libel action lawsuit can be. (Oct. 19, 21).

Novelist Lee Smith says that this book is “deeply moving, disturbing, haunting, and important.” She is talking about “Leaving Tuscaloosa,” the debut novel of Walter Bennett, a former lawyer and judge. He is also known as the husband of N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences retiring director, Betsy Bennett. Walter Bennett’s “Leaving Tuscaloosa” is set in the 1960s and features two Tuscaloosa, Ala., teenagers, one white, Richeboux Branscomb, the other black, Acee Waites, who, although they are the same age and live in the same town, hardly ever cross paths, until their parallel lives explode tragically and memorably. (Oct. 26, 28).

One of the greatest horrors of slavery was the breakup of families. A husband sold away from his wife, a mother from her child. UNC-Chapel Hill Professor Heather Andrea Williams tells another chapter in that story. Her new book, “Help Me to Find My People: The African American Search for Family Lost in Slavery” relates how separated families attempted to find each other and reunite, before and after the Civil War. (Nov. 2, 4).

 

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