Book Reviews

There are Worse Places to Be Targeted

In her debut novel, true-crime writer Phyllis Gobbell turns to fictional mysteries in Provence

by Faye Jones

April 28, 2015 Phyllis Gobbell may be better known as the co-author of two true-crime books featuring murders in Nashville—A Season of Darkness and An Unfinished Canvas—but she is also a widely published writer of short fiction. So it should be no surprise that her first novel, Pursuit in Provence, is a worthy addition to the cozy-mystery field. Gobbell will discuss Pursuit in Provence at Parnassus Books in Nashville on May 3 at 2 p.m.

Published Tuesday, 28 April 2015

No Knack for Volition

In Hausfrau, Jill Alexander Essbaum invokes Anna Karenina and Emma Bovary to create her heroine’s erotic misadventures

by Emily Choate

April 27, 2015 When Anna—the ex-pat heroine of Jill Alexander Essbaum’s debut novel, Hausfrau—falls into an extramarital tangle with a fellow foreigner, the affair seems contrary to her entire nature as a person and threatens the passive surface of her life. Jill Alexander Essbaum will discuss Hausfrau at The Skillery in Nashville on May 1, 2015, at 7 p.m. The event, sponsored by The Porch Writers’ Collective and Parnassus Books, is free and open to the public.

Published Monday, 27 April 2015

Movie Magic

Corey Mesler’s Memphis Movie is a wild ride of a novel

by Maria Browning

April 21, 2015 An almost-washed-up movie director returns to his hometown to make an indie film that just might salvage his career. That’s the premise of Memphis Movie, Corey Mesler’s wild ride of a novel, which combines Hollywood cynicism with Memphis soul to create a comic tale with a sweet afterglow. Mesler will read from his novel at Burke’s Book Store in Memphis on April 30, 2015, at 5:30 p.m.

Published Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Enough Light to Prove the World Exists

In Crimes Against Birds, Denton Loving tends the landscapes, and dreamscapes, of Appalachia

by Emily Choate

April 17, 2015 In Denton Loving’s debut poetry collection, Crimes Against Birds, the rhythms of the waking world and the dream world hold equal power. Set among the narrow mountain roads, apple orchards, and cattle pastures of southern Appalachia, these poems push beyond bucolic portraits of nature. They ask us to wake up even as we descend into dreams.

Published Friday, 17 April 2015

Something Curious to Write About

A revealing one-sided correspondence is at the heart of Dear Hank Williams by Kimberly Willis Holt

by Tracy Barrett

April 16, 2015 In Dear Hank Williams, National Book Award-winning children’s author Kimberly Willis Holt tells the story of an eleven-year-old in 1940s Louisiana through letters the girl writes to Hank Williams. Holt will appear at The Booksellers at Laurelwood in Memphis on April 22 at 6:30 p.m.

Published Thursday, 16 April 2015

Tax Fraud

The Patriot Threat, Steve Berry’s new thriller, ponders what it would mean if the federal income tax had never been properly ratified

by Kathryn Justice Leache

April 15, 2015 In The Patriot Threat, Steve Berry’s latest thriller, Cotton Malone searches for evidence that the Sixteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution has been illegal from its inception—and that for more than a hundred years all federal income tax has been collected fraudulently. Berry will appear at the Nashville Public Library on April 22, 2015, at 6:15 p.m. as part of the Salon@615 series.

Published Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Running Out of Truth

In What Comes Next and How to Like It, memoirist Abigail Thomas explores betrayal and loss and other parts of life that cannot be understood at a remove

by Beth Waltemath

April 14, 2015 What Comes Next and How to Like It, Abigail Thomas’s newest memoir, both exemplifies and transcends its genre as Thomas meditates on what it means to edit life down to essentials: love, forgiveness, pleasure, and letting go. Thomas will appear at Parnassus Books in Nashville on April 21, 2015, at 6:30 p.m

Published Tuesday, 14 April 2015

L.A. Dark

In Sweet Nothing, mystery writer Richard Lange draws terse poetry from the lives of downtrodden Angelinos

by Ed Tarkington

April 10, 2015 Recovering drug addicts, compulsive gamblers, teenage mothers of teenage mothers, alcoholic philanderers—these are Richard Lange’s people. In his new collection, Sweet Nothing, Lange improbably draws elegant poetry and tragic, lingering beauty out of the thwarted, misbegotten denizens of twenty-first century Los Angeles. He will appear at The Booksellers at Laurelwood in Memphis at 6:30 p.m. on April 17, 2015.

Published Friday, 10 April 2015

Shake It Off

In So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, Jon Ronson peers into the Internet abyss and challenges haters not to hate

by Steve Haruch

April 8, 2015Jon Ronson’s So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed examines the consequences—intended and otherwise—of public shaming via the Internet. The book features interviews with otherwise ordinary people made infamous by relatively harmless missteps gone viral. Ronson will appear at Parnassus Books in Nashville on April 14, 2015, at 6:30 p.m.

Published Wednesday, 8 April 2015

A Finely Drawn Character

Robert Gipe’s illustrated debut novel, Trampoline, introduces a troubled teen coming of age during an Appalachian coal war

by Michael Ray Taylor

April 7, 2015 It’s been a while since anyone produced a great American coming-of-age-novel, but Kingsport native Robert Gipe hits the mark with Trampoline, an inventive debut set in the coal country of Eastern Kentucky. Narrator Dawn Jewell, fifteen, is as smart as Scout Finch, more profane than Holden Caulfield, and as tough in a fight as Mattie Ross. Gipe tells her story not only in flawless prose but also with 220 comics-style drawings that keep the book grounded in the world of an Appalachian teenager.

Published Tuesday, 7 April 2015

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