Book Reviews

Mother Love

In her latest novel, The Midwife, Jolina Petersheim ponders what it means to be a mother

by Faye Jones

October 23, 2014 In Dry Hollow, Tennessee, Hopen Haus takes in unwed pregnant women, and head midwife Rhoda Mummau struggles to provide the best care for them even as she keeps the whole Mennonite community at arm’s length to protect a secret from her own past. For her new novel, The Midwife, Jolina Petersheim taps her Mennonite heritage to consider the question of what exactly makes a woman a mother.

Published Thursday, 23 October 2014

Clever Monster

In Octopus, Richard Schweid considers the cephalopod

by Maria Browning

October 22, 2013 Richard Schweid, a Nashville native who now lives in Barcelona, has written books on eels and cockroaches, and with Octopus he continues his fascination with the less-cute creatures of the natural world. This lively book introduces readers to a creature who is strange, tasty, and surprisingly intelligent.

Published Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Race and Justice in Reconstruction-Era New Orleans

Michael A. Ross recovers the fascinating story of a forgotten kidnapping case that reveals the complexities of Reconstruction-era politics

by Peter Kuryla

October 21, 2014 In The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case, historian Michael Ross adapts the genres of true-crime narrative and courtroom drama to recover a forgotten story that captured national attention nearly 150 years ago. In clear, bright prose Ross deftly sorts through the complexities of Reconstruction-era politics to tell the story of two mixed-race women accused of abducting a white toddler. He will appear at Parnassus Books in Nashville on October 28, 2014, at 6:30 p.m.

Published Tuesday, 21 October 2014

When It Works, It Never Ends

Michael S. Roth argues for the necessity of a liberal-arts education

by Tristan Charles

October 17, 2014 Liberal education, argues Michael S. Roth, is a tool that “matters far beyond the university because it increases our capacity to understand the world, contribute to it, and reshape ourselves. When it works, it never ends.” Roth will give a free public lecture at Rhodes College in Memphis on October 23, 2014, at 6 p.m.

Published Friday, 17 October 2014

Long Player

Sparks fly from poetry, prose, art, and music in Language Lessons, the first title released by Nashville’s Third Man Books

by Randy Fox

October 16, 2014 The first publication from Nashville’s Third Man Books, Language Lessons: Volume One, is a diverse collection of poetry, prose, art, and music. Editors Chet Weise and Ben Swank present material in a unique format that demonstrates the excitement of human language beyond the simple printed page.

Published Thursday, 16 October 2014

Vagabonds and Gurus

In Darcey Steinke’s novel Sister Golden Hair, the spiritual path encompasses everything from Bibles to Bowie

by Emily Choate

October 14, 2014 When Jesse’s father gets thrown out of the Methodist ministry in the early seventies, her family enters the vagabond spiritual path so prominent in that era, and Jesse negotiates her awkward ride into adolescence through encounters with her semi-transient neighbors. Darcey Steinke will discuss her new novel, Sister Golden Hair, at Burke’s Book Store in Memphis on October 16, 2014, at 5:30 p.m.

Published Tuesday, 14 October 2014

The Party Primer

A Chapter 16 writer takes Martina McBride’s new cookbook for a spin

by Susannah Felts

October 13, 2014 Dinner-party mavens and newbie entertainers alike will find bright ideas in Martina McBride’s debut cookbook, Around the Table, which offers four seasons’ worth of themed gatherings. With recipes, decorating ideas, shortcuts, and even music playlists, each chapter guides the host through all the paces of pulling off a terrific, memorable party. McBride will discuss the book at the Harpeth Hall School in Nashville on October 13, 2014, and at The Booksellers at Laurelwood in Memphis on October 14, 2014.

Published Monday, 13 October 2014

Beyond Bullets and Battles

Redeployment, Phil Klay’s debut story collection, considers the complexity of modern warfare

by Ralph Bowden

October 9, 2014 Redeployment—Phil Klay’s debut story collection, which has just been long-listed for the National Book Award—considers the complexity of modern warfare, where fighting units compete for glory; corpse-eating dogs have to be shot; and soldiers are counseled, patched up, or shipped home in a bag. Klay will appear at the Southern Festival of Books, held in Nashville October 10-12, 2014. All festival events are free and open to the public.

Published Thursday, 9 October 2014

The Impossible Reach of History

Rebecca Makkai’s second novel unearths a century’s worth of family secrets

by Tina LoTufo

October 9, 2014 Rebecca Makkai’s new novel, The Hundred-Year House, reveals its secrets slowly, layer by layer, as the reader travels back in time from 1999 to 1900. At the center of the story is a house that becomes a character in its own right as Makkai combines straightforward narrative with snippets of poetry, telegrams, and letters to create a mood that is both modern and mysterious, historical and haunting. Makkai will appear at the Southern Festival of Books, held in Nashville October 10-12, 2014. All festival events are free and open to the public.

Published Thursday, 9 October 2014

Each Day a New World

Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming is the story of a life told in soaring verse

by Tracy Barrett

October 8, 2014 In evocative verse, Jacqueline Woodson, who has just been longlisted for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, shares the story of her childhood in Brown Girl Dreaming. Woodson will appear at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville on October 12, 2014, and at the Booksellers at Laurelwood in Memphis on October 13, 2014. Both events are free and open to the public.

Published Wednesday, 8 October 2014

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