Book Reviews

Fighting Against War

Lawrence Wright takes readers behind the rancorous scenes of the Camp David Accords

by Chris Scott

September 23, 2014 In 1978, Jimmy Carter brought Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin to Camp David in one of the highest-stakes diplomatic moves ever made by a U.S. president. The talks, as chronicled by Lawrence Wright in his new book, Thirteen Days in September, were a struggle of faith and personality that resulted in a triumph of peace over war. Wright 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 Tuesday, 23 September 2014

A Vision of Redemption

In Zion, poet TJ Jarrett explores the fierce possibilities of love and forgiveness

by Maria Browning

September 19, 2014 The poems in TJ Jarrett’s stunning second collection, Zion, are shaped by the desire to summon mercy and forgiveness in the face of terrible wrong, and they celebrate, without a trace of sentimentality, the sustaining power of love. TJ Jarrett will appear at Parnassus Books in Nashville on September 26, 2014, at 6:30 p.m. and again at the Southern Festival of Books, held in Nashville October 10-12, 2014.

Published Friday, 19 September 2014

The Story That Takes Hold

Ishmael Beah writes lyrically in Radiance of Tomorrow about a village recovering from the horrors of war

by Michael Ray Taylor

September 18, 2014 In 2007, Ishmael Beah received widespread praise for his memoir, A Long Way Gone, a troubling account of his life as a child soldier in Sierra Leone. In his first novel, Radiance of Tomorrow, Beah lyrically explores a village much like his own as it struggles toward normal life after a wartime massacre. Beah will appear at the Southern Festival of Books, held in Nashville October 10-12. All festival events are free and open to the public.

Published Thursday, 18 September 2014

One Tough Broad

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York writes an exceptionally honest new book about her path to politics and the issues women face

by Liz Garrigan

September 17, 2014 Kirsten Gillibrand is only the sixth—the sixth—woman in history to give birth while serving in Congress, and though she has unfortunately few peers, she gets the challenges facing contemporary women. Her new book, Off the Sidelines: Raise Your Voice, Change the World, is a call to arms urging women to get involved and change the outcome on issues important to them. Gillibrand will discuss her book at a ticketed event at Belmont University’s McAfee Concert Hall on September 20, 2014, at 1:30 p.m.

Published Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Ugly Magic

In John Darnielle’s Wolf in White Van, a disfigured young man struggles with his demons

by Sean Kinch

September 16, 2014 With Wolf in White Van, John Darnielle, singer and lyricist for The Mountain Goats, has produced an LP of a novel that delves into the damaged psyche of a disfigured young man who retreats into a role-playing game he has invented, a fantasy world where he—and others—can feel safe. Darnielle will discuss Wolf in White Van at Parnassus Books in Nashville on September 24, 2014, at 6:30 p.m.

Published Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Ethnic Identity Theft

In Joshua Ferris’s To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, cyber-stalking leads to personal revelation

by Sean Kinch

September 15, 2014 The new novel by Joshua Ferris, To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, tells the story of a Manhattan dentist, Paul O’Rourke, whose practice is in perfect working order but whose personal life is an unqualified mess. Ferris, who is on the short list for the 2014 Man Booker Prize, will appear at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville on October 11, 2014, at 3 p.m. in Room 1AB at the Nashville Public Library. All festival events are free and open to the public.

Published Monday, 15 September 2014

A Weighty Biography

Carol Bradley traces the life of a circus elephant brutally abused for two decades before finally finding peace at Hohenwald’s Elephant Sanctuary

by Liz Garrigan

September 12, 2014 Carol Bradley’s meticulously researched new book, Last Chain on Billie: How One Extraordinary Elephant Escaped the Big Top, is a heartrending biography of an Asian elephant brutalized for decades. But it is also a history of the perverse form of entertainment known as the circus. Carol Bradley will discuss Last Chain on Billie at Union Ave. Books in Knoxville on September 19, 2014, at 6 p.m., at I Love Books in Kingsport on September 20, 2014, at 1 p.m., and at the Southern Festival of Books, held in Nashville October 10-12, 2014.

Published Friday, 12 September 2014

Victorian Chills and Thrills

The Phantom Coach by Michael Sims is a supernatural smorgasbord

by Tina LoTufo

September 11, 2014 In The Phantom Coach: A Connoisseur’s Collection of Victorian Ghost Stories, seasoned anthology editor Michael Sims has compiled a book sure to send a shiver down the spine of even the most skeptical reader. Included are all the standard tropes of the genre: haunted houses, the walking dead, cursed objects, and eerie landscapes, as well as the expected Victorian flourishes of fainting females and their brave but clueless male champions. Sims will appear at the Southern Festival of Books, held in Nashville October 10-12, 2014.

Published Thursday, 11 September 2014

No Graceland

Stephen Schottenfeld’s Bluff City Pawn explores the Great Recession’s impact on Memphis through the lens of a well-meaning pawn broker’s scheme to save his failing business

by Ed Tarkington

September 10, 2014 Huddy Marr, the protagonist of Stephen Schottenfeld’s Bluff City Pawn, knows guns—and gold, and guitars, and jewelry. He also knows that the blood bank replacing the liquor store next door to his pawn shop signals the last, irreversible step in the decline of his particular neck of a slumping city. In his debut novel, Schottenfeld capably shows Memphis as the home of a different kind of blues. Schottenfeld will appear at the University of Memphis on September 16, 2014, at 8 p.m. in the Bluff Room of the University Center. He will also appear at the Southern Festival of Books, held in Nashville October 10-12, 2014. Both events are free and open to the public.

Published Wednesday, 10 September 2014

The World Remade

In Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven, a death onstage heralds the collapse of the modern era

by Emily Choate

September 8, 2014 A novel with enormous scope and an ambitious time-jumping structure, Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven paints its post-apocalyptic world in both bold brushstrokes and tiny points of background detail. Mandel will discuss Station Eleven at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville on Oct. 10-12.

Published Monday, 8 September 2014

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