Book Reviews

Appalachian Christmas

Sharyn McCrumb brings back fans’ favorite characters in her new Ballad novella

by Faye Jones

November 21, 2014 Sharyn McCrumb gives fans of her Ballad series an early Christmas present with her new novella, Nora Bonesteel’s Christmas Past, which is told in alternating vignettes featuring Sheriff Spencer Arrowood and Nora Bonesteel, two popular characters from the series.

Published Friday, 21 November 2014

Much More than Tea and Sympathy

In The Way of Tea and Justice, Becca Stevens tells the story behind Nashville’s Thistle Stop Café, a cottage industry for former prostitutes

by Tina LoTufo

November 20, 2014 “A Story in Every Cup”—that’s the motto of Nashville’s Thistle Stop Café. In The Way of Tea and Justice, Becca Stevens, Episcopal priest and founder of Thistle Farms, tells the story of the Thistle Stop Café, where, in Stevens’ words, “we recognize the dignity of each person” while providing additional employment opportunities for former prostitutes in recovery.

Published Thursday, 20 November 2014

Sophisticated Tales, Hardscrabble Lives

The stories in David Madden’s The Last Bizarre Tale reveal hidden hopes in the South’s dark corners

by Sean Kinch

November 19, 2014 The stories in The Last Bizarre Tale, a new collection by Knoxville native David Madden, exhibit the protean nature of Madden’s gifts: his masterful tales run the gamut of literary styles and genres, each entry marked with the stamp of its author’s ingenuity. Madden will appear at Knox Heritage in Knoxville on November 21, 2014, at 11:30 a.m.

Published Wednesday, 19 November 2014

A Lover’s Quest

Brandy Wilson’s The Palace Blues tells a story of a Prohibition-era lesbian romance

by Maria Browning

November 18, 2014 Frankie, the young heroine of Brandy Wilson’s Prohibition-era novel, The Palace Blues, comes from respectable folks who expect her to marry a nice boy, but she has no interest in respectability, and she’d rather pass for a boy than marry one. When she falls in love with Jean Bailey, a beautiful blues singer, she begins a journey that leaves her family and respectability far behind.

Published Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Tossing a Firecracker into Journalism

Curtis Wilkie is much more than a political reporter or a Southern colorist

by Clay Risen

November 14, 2014 It’s tempting to close Curtis Wilkie’s new collection, Assassins, Eccentrics, Politicians and Other People of Interest, reach for a bottle of bourbon, and sigh about how they don’t make journalists like they used to. Wilkie will discuss and sign copies at The Booksellers at Laurelwood in Memphis on November 21, 2014, at 6:30 p.m.

Published Friday, 14 November 2014

Scared and Ashamed and Full of Hope

In The Heaven of Animals, David James Poissant limns the lives of the thwarted

by Ed Tarkington

November 13, 2014 David James Poissant’s delicately crafted stories of human longing and loss have earned him comparisons to Richard Ford and Anton Chekhov. In his debut collection, The Heaven of Animals, Poissant paints a broad canvas populated by a memorable cast of hard-luck cases. He will appear at the University of Tennessee’s Hodges Library in Knoxville on November 17, 2014, at 7 p.m.

Published Thursday, 13 November 2014

Alone in the Locker Room, Bleeding

Andrew Maraniss’s Strong Inside is a superb biography of SEC basketball pioneer Perry Wallace

by Clay Risen

November 12, 2014 Like any great biography, Andrew Maraniss’s Strong Inside concerns more than just its subject. It is also a history of Vanderbilt, of Nashville, of the SEC; a history of basketball and Southern sports culture and how they clashed with the civil-rights movement. Above all it is a meditation on the personal price of progress, about what happens to the people we ask to be racial pioneers, and what we—as whites, as blacks—owe them in return. Maraniss will discuss Strong Inside at Parnassus Books in Nashville on November 19, 2014, at 6:30 p.m. The discussion will be moderated by Mayor Karl Dean.

Published Wednesday, 12 November 2014

On the Record

In Sound Man, Glyn Johns recalls his many encounters with rock’n’roll royalty

by Randy Fox

November 11, 2014 As a successful recording engineer, producer, and sound mixer, Glyn Johns has spent more than five decades in the music business. In Sound Man, he offers a string of entertaining anecdotes about rock’n’roll royalty. Johns will appear at the Nashville Public Library on November 18, 2014, at 6:15 p.m. The event, part of the Salon@615 series, is free and open to the public.

Published Tuesday, 11 November 2014

A Little Back-Up from the Dead

With A Sudden Light, Garth Stein delves into a ghost story with historical and ecological ripples

by Emily Choate

November 10, 2014 In Garth Stein’s new novel, A Sudden Light, fourteen-year-old Trevor and his father head west during a time of family crisis. In a fight over the fate of Riddell House, the crumbling mansion built from their family’s timber fortune, conflicting agendas of both the dead and the living come to light. Stein, the bestselling author of The Art of Racing in the Rain, will discuss A Sudden Light at the Nashville Public Library on November 14, 2014, at 6:15 p.m.

Published Monday, 10 November 2014

Some Howling Beautiful Thing

A. Van Jordan’s latest poetry collection evokes the magic of movies

by Erica Wright

October 29, 2014 In his new poetry collection, The Cineaste, A. Van Jordan pays homage to both the makers and watchers of movies. Jordan will read from his work on November 6, 2014, at 7 p.m. in Buttrick Hall, Room 101, on the Vanderbilt University campus in Nashville. The event is free and open to the public.

Published Tuesday, 28 October 2014

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