Book Reviews

A Note So Pure

Nickolas Butler’s Shotgun Lovesongs sends four small-town friends into a tangle of heartbreak

by Emily Choate

August 26, 2014 The four friends at the center of Nickolas Butler’s debut novel, Shotgun Lovesongs, teeter between nostalgia for the young guys they once were and hopes for the men they will become. Now in their mid-thirties, they have begun to feel the weight of the choices they’ve already made. Nickolas Butler will discuss Shotgun Lovesongs 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, 26 August 2014

Freedom from the Ordinary

Maggie Shipstead’s Astonish Me illuminates the ballet world’s relentless pursuit of perfection

by Emily Choate

August 21, 2014 The ballet dancers in Maggie Shipstead’s novel, Astonish Me, are engaged in a daily war against their mortal limitations. Equal parts brutality and beauty, ballet requires tough sacrifices in exchange for the elusive possibility of transcendence. Maggie Shipstead will discuss Astonish Me 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, 21 August 2014

Drawing the Mythic Out of the Commonplace

Tony Earley explores the perils of life’s second acts with the tender and raucous Mr. Tall

by Ed Tarkington

August 19, 2014 Since the publication of his first story collection some twenty years ago, Tony Earley has built a body of work defined by extraordinary insight into the comedy, pathos, and wonder of the commonplace. In his new collection, Mr. Tall, Earley widens the scope of his frequently hilarious, reliably lyrical stories. Earley will discuss Mr. Tall at Parnassus Books in Nashville on August 26, 2014, at 6:30 p.m., and at the Southern Festival of Books, held in Nashville October 10-12, 2014.

Published Tuesday, 19 August 2014

This Spiteful Old House

In Courtney Miller Santo’s new novel, a renovation project tests the limits of family ties

by Tina LoTufo

August 15, 2014 The locals call it “Spite House,” the structure at the center of Courtney Miller Santo’s new novel, Three Story House. Lizzie Linwood, granddaughter of the man who built the Memphis home to “spite” his brother, joins forces with her two cousins to renovate the dilapidated structure, exposing old wounds and revealing buried truths along the way. Courtney Miller Santo will appear at The Booksellers at Laurelwood in Memphis on August 19, 2014, at 6:30 p.m. and at the Southern Festival of Books, held in Nashville October 10-12, 2014. All festival events are free and open to the public.

Published Friday, 15 August 2014

Behind the Quirks

Martha Woodroof explores the heartaches and hopes at a small fictional college

by Faye Jones

August 14, 2014 Martha Woodroof’s debut novel, Small Blessings, features a collection of eccentrics at a small women’s college in Virginia and examines the heartaches and hopes beneath their quirks. Woodroof will discuss Small Blessings at Union Ave. Books in Knoxville on August 24, 2014, at 2 p.m., and at Parnassus Books in Nashville on August 25, 2014, at 6:30 p.m.

Published Thursday, 14 August 2014

Perpetually on the Lam

In On the Run, sociologist Alice Goffman examines the effect of zealous policing on one inner-city neighborhood

by Maria Browning

August 11, 2014 There is endless debate about whether zealous policing and harsh sentences are effective in reducing crime, but according to sociologist Alice Goffman they have a profoundly damaging effect on troubled, low-income communities. In On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City, Goffman reports her observations from six years spent in a tough Philadelphia neighborhood, where she found that aggressive law enforcement cripples lives, ruins relationships, and creates a major barrier to escaping crime and poverty. Goffman will appear at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville October 10-12, 2014.

Published Monday, 11 August 2014

Unpacking the Past

Christina Baker Kline binds youth and age in a story of survival

by Lyda Phillips

August 8, 2014 After five novels, Christina Baker Kline has her first bestseller with Orphan Train, which has sold more than one million copies thanks to community-reading projects and book clubs. This quiet novel dissects not only a remarkable historical phenomenon but also the enduring emotional scars left by family tragedy. Kline will discuss Orphan Train at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville October 10-12, 2014.

Published Friday, 8 August 2014

A Love Letter to Books

In The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, Gabrielle Zevin pays homage to readers

by Faye Jones

August 7, 2014 In her new novel, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, Gabrielle Zevin celebrates books and those who read them. Based loosely on the hero of George Eliot’s Silas Marner, that high-school standard, A.J. Fikry is a sad man whose life is changed when a baby is left in his store. Gabrielle Zevin will discuss the novel at the Southern Festival of Books, held in Nashville October 10-12, 2014.

Published Thursday, 7 August 2014

Alone Together

Richard Bausch’s Before, During, After is a 9/11 novel that intertwines the upheavals of violence and love

by Emily Choate

August 6, 2014 In Richard Bausch’s new novel, Before, During, After, the events of 9/11 rush Michael Faulk and his fiancée, Natasha Barrett, into a new era. Poised to begin their new life together in Memphis, they find that their experiences of that day have cast their love, and their future, into danger.

Published Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Bunnies Behaving Badly

Scandal, mystery, and controversy in the “fuzzy bunny” world of children’s literature

by Tracy Barrett

August 5, 2014 The best books for young readers are as controversial and thought-provoking as anything written for their parents. Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature by Betsy Bird, Julie Danielson, and Peter D. Sieruta casts a revealing light on children’s books and their creators. Danielson will appear at Parnassus Books in Nashville on August 7, 2014, at 6:30 p.m., and at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville October 10-12, 2014.

Published Tuesday, 5 August 2014

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