Don Noble's Book Reviews

Mondays at 7:45 a.m and 4:44 p.m.

Recently retired as English professor at The University of Alabama, Dr. Noble's  specialties are Southern and American literature.  He also hosts Bookmark on Alabama Public Television.

Don Noble's reviews can be heard most Mondays at 7:45am and 4:44pm.  and have been made possible in part through grants from the Alabama State Council for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

To listen to the audio version of Dr. Noble's reviews, just click on the book title to be taken to the full page.  Audio is found either at the very beginning of the transcript or at the bottom of the page.

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Credit Alabama State Council on the Arts

Dr. Noble's Book Reviews are made possible in part with a grant from The Alabama State Council on the Arts, with the support of The University of Alabama, and from the generous support from our listeners.  Thank you!

“Work Like Any Other: A Novel”

Author: Virginia Reeves

Publisher: Scribner   

Pages: 260

Price: $25.00 (Hardcover)

“My Father Moves Through Time Like a Dirigible and Other Stories”

Author: Gregg Cusick

Publisher: Livingston Press    

Pages: 172

Price: $30.00 (Hardcover)

“Crazy in Alabama”

Author: Mark Childress

Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons   

Pages: 383

Price: $15.00

“Miss Jane: A Novel”

Author: Brad Watson

Publisher: W. W. Norton   

Pages: 267

Price: $25.95 (Hardcover)

It was 1996 when Watson published “Last Days of the Dog-Men,” which won the Sue Kaufman Award; 2002 for his novel, “The Heaven of Mercury,” runner up for the National Book Award; and 2010 for the story collection “Aliens in the Prime of their Lives,” a finalist for the 2011 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction—an average of 7 years between books.

“Raw. Vegan. Not Gross: All Vegan and Mostly Raw Recipes for People Who Love to Eat”

Author: Laura Miller

Publisher: Flatiron Books   

Pages: 211

Price: $25.99 (Hardcover)

A few weeks ago I reviewed “Lulu’s Kitchen,” a cookbook by Lucy Buffett featuring recipes from her restaurant at Gulf Shores. Buffett wrote that the general philosophy at Lulu’s was “Fried. Died. And Gone to Heaven” and her menu used to include “rice pilaf and steamed vegetables, but we threw away more than we sold.”

This book, “Raw. Vegan. Not Gross.” is not like that book.

“South Toward Home: Travels in Southern Literature”

Author: Margaret Eby

Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.   

Pages: 240

Price: $ 25.95 (Hardcover)

In her Introduction, Margaret Eby, originally from Birmingham, describes the nature of her book. It is “not meant to be an encyclopedia of Southern literature, nor is it a travel guide. It is an odyssey of sorts through a pocket of the South that I grew up in and learned to understand through reading.”

"The Keepers of the House" By Shirley Ann Grau

Jun 22, 2016

“The Keepers of the House”

Author: Shirley Ann Grau

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf     

Pages: 309 pp.

Price: $16.00 (Paper)

This year, 2016, marks the 100th year of the Pulitzer Prize.

For the first 31 years only novels were eligible for the fiction prize. Then the category was expanded to include short story collections.

“Lulu’s Kitchen: A Taste of the Gulf Coast Good Life”

Author: Lucy Buffett, Foreword by Jimmy Buffet

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing   

Pages: 264

Price: $19.99 (Paperback)

“Lulu’s Kitchen” is a revised edition of “Crazy Sista Cooking” which Lucy Buffett had self-published some time ago.

"The River of Souls" By Robert McCammon

Jun 14, 2016

“The River of Souls”

Author: Robert McCammon

Publisher: Subterranean Press         

Burton, MI

2014

Pages: 257

Price: $24.95 (Hardcover)

Here in Alabama we have had several authors with huge best sellers—Rick Bragg with “All Over But the Shoutin’,” Homer Hickam with “Rocket Boys” and Winston Groom with “Forrest Gump,” but after Harper Lee, Robert McCammon may be the Alabama writer who has sold the most books.

“The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls”                                    “The After Party”

Author: Anton DiSclafani                                                                      Author: Anton DiSclafani

Publisher: Riverhead Books                                                                 Publisher: Riverhead Books

Pages: 388                                                                                                     Pages: 384

Rock-a-Bye Bones: A Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery”

Author: Caroline Haines

Publisher: Minotaur Books ( St. Martin’s Publishing Group )

Pages: 344   

Price: $25.99 (Hardcover)

“Rock-a-Bye Bones” is the 16th in the series, and I think I have read and reviewed them all.

“All the Governor’s Men: A Mountain Brook Novel”

Author: Katherine Clark   

Foreword by Pat Conroy

Publisher: University of South Carolina Press

Pages: 238

Price: $29.99 (Hardcover)

“Half- Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life”

Author: Edward O. Wilson   

Publisher: Liveright Publishing Corporation

Pages: 212

Price: $15.95 (Hardcover)

It is arguable that Edward O. Wilson, a native Alabamian who graduated from UA before his Ph.D. at Harvard, had his career at Harvard, is now Professor Emeritus and has over the years won two Pulitzer Prizes, is the most important biologist alive today.

Attention should be paid.

“Blood, Bone, and Marrow: A Biography of Harry Crews”

Author: Ted Geltner   

Foreword by Michael Connelly

Publisher: The University of Georgia Press

Pages: 448

Price: $32.95 (Hardcover)

When the writer Harry Crews died on March 28, 2012, his many fans were grieved and some were surprised, believing that Crews had died years earlier. Many who knew of his wild man lifestyle were surprised he had made it that long. But Harry Crews, with his karate, body-building, Mohawk haircut and tattoos, was a very tough guy, or at least appeared to be.

“Dimestore: A Writer’s Life”

Author: Lee Smith  

Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill

Pages: 200

Price: $24.95 (Hardcover)

Readers of Lee Smith’s many novels know of her love for the home place, the town of Grundy and the surrounding Appalachians in the southwest corner of Virginia.

“Kill ’Em and Leave: Searching for James Brown and the American Soul”

Author: James McBride  

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Pages: 232

Price: $28.00 (Hardcover)

“The Dogs Buried Over the Bridge: A Memoir in Dog Years”

Author: Rheta Grimsley Johnson    

Publisher: John F. Blair, Publisher

Pages: 224

Price: $26.95 (Hardcover)

"Tru & Nelle: A Novel" By G. Neri

Mar 29, 2016

“Tru & Nelle: A Novel”

Author: G. Neri                                              

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Pages: 336

Price: $16.99 (Hardcover)

With all the recent fuss over the publication of “Go Set a Watchman” and the legal feuding in Monroeville, one can understand why this book was produced. There is interest in the subject.

Neri, the author of six previous books for children and teens, says of his work,I'm like a mash-up DJ of a writer: I sample real life and re-mix it into story.”

“Panther’s Prey: A Leo Maxwell Mystery”

Author: Lachlan Smith                                                      

Publisher: Mysterious Press/Grove Atlantic

Pages: 256

Price: $24.00 (Trade Cloth)

Lachlan Smith, now a practicing attorney in Birmingham, studied writing at Stanford and then went to law school at Berkeley. Despite his training in literary fiction, Smith opted for the faster paced legal thriller genre, combining his interests.

“A Window on Eternity: A Biologist’s Walk Through Gorongosa National Park”

Author: Edward O. Wilson                                     

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Pages: 141

Price: $30.00 (Hardcover)

Professor Moses Herzog, the protagonist of Nobel laureate Saul Bellow’s 1964 novel, is desperately concerned about the dangers of atomic warfare. Herzog compulsively writes letters to Eisenhower, Stevenson, others, stressing the importance of disarmament.

“The Opposite of Everyone”

Author: Joshlyn Jackson   

Publisher: William Morrow

Pages: 291

Price: $26.00 (Hardcover)

“Apprehensions and Convictions: Adventures of a 50-Year-Old Rookie Cop”

Author: Mark Johnson   

Publisher: QuillDriver Books

Pages: 344

Price: $18.95 (Hardcover)

Most new police officers are in their twenties, with some college behind them or perhaps a few years in the military.

“Revelation: A Search for Faith in a Violent Religious World”

Author: Dennis Covington   

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Pages: 224

Price: $28.00 (Hardcover)

Impossible as it seems, it has been 20 years since Dennis Covington published “Salvation on Sand Mountain,” his report on the snake handling churches of Appalachia, those congregations that followed, literally, the passage in Mark: “They shall take up serpents.”

“Baptized in PCBs: Race, Pollution, and Justice in an All-American Town”

Author: Ellen Griffith Spears        

Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press

Pages: 464

Price: $39.95 (Hardback); $27.95 (Paper)

“My Father, the Pornographer”

Author: Chris Offutt   

Publisher: Atria Books

Pages: 261

Price: $26.00 (Hardcover)

Seriously, how could you not at least browse a book entitled “My Father, the Pornographer”?

In a world flooded with memoirs, this one certainly promised to be unusual, and it is.

“Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush”

Author: Jon Meacham   

Publisher: Random House

Pages: 836

Price: $35.00 (Hardcover)

Jon Meacham is in a small group of elite presidential biographers, the group including Doris Kearns Goodwin, Michael Beschloss, David McCullough and a few others. He has written of the friendship of Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill and biographies of Thomas Jefferson, “The Art of Power,” and Andrew Jackson, “American Lion,” which won the Pulitzer Prize.

“Adiós Hemingway”

Author: Leonardo Padura Fuentes    

Translated from the Spanish by John King

Publisher: Grove/ Atlantic, Inc.

Pages: 229

Price: $13.00 (Paperback)

On the afternoon of January 21 I went to ten Hoor Hall on the UA campus to hear a talk by Cuban novelist Leonardo Padura Fuentes (often referred to as Leonardo Padura).

“American Housewife: Stories”

Author: Helen Ellis    

Publisher: Doubleday

Pages: 185

Price: $24.00 (Hardcover)

Tuscaloosa native Helen Ellis had a great success with her comical debut novel “Eating the Cheshire Cat,” set on the University of Alabama campus—partly in a sorority house—with its explosive climax on the football field during a half-time show.

“Cries for Help, Various”

Author: Padgett Powell

Publisher: Catapult

Pages: 182

Price: $ 16.95 (Paperback)

In a recent reading in Nashville, Padgett Powell introduced his stories by claiming that they were the beginnings of novels that had petered out and that the volume should have been called “Cries for Help, Failures,” but his publisher didn’t think labelling them as failed novels would help sales.

“Saban: The Making of a Coach”           

Author: Monte Burke

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Pages: 324

Price: $27.00 (Hardcover)

There is a good case to be made for not writing biographies until the subject is dead. Feelings are inevitably hurt. The subject’s family and friends may learn things they don’t need to know.

Pages