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.


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!

“The Headmaster’s Darlings: A Mountain Brook Novel”

Author: Katherine Clark, with a Foreword by Pat Conroy

Publisher: University of South Carolina Press: Story River Books

Pages: 248

Price: $29.95 (Hardcover)

Two fine Southern writers have teamed up on a couple of ambitious new projects, and the enterprise needs some explaining. Katherine Clark‘s first book was “Motherwit,”(1989) an as-told-to biography of midwife Onnie Lee Logan. Then Clark published “Milking the Moon,”(2001) Mobile writer Eugene Walter’s life story, again as-told- to.

“Among the Swamp People : Life in Alabama’s Mobile-Tensaw Delta”

Author: Watt Key; Illustrations by Kelan Mercer

Publisher: University of Alabama Press

Pages: 198

Price: $29.95 (Cloth)

“Swamp People” is a combination of memoir, nature writing and personal essay. Key, raised in Point Clear, on Mobile Bay, writes of his nearly life-long fascination with the Mobile-Tensaw Delta at the north end of the bay.

“The Scribe”

Author: Matthew Guinn

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Co.

Pages: 287

Price: $25.95 (Hardcover)

Matthew Guinn’s first novel, “The Resurrectionist,” published in 2013, told the story of a cache of bones found in the basement of a medical school in Columbia, South Carolina. They were human bones, buried for decades, but whose? Guinn published the novel as literary fiction with a fresh subject, and it was a great success. Surprisingly, “The Resurrectionist” was nominated for an Edgar, a mystery writers award.


“The Forest and the Trees”

Author: Floyd McGowin

Publisher: NewSouth Books

Pages: 334

Price: $27.95 (Trade paper)

Floyd McGowin, of the Chapman, Alabama, McGowins, the owners of the W.T. Smith Lumber Company, was born in 1931 and died in 2010, but this memoir takes his story basically up to 1966.

At that time, the W.T. Smith Company was sold and McGowin started the Rocky Creek Logging Company and ran it for 42 years, covered here in an epilogue of only six pages.

“The Reading Circle”

Author: Ashton Lee

Publisher: Kensington Books

Pages: 234

Price: $15.00 (Trade paperback)

In a recent comic novel, “Love’s Winning Plays,” in which he dared to satirize SEC football, Inman Majors also made fun of book discussion groups. He has his lonely hero, Raymond Love, join one in order to meet women. It sort of works; book club membership is overwhelmingly female.

“The Woman in the Photograph” 

Author: Dana Gynther

Publisher: Gallery Books

Pages: 352

Price: $16.00 (Paper)

Dana Gynther made her debut as a novelist in 2012 with “Crossing on the Paris,” a novel set aboard a transatlantic liner on her maiden voyage from Le Havre to New York. As the ship sails west, three women, one from first class, one from second and one from steerage, strangers until then, meet and exchange their life stories with rich flashbacks to their very different experiences in Paris

“Raising Aphrodite: A Novel”

Author: Kirk Curnutt

Publisher: River City Publishing

Pages: 413

$26.95 (Hardcover)

In Rogers and Hammerstein’s musical “Carousel,” Billy Bigelow, the erstwhile carousel barker, now married to Julie Jordan, is overjoyed when he learns he is to be a father. In the song “Soliloquy” he sings of his boy Bill. He’ll “teach him to wrestle and dive through a wave.” Bill might be a boxer or president.

“The Redeemers: A Quinn Colson Novel”

Author: Ace Atkins

Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons

Pages: 370 pp.

Price: $26.95 (Hardcover)

Ace Atkins is generating a shelf of novels at an astonishing pace. “Redeemers” is his seventeenth.

After graduation from Auburn where he played football, Ace—his real name—worked as a reporter in Florida, mainly crime. He has several standalone crime novels—historically based like “Wicked City,” set in Phenix City, and investigative/biographically based such as “Infamous,” about Fatty Arbuckle .

“Go Set a Watchman: A Novel”

Author: Harper Lee

Publisher: HarperCollins

Pages: 288

Price: $27.99

This is a book review, a description and evaluation of Harper Lee’s novel “Go Set a Watchman,” read on a Kindle.

With an important book like this I would normally be reading an ARC—Advance Readers Copy—or a review copy, but these were not distributed. This novel had all the publicity it needed and the publishers obviously felt there was nothing to be gained and perhaps something to lose by letting reviewers see it.

“German Rocketeers in the Heart of Dixie: Making Sense of the Nazi Past During the Civil Rights Era”

Author: Monique Laney

Publisher: Yale University Press

Pages: 320

Price: $35.00 (Hardcover)

“Southern Made Fresh: Vibrant Dishes Rooted in Homegrown Flavor”

Author: Tasia Malakasis

Publisher: Oxmoor House

Pages: 297

Price: $26.00 (Hardcover)

“Two Legs, Bad: Dog Town Tales”   

Author: Pat Mayer

Publisher: The Livingston Press, The University of West Alabama

Pages: 166

Price: $17.95 (Paper)

As many will recognize, the title “Two Legs Bad” comes from George Orwell’s “Animal Farm.” In that parable of revolution, when the livestock take over, they adopt this slogan, referring to their previous masters: humans.

The humans in Pat Mayer’s three books of fiction are not all “bad” but many are incomplete or damaged.

“Bad English: A History of Linguistic Aggravation”

Author: Ammon Shea

Publisher: Penguin Group: A Perigee Book

Pages: 247

Price: $16.00 (Paperback)

"Angels at the Gate"

Jun 26, 2015

“Angels at the Gate”

Author: T. K. Thorne

Publisher: Cappuccino Books

Pages: 359

Price: $22.50 (Hardcover)

Birmingham author T. K. Thorne, a retired police captain, is writing hard. Her “Last Chance for Justice,” an extended commentary on the trials that finally brought the 16th St. Baptist Church bombers Bobby Frank Cherry and Thomas Blanton to account in 2001 and 2002, was informed by her intimate knowledge of Birmingham and 22 years in law enforcement.

“Wild Sweet Orange Ride: Journeys Home”

Author: Julia Gregg

Publisher: Vineyard Stories

Pages: 101

Price: $19.95 (Hardcover)

Julia Hightower Gregg has been a columnist for the “Evansville Courier and Press” in Indiana for 25 years but before becoming a Hoosier, if indeed one can ever become a Hoosier, Gregg grew up in Montgomery, Alabama, took a BS from Auburn University, then took an MS from Vanderbilt Peabody College and an MFA from Murray State University in Kentucky .