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 Tilted World"

Nov 4, 2013

  “The Tilted World”
Authors: Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly
Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: 320
Price: $25.99 (Cloth)

In Oxford, Mississippi, Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly both write and teach writing at Ole Miss.

Tom, a novelist, is best known for “Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter,” “Hell at the Breech” and other works of fiction containing considerable violence and cruelty.

She Needed Killing: Book 3 in the Needed Killing Series

Author: Bill Fitts

Publisher: Borgo Publishing 2013

Pages: 363

Price: $12.95 (Paper

Retired from the University of Alabama , Bill Fitts has actually done what so many threaten; he has taken up writing murder mysteries.

Skin in the Game

Oct 7, 2013

“Skin in the Game”

Author: R.P. Finch

Publisher: Livingston Press

Pages: 327

Price: $18.95 (Cloth)

The Livingston Press of West Alabama continues to publish unusual, off-beat fiction. “Skin in the Game” is a debut novel by R.P. Finch, who is himself a bit unusual. Finch holds a doctorate in philosophy from Duke University and a doctor of jurisprudence from UNC Chapel Hill. After practicing law in Atlanta for 30 years Finch, now retired, has produced a clever, downright frantic comic novel that sends up law firms, strip clubs and the mafia.

“Inside the Vault: The Paul W. Bryant Collection”

Author: Taylor Watson; Foreword by Ken Gaddy

Publisher: The Paul W. Bryant Museum

Pages: 122

Price: $29.95 (Cloth)

(Available at the Museum and online at

The Governor’s Lady

Sep 23, 2013

“The Governor’s Lady”

Author: Robert Inman

Publisher: John F. Blair

Pages: 331

Price: $26.95 (Cloth)

Novelist Bob Inman in interviews likes to describe himself as a simple storyteller, without overt pretensions to creating “literature.” This is a seemingly modest declaration but, really, being a first-rate storyteller is a fine achievement, harder than it looks. Indeed it should not look hard at all, and if the story fails to hold the reader’s interest it won’t matter if it is “literature” or not; few will read the book.

Moonrise: A Novel

Sep 16, 2013

“Moonrise: A Novel”

Author: Cassandra King

Publisher: Maiden Lane Press

Pages: 384 

Price: $26.95 (Cloth)

Cassandra King has just published her fifth novel, “Moonrise,” and it is different from anything she has done before.

This is not only exciting, it is risky.

The Road from Gap Creek

Sep 9, 2013

 Don Noble's Book Review on The Road from Gap Creek by Robert MorganEdit | Remove

“The Road from Gap Creek”

Author: Robert Morgan

Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hil

l Pages: 318

Price: $25.95 (Cloth)

 Don Noble's Book Review on “The Fountain of St. James Court; or, Portrait of the Artist as an Old Woman” by Sena Jeter NaslundEdit | Remove

“The Fountain of St. James Court; or, Portrait of the Artist as an Old Woman”

Author: Sena Jeter Naslund

Publisher: William Morrow

Pages: 448

Price: $26.99 (Cloth)

“Last Chance for Justice: How Relentless Investigators Uncovered New Evidence Convicting the Birmingham Church Bombers”

Author: T. K. Thorne

Publisher: Lawrence Hill Books

Pages: 288

Price: $26.95 (Cloth)

On September 15th it will be 50 years since the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church, the bombing in which four girls, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, Addie Mae Collins and Cynthia Wesley, were killed while getting ready to participate in Youth Sunday.

"Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving”
Author:  Jonathan Evison
Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Pages: 278
Price: $14.95 (Paper)

Algonquin Books has published the paperback of “The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving” with an unusual amount of fanfare and they are right. This is a special, unusual novel and is in its way a literary high-risk adventure.

Pale Blue Light

Aug 12, 2013

“Pale Blue Light”                                                             

By Skip Tucker


NewSouth Books


$27.95 ( Cloth )

392 pp.

They Had No Voice

Aug 5, 2013

"They Had No Voice"
Author: Denny Abbott

Transcript to be added soon.

“Cold War Dixie: Militarization and Modernization in the American South”

Author: Kari Frederickson                                                                

Publisher: University of Georgia Press

Pages: 256

Price: $24.95 (Paper); $ 69.95 (Cloth); $24.95 (Ebook)

“The Broken Places: A Quinn Colson Novel”    

Author: Ace Atkins

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Pages: 358

Price: $26.95 (Cloth)


“Robert B. Parker’s Wonderland”

Author: Ace Atkins

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Price: $26.95

Pages: 306

Ace Atkins, Auburn graduate, has just published simultaneously, his own twelfth novel, “The Broken Places,” set in Mississippi, and his second Robert B. Parker Spenser novel, “Wonderland,” set of course in Boston.        

Text to be added.

The Bookman’s Tale: A Novel of Obsession

Jul 1, 2013

“The Bookman’s Tale: A Novel of Obsession” 

Author: Charlie Lovett

Publisher: Viking

Pages: 352

Price: $27.95 (Cloth)

The title of “The Bookman’s Tale” is meant, I think, to remind one of Chaucer: “The Knight’s Tale,” “The Pardoner’s Tale,” etc. It sets an appropriately antiquarian mood, and much of this novel deals with the antiquarian, the rare and antique.

This week Dr. Noble reviews:  Gospel of Freedom: Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Letter from Birmingham Jail and the Struggle that Changed America by Jonathan Rieder

Transcript and audio to follow soon.


This week Don Reviews "The Bookman's Tale" by Charlie Lovett.

Transcript to be posted soon.

“Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald”                                                   

Author: Therese Anne Fowler

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 375

Price: $25.99 (Cloth)

"A Rare Titanic Family:  The Caldwells' Story of Survival"

By: Julie Hedgepeth Williams

Audio and text to be added soon.

“An Accidental Memoir: How I Killed Someone and Other Essays and Stories”
Author: Wendy Reed
Publisher: NewSouth Books
Pages: 208
Price: $24.95 (Cloth)

Wendy Reed is a familiar and respected member of the Alabama literary community, having co- edited two books on Southern women and spirituality for the University of Alabama Press, and been a prize-winning producer/writer on “Discovering Alabama,” not to mention the literary interview show “Bookmark.”

Opening the Doors by B. J. Hollars

May 13, 2013

“Opening the Doors: The Desegregation of the University of Alabama and the Fight for Civil Rights in Tuscaloosa”
Author: B.J. Hollars
Publisher: The University of Alabama Press
Pages: 288
Price: $29.95 (Cloth)

Alabama Governor George Wallace’s infamous stand in the schoolhouse door took place on June 11, 1963, at Foster Auditorium, nearly fifty years ago.

“The Kings and Queens of Roam”
Author: Daniel Wallace
Publisher: Touchstone Books
Pages: 288
Price: $24.00 (Hardcover)

Here in his fifth novel Daniel Wallace has returned to many of the concerns and techniques of “Big Fish,” his first and most widely admired novel.

“He Needed Killing: Book 1 in the Needed Killing Series”

Author: Bill Fitts

Publisher: Borgo Publishing Editions; Electronic Publisher: Smashwords

Pages: 220

Price: $10.95 (Paper)

In September of 2011 Bill Fitts retired from his job as a computer scientist at the University of Alabama and almost at once began his “He Needed Killing” mystery series.

“Southern Bound: A Gulf Coast Journalist on Books, Writers, and Literary Pilgrimages of the Heart”

Author: John S. Sledge

Publisher: The University of South Carolina Press

Pages: 280 $24.95 (Paper)

From 1995 until just last fall, 2012, John Sledge was the editor of the “Mobile Press-Register” Books Page.

“Life After Life: A Novel”
Author: Jill McCorkle
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Pages: 352
Price: $24.95 (Cloth)

Jill McCorkle entered the publishing scene with a great splash. In 1984 Algonquin published her first two novels “July 7th” and “The Cheerleader” simultaneously. It was hoped this would create “buzz” and it did. Since then there have been four story collections and three more novels, but it has been 17 years since the last novel so “Life After Life” is long awaited by her fans.

“Why We Are Here: Mobile and the Spirit of a Southern City”
Authors: Edward O. Wilson and Alex Harris
Publisher: Liveright Publishing Corporation (W. W. Norton & Company)
Pages: 228
Price: $39.95

Crossing On The Paris

Mar 25, 2013

“Crossing on the Paris: A Novel”
Author: Dana Gynther Publisher: Gallery Books, Simon & Schuster
Pages: 314
Price: $15.00 (Paper)

The date is June 15, 1921, Le Havre, France. Three women who have never met are captured by the ship’s photographer as they mount the gangplank for the maiden voyage of the French luxury liner “Paris.”

The “Ship of Fools” motif in fiction, most famously exploited in the novel by Katherine Anne Porter, is time honored and very useful.

“Wash”: A Novel

Mar 11, 2013

“Wash”: A Novel

By Margaret Wrinkle

Atlantic Monthly Press

New York


$25.00 (Cloth)

408 pp.

Make no mistake, “Wash” is a big, ambitious, demanding, novel, long but never plodding. Margaret Wrinkle, a Birmingham native, has done a prodigious amount of research and then put it in the service of a vivid imagination and a lyrical prose style.

“Wash” is a most impressive debut performance.

The novel is set mainly on the Richardson plantation “two days’ ride northeast of Nashville” in the year 1823, with long flashbacks.

“In Love with Defeat: The Making of a Southern Liberal”

Author: H. Brandt Ayers

Publisher: NewSouth Books

Pages: 336

Price: $29.95 (Cloth)

H. Brandt Ayers, Brandy to his friends, has been publisher of the family-owned “Anniston Star” since returning home from Washington D.C. and taking over from his father, Col. Harry Ayers, in 1963. Now 78 years old, Ayers has published his memoirs.

“In Love with Defeat” runs along two parallel tracks.

First, it is an autobiography, a richly anecdotal look at Alabama’s last half century.