Arts & Life

Birmingham, AL – The state's growing Hispanic population brings a growing need for Spanish-language media. Those radio stations and newspapers are key players in helping immigrants integrate. Amanda DeWald reports

Operation Homecoming

Sep 24, 2007

It was the intention of the editorial board and the NEA that this volume be neither for nor against the Afghanistan/Iraq wars. And it succeeds. But I can't see how anyone could read these heartbreaking accounts without becoming determined that no war should be begun without absolutely good, unimpeachably good, in fact nearly perfect justification.

Operation Homecoming

If you read only one book about America at war since 9/11, let it be this one.


Sep 21, 2007

In these stories, the mountain folk have to deal with divorce, the breakup of families, and, in general, the steady erosion of a way of life that was hard but had a wholeness to it. Ron Rash is capturing this moment of transformation and making it into art.


A lowlife loser named Dibber Landry (given name Dilbert) is waiting in his family's house on the north side of Dauphin Island for the eye of the hurricane to arrive. He then quickly gets into his motorboat and rides to the south side of the island to loot houses that have been evacuated. Things are going fine until, after gathering up items of value in the Marchand family house, Dibber comes upon a corpse.

Night Rain: A Mike Connolly Mystery

The joke among pundits is he used the presidency "as a stepping stone to greatness." Gaillard reevaluates both the Carter presidency and the years since, neither canonizing nor castigating.

Prophet from Plains

On the one hand, it seems child's play to make fun of Alabama politics. The legislators have fistfights; two of our recent governors have been convicted of felonies; the scandals in the junior college system are too widespread and brazen even to comprehend easily. How to outdo reality is the problem.

Hallelujah, Alabama!

As Willie Mays's seventy-fifth birthday approached on May 6, 2006, friends thought they wanted to do something more, something different for him than just birthday cake and testimonials.

Willie Mays: Art In The Outfield

Football Lessons - commentary Lisa Davis

Aug 29, 2007

Anniston AL – The football season starts this weekend for many colleges and universities in our state, including the University of Alabama. This morning, commentator Lisa Davis tells us about her introduction to football in this state.

Commentator Lisa Davis is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Anniston. She writes occasional commentary for Alabama Public Radio.

What a pleasure it is to read a book and be able to say, without qualification, this is terrific. Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician is Daniel Wallace's best, of Ray in Reverse, The Watermelon King, and even Big Fish.

Catching Fireflies -- Commentary

Jul 18, 2007

Anniston, AL – On the parents' list of favorite summer activities for their children, perhaps catching fireflies is somewhere in the top 10. For commentator Lisa Davis, it's a family affair.

OUTRO: Lisa Davis is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Anniston. She writes occasional commentary for Alabama Public Radio.

In this blog, Gus Openshaw's Whale-Killing Journal, Thomson, as Gus, a fictional worker in an Oakland, California cat food cannery, tells of his adventures. Gus has lost his wife, young son, and right arm to a crazed whale and vows revenge.

Now, Ruth Beaumont Cook has done a splendid job of investigating the story of the POW camp in Aliceville, AL, interviewing those who are still alive and getting down the historical record. Her book is thoroughly researched and intelligently written and ensures that the camp will not be forgotten.

From the editor of "Stories from the Blue Moon Caf?," another anthology has been released, with a twist: it also includes non-Southern writers.

From the Farm House to the State House is the first of two books by Fuller Kimbrell about his life from birth to around 1970, in which he has been at the center of an enormous amount of Alabama history and politics in his long life.

Southern writing is mostly not funny. Thank goodness, then, for Jack Pendarvis of Bayou La Batre, now of Atlanta, who writes funny on purpose.

Writing funny is hard. Drawing cartoons, doing impersonations, even telling jokes, spinning amusing anecdotes, are all relatively easy. But writing it down in prose in such a way that a reader, sitting alone with his magazine or newspaper, laughs or even smiles, that's an accomplishment.

This volume, and its accompanying critical material, might serve as a basis for some fruitful discussion about what is happening in new fiction in America.

Wayne Flynt, in his monumental Alabama in the Twentieth Century, discusses several self-taught, outsider folk artists, the Mose T's, you might call them, but he spends time on only one professionally trained Alabama artist, the man he calls "the Vincent Van Gogh of the Black Belt," William Christenberry.


May 14, 2007

Haines the novelist has a penchant for the dark and violent, and she has taken time off from the Bones books to indulge this urge; Penumbra is indeed dark, violent, disturbing, nearly melodramatic.

Caroline Haines of Semmes, Alabama, has been publishing novels for many years. After a score of genre novels, she published Summer of the Redeemers and Touched, and then Haines seemed to have hit the mother lode with her Sarah Booth Delaney mystery series.


May 7, 2007

Moving to Nantucket Island in 1986, Philbrick wrote a series of books about his new home. In his most recent book, Mayflower, Philbrick has mostly turned from the sea to the land.

. . . and the angels sang

Apr 30, 2007

This is a first-person narrative, told by Jon Simmons Bernier, a native of Alabama. Jon Bernier is a man of sixty, which seems young enough, but he has been through a lot.

John Sims Jeter is the older brother of novelist Sena Jeter Naslund, the author of the magnificent Ahab's Wife, and, most recently, Abundance: A Novel of Marie Antoinette.

The Jeters grew up in Birmingham, Sena attending Birmingham-Southern and Iowa while John went to Howard College and UAB.

Off Magazine Street

Apr 23, 2007

Obviously, I have come late to this novel. By the time I became aware of it, Off Magazine Street, published in 2004, was already a movie, A Love Song for Bobby Long, starring John Travolta and Scarlett Johansson.


Apr 16, 2007

The protagonist of Longleaf is fourteen-year-old Jason Caldwell, who is the son of academics?an astronomer father and a mother who is finishing up a doctorate in biology, herpetology to be precise. As part of his mother's research into frogs, Jason and his family are camping in Alabama's Conecuh National Forest, near Andalusia.

The Innocent Man

Apr 9, 2007

The life of Ron Williamson, convicted in Oklahoma of rape and murder and later acquitted, is reviewed in this book.

With the possible exception of books such as A Time to Kill and A Painted House, there is usually no real point in reviewing the annual novel by John Grisham. His loyal readers buy them and love them. Hollywood has turned nine of them into movies. His legal thrillers have sold 225 million copies in 29 languages.

Severance Stories

Apr 2, 2007

Choosing sixty-two beheaded subjects, some historical, some mythological, some playful, some serious, Butler has created sixty-two 240-word short-short stories, sometimes called flash fiction, yet these pieces have the density and intensity of prose poems, and, with their exact word length, the formality of sonnets.

Queen of Broken Hearts

Mar 19, 2007

This is, entirely, a relationship novel. I feel ethically obliged at this point to warn male readers that this book is by, for, and about women.

Midnight Red

Mar 12, 2007

When I picked up this novel, the first thing I saw was a bit of copy on the back cover: "In the summer of 2000, the Buckhead Vampire was at large."

Sledge's story is in large part a sad tale, however, due to the lack of preservation in Mobile. But, along the way, we learn a lot about the various kinds of ironwork, both locally manufactured and shipped from Philadelphia and NYC, how it came to flourish there, and what happened to it.

While fish had been raised for food for centuries in some cultures, it wasn't until recently that farmers in Alabama started raising catfish. Most of those people are, happily, still alive, and Karni Perez, an independent researcher in Auburn, has found them and talked to them.

Carry My Bones

Feb 19, 2007

Carry My Bones is an impressive debut novel, and very much an Alabama book. Yoder worked for a number of Alabama newspapers, including the Anniston Star, was an assistant to Rick Bragg in Appalachicola, and in his off hours wrote Carry My Bones.

Tubby Meets Katrina

Feb 12, 2007

Tony Dunbar has written several books on the South?about Mississippi, migrant workers, and Southern political radicals?and has won the Lillian Smith Award, given to a book which promotes racial understanding and harmony.