Arts & Life

Books
3:37 pm
Mon March 3, 2008

Blonde Faith

Blonde Faith

Blonde Faith is the tenth Easy Rawlins mystery. The character, based on Mosley's own African-American father, was born and raised in Houston, saw fierce combat in the European Campaign in WWII, especially the Battle of the Bulge, and returned home to find he could not live in overtly bigoted Houston, so moved to make his life in LA, where the prejudice was more subtle and somewhat less lethal.

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Books
9:15 am
Mon February 18, 2008

The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation

The Race Beat

This is not another general history of the civil rights movement but rather a focussed study of the role played by reporters, newspaper editors, radio reporters, still photographers, and, finally and most importantly, television reporters and their crews: cameramen and sound technicians.

Gene Roberts and Alabamian Hank Klibanoff have won the Pulitzer Prize for The Race Beat, so it is not risky for me to say it is terrific. But it really is.

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Books
11:14 am
Mon February 11, 2008

The Entitled: A Tale of Modern Baseball

The Entitled

This is an insider baseball book, and this is the perfect month for baseball fans to read The Entitled. Since the World Series, fans have survived on the methadone of football. Now that the Super Bowl is over, there is nothing.

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Books
12:34 pm
Mon February 4, 2008

Capote in Kansas: A Ghost Story

Capote in Kansas

Capote in Kansas is not a terrible novel. Things happen. Truman has a lover, a married air conditioner repairman. He sends ghoulish collages and tiny handcarved coffins through the mail. On the phone, Truman and Nelle reminisce about their childhood in Monroeville. The characters are believable; the plot moves. It's not a terrible novel; it's an offensive novel.

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Books
11:49 am
Mon January 28, 2008

Great with Child: Letters to a Young Mother

Great with Child

The letters, warm, smart, loving, honest, useful, are now a book, and well worth anyone's time, pregnant or not. (I suspect that Fennelly's agent thought, as I do, that this is a book that could have legs, as they say in publishing, and sell for decades.)

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Books
4:29 pm
Mon January 21, 2008

All Guts and No Glory: An Alabama Coach's Memoir of Desegregating College Athletics

All Guts and No Glory

This memoir is more cameo than epic and Elder's story might have been told better. But it is fascinating to see how he was determined to put his experiences on the record and name names. And we should bear in mind this all happened in the 1970s, not the 1930s.

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Books
1:48 pm
Fri January 11, 2008

Southern Belly: The Ultimate Food Lover's Companion to the South

Southern Belly: The Ultimate Food Lover's Companion to the South by John T. Edge

Organized state by state, this is a guide to the finest . . . what shall we call it? Down home cooking? Country cooking? Soul food? Traditional southern fare? This is a guide to BBQ, fried chicken, fried catfish, sausages, oysters raw and cooked, crawfish, hushpuppies, Brunswick stew, smoked mullet, collard greens and pot likker, and a dozen different kinds of biscuits, cornbread, and rolls.

Southern Belly

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Books
10:08 am
Fri January 11, 2008

New Stories from the South: 2007?The Year's Best

New Stories from the South: 2007?The Year's Best edited by Edward P. Jones

Short story anthologies are stepchildren in the publishing world. First, they are, I think, unfairly associated with the classroom. That's always too bad. And one is more likely to read a collection by an author one already knows and admires, say John Updike or William Gay. People also favor collections that are thematically based?hunting stories or stories set on Cape Cod, or stories about dogs, although there should be a moratorium on those.

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Books
2:19 pm
Mon December 31, 2007

Revenant

Revenant

There are certain venues?times and places?that are problematical or, alternatively, rich for a novelist. If, for example, a novel is set in Honolulu on Saturday, December 6, 1941, any conversation between characters about what they plan to do tomorrow, go on a picnic, say, is fraught with meaning?to the reader, not to the characters. The same holds true for New York City in early September 2001, and so on. Carolyn Haines sets her new novel, Revenant, in August of 2005 on the Mississippi Coast, in Biloxi.

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Books
12:20 pm
Mon December 24, 2007

The Far Reaches

The Far Reaches

This is an action-adventure novel, a thriller, a yarn, and needs to be taken as such. In the first chapters Thurlow is part of the Marine landing on Tarawa, one of the nastiest battles of all the nasty battles of the Pacific. The Marines went ashore on the wrong tide, the Higgins boats got hung up on the reef and shelled to pieces, and many Marines drowned trying to walk to shore in battle gear. The defending Japanese marines either died in combat or committed suicide. There were nearly no prisoners.

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Books
12:24 pm
Mon December 17, 2007

Supreme Conflict: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Control of the United States Supreme Court

Supreme Conflict

Supreme Conflict is more than a history of the findings of the court for the last fifteen or so years. Based on interviews with nine justices, over a dozen federal appeals court judges, scores of officials from several administrations, and years of research in the Library of Congress and the Reagan and Bush presidential libraries, this is a reliable behind-the-scenes account of how the court's decisions got made and, more importantly, why and how the new justices of the last decade have been chosen.

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Books
1:27 pm
Mon December 10, 2007

The Bellmaker's House

Theodore Pitsios

But the novel's great strength is in the freshness of the material, the subject matter. As a number of us have been saying for some time, there are more stories in Alabama than high school football, losing your virginity, and the relationship between the races. This, like Roy Hoffman's fine novel of the Jewish-American experience in Mobile, Chicken Dreaming Corn, is another piece of the Alabama mosaic

The Bellmaker's House

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Books
12:48 pm
Tue December 4, 2007

The Holiday Season

The Holiday Season by Michael Knight

Michael Knight, of Mobile, has written a pair of novellas about the holidays. One, the title story, covers Thanksgiving and Christmas, and the other, "Love at the End of the Year," New Year's Eve, the party that always disappoints.

Ah, the holidays. Family. Food. Good times. We look forward to the gatherings and remember them fondly. Sometimes maybe more fondly than they deserve. Often, they disappoint. Expectations too high?

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Books
4:24 pm
Fri November 30, 2007

King of Country

King of Country

The real king of country was, of course, Alabama's Hank Williams. To make sure the reader understands that his protagonist Bobby Lee Butler is not a thinly veiled Williams, the first scene in the novel is young Bobby Lee attending Hank's famous funeral in Montgomery. Bobby Lee is also from Georgiana, knew Hank, has the music in his blood, and is a skinny, poor, white boy with no power or connections in this world. Life will be hard.

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Books
10:31 am
Fri November 30, 2007

American Wars, American Peace: Notes from a Son of the Empire

American Wars, American Peace: Notes from a Son of the Empire

American Wars reads fast, like running downhill, like reading Philip Roth or Saul Bellow. Beidler has great skills at historical summarizing and drawing together the political and the popular arts, but he is never better than when he is writing the personal, the events that happened to him, the issues that enrage him.

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