Arts & Life

Books
9:43 am
Mon November 16, 2009

"Dixie Noir" by Kirk Curnutt

Curnutt is a good-natured man but not a comic writer. I had hoped, and for a few pages felt, that "Dixie Noir" was something lighter. It seemed at first as if Curnutt were having some fun with noir, that this novel might be a send-up of the noir genre, something like what Garrison Keeler does in Guy Noir, Private Eye, but this turned out definitely not to be the case.

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Books
12:50 pm
Mon November 9, 2009

"The Most They Ever Had" by Rick Bragg

Many of these stories are sad stories. The reader is more likely to weep than smile, but they will affect you.

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Books
10:49 am
Mon November 2, 2009

"Black Maverick: T.R.M. Howard's Fight for Civil Rights and Economic Power"

Some mark the start of the modern Civil Rights Movement with the Montgomery bus boycott. Some, closer to correct, mark it at the murder of Emmett Till. But no mass movement starts big, all of a sudden.

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Books
11:58 am
Mon October 26, 2009

"The Best of Alf Van Hoose"

Alf Van Hoose is a name surely well known to many Alabama newspaper readers. Van Hoose worked at the "Birmingham News" for 43 years.

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Books
12:02 pm
Mon October 12, 2009

"The Pillared City: Greek Revival Mobile," by John S. Sledge, Photography by Sheila Hagler

In Alabama, Greek Revival may have flourished best in Mobile, but when planters from the Black Belt came to town to meet with their cotton factors and to shop, they liked what they saw and sometimes had their country rural places built in this style.

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Books
3:00 pm
Mon September 28, 2009

"Mighty by Sacrifice: The Destruction of an American Bomber Squadron, August 29, 1944"

WWII veterans are passing on now at a rapid rate and the generation that came home and resumed civilian life and said so little about their experiences will soon be silent forever. Their stories, like the ones the Noleses have captured in this book, must not be lost.

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Books
11:48 am
Mon September 21, 2009

Alabama Illustrated: Engravings From 19th Century Newspapers

Although the five illustrated newspapers from which the engravings in Alabama Illustrated were taken were all published elsewhere, two in New York, two in Boston and one in London, the readers of these papers had a strong curiosity about life in the American South.

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Books
10:26 am
Mon September 14, 2009

"The Wrong Side of Murder Creek: A White Southerner in the Freedom Movement,"

This is a story told calmly, without bitterness or self-aggrandizement. I admired Zellner's candor about his adversaries, without a smarmy mellowness. He has, as a Christian, mostly forgiven, but he has not forgotten.

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Books
4:59 pm
Mon September 7, 2009

"When the Buddha Met Bubba: A Novel," by Richard "Dixie" Hartwell

This clever tale ranges widely, making references not only to Buddhism, the Talmud and Christian foot-washing, but also Cesar Milan, the dog whisperer, and new age ideas such as "wherever you are that is where you are supposed to be."

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Books
3:08 pm
Mon August 31, 2009

"Beyond the Miracle Worker: The Remarkable Life of Anne Sullivan Macy

We may know Annie Sullivan mainly from the play and the movie "The Miracle Worker," but she was famous long before those. She and Keller were national, even international, celebrities in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, performing on the lecture circuit, in vaudeville, even in a movie.

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Books
3:06 pm
Mon June 29, 2009

Steve Renfroe, by Katherine Kilgore

By the end of the novel, I had become so irritated with Caroline and so unsympathetic, that I no longer cared whether she decided to go to Florence, Alabama, to teach school or marry the lawyer from Birmingham or do whatever else she wants. Good luck to her.

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Books
11:48 am
Mon June 22, 2009

Yazoo Blues, by John Pritchard

This novel is a lascivious, sex-filled, dirty comic routine. It's not for everyone, but if you can stand it, there's a laugh on every page.

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Books
11:43 am
Mon June 15, 2009

Vicksburg, 1863, by Winston Groom

Vicksburg, 1863, is Groom's fifteenth book, and it is beginning to look as if he will be known, in the end, as Winston Groom, gifted narrative historian, not just as the author of Forrest Gump, notwithstanding how delightful that novel is.

Vicksburg, 1863, is Groom's fifteenth book, and it is beginning to look as if he will be known, in the end, as Winston Groom, gifted narrative historian, not just as the author of Forrest Gump, notwithstanding how delightful that novel is.

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Books
3:50 pm
Mon June 8, 2009

The Devil's Garden, by Ace Atkins

The writing career of James Lee Burke is, in many ways, typical. After a half dozen literary novels that did not sell much, Burke created his South Louisiana detective, Dave Robicheaux, and the Robicheaux books have come in a steady and profitable stream now for many years.

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Books
11:49 am
Mon June 1, 2009

Up Close: Harper Lee; A Twentieth-Century Life, by Kerry Madden

As the author of To Kill a Mockingbird, which has sold, as we all now know, over thirty million copies in forty languages, and may be the best selling American novel of all time, of course she deserves to be there. There is no question this is an intelligent, organized, respectable piece of work; the better question is whether this book ever needed to be written at all.

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