Arts & Life

Books
9:03 am
Mon May 4, 2009

The Help: A Novel, by Kathryn Stockett

Kathryn Stockett received a BA in English and creative writing from UA, worked in magazines in NYC for nine years, and now lives in Atlanta. This is her first novel and it is a marvel, a great read, engrossing and fast-paced.

Kathryn Stockett received a BA in English and creative writing from UA, worked in magazines in NYC for nine years, and now lives in Atlanta. This is her first novel and it is a marvel, a great read, engrossing and fast-paced.

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Books
9:25 am
Mon April 27, 2009

"Fanning the Spark: A Memoir," by Mary Ward Brown

Brown's many devoted fans will take in this book avidly, wanting to know every detail of her life, even though it is a life spent mainly rooted in middle Alabama, on a farm, without global travel except for one trip to Russia, or politics or scandal, or rich, famous, important friends and acquaintances.

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Books
12:59 pm
Mon April 20, 2009

Truman Capote's Southern Years: Stories from a Monroeville Cousin, by Marianne M. Moates

In tiny Monroeville, Alabama, population about 1,400, in the 1920s and '30s, Nelle Harper Lee and Truman Capote were friends and next-door neighbors.

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Books
10:14 am
Mon April 13, 2009

Outcasts United: A Refugee Team, An American Town, by Warren St. John

So this is a story, truly, of the Fugees and soccer, but also of the American immigrant experience as it takes place in the 21st century, with global influxes. St. John demonstrates that the process is often difficult, but with good will and common sense, it can be done.

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Books
10:45 am
Mon April 6, 2009

Awesome, A Novel, by Jack Pendarvis

I am a fan of Jack Pendarvis's work, and believe him to be our most promising rising southern humorist. Pendarvis had some marvelous stuff in his two collections of short pieces-The Mysterious Secret of the Valuable Treasure and Your Body Is Changing. Awesome is his first novel and, although there is a lot of comic stuff, there are problems.

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Books
2:22 pm
Mon March 9, 2009

The Adventures of Douglas Bragg: A Novel, by Madison Jones

Jones' hero is young Douglas Bragg, who is 24 years old, has graduated from college, lives in Birmingham, Alabama in 1960 and has itchy feet. He will go out to see the world, heading north, hitchhiking.

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Books
1:14 pm
Mon March 2, 2009

Frankly, My Dear: Gone With the Wind Revisited, by Molly Haskell

Familiar to many from her guest appearances on Turner Classic Movies with Robert Osborne, Molly Haskell is one of our country's foremost movie critics, historians, and interpreters. Haskell has every credential needed and brings all her skills to bear in this book on GWTW. It is often said of Venice, there is no more to be said about Venice. One might think that about GWTW also. But Haskell has taken some new approaches towards this classic book and movie and there are new insights.

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Books
9:33 am
Mon February 23, 2009

Wishbones, by Carolyn Haines

Wishbones is the eighth in Carolyn Haines' "Bones" series, and is a little different from its predecessors. The series' premises were set out in Them Bones. Sarah Booth Delaney returns to her home, Dahlia House, in Zinnia, Mississippi, Sunflower County, because the family place is threatened with foreclosure. Sarah Booth's parents died in a crash when she was twelve and she has been in NYC in a not very successful attempt to establish a career as an actress.

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Books
3:22 pm
Mon February 16, 2009

The Agnostics: A Novel, by Wendy Rawlings

Rawlings has a pleasing style, a good eye for the Tom Wolfe "status life" detail, draws convincing and realistic characters and has certainly captured the tone of this slice of the 70's and 80's. This novel reads smoothly, and I enjoyed it, even if I could not finally figure out whose side Rawlings was on. Maybe that is after all its greatest strength.

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Books
2:50 pm
Mon February 9, 2009

The Millionaires: A Novel of the New South, by Inman Majors

Majors has published The Millionaires, set in Knoxville in the 1970s, and it is a marvel. The Millionaires, with its wry, sophisticated narrative voice, a voice in full control, is the best, most fully accomplished new novel I have read in perhaps three years.

Inman Majors is a native Tennessean, was educated at Vanderbilt and then came to Tuscaloosa to take the MFA degree in creative writing. After completing the MFA, Majors published his respectable debut novel, Swimming in Sky, set in Knoxville.

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Books
2:32 pm
Mon February 2, 2009

The Fair Hope of Heaven: A Hundred Years After Utopia, by Mary Lois Timbes

Timbes is something of an expert on Fairhope, having written a previous Fairhope book, Meet Me at the Butterfly Tree, with Robert E. Bell. She has a pride in the town's unusual history, and she has a lament, a sad feeling, for what has happened to Fairhope recently. So this book serves as a kind of warning to pleasant, quaint places everywhere.

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Books
12:15 pm
Mon January 19, 2009

Nursery Rhyme Noir: The Hasp Deadbolt Files, by David C. Kopaska-Merkel

Nursery Rhyme Noir is not quite flash fiction but it is only one notch up?the short-short. Kopaska-Merkel has created a P.I., Hasp Deadbolt, often mistakenly called Deadbeat, to tell these stories. Read aloud, or even silently, Deadbolt sounds like Garrison Keillor's Guy Noir...

Physicians like Michael Crichton and Steven Rudd do it.

Ad men like Philip Shirley do it

Almost all attorneys, it seems, do it.

So it should be no big surprise that geologists want to do it too.

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Books
1:42 pm
Mon January 12, 2009

In the Company of Owls, by Peter Huggins. Illustrated by Paula G. Koz

This novel may simply be mislabeled and should be marketed as a "chapter book," that newish genre in between children's books?in which the story is told primarily through pictures?and young adult. The plot is thin and the characters not much developed, but if the readers are 7-10, it should be appropriate.

In the Company of Owls, by Peter Huggins. Illustrated by Paula G. Koz

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Books
11:28 am
Mon January 5, 2009

Jim Crow and Me: Stories from My Life as a Civil Rights Lawyer, by Solomon S. Seay, Jr.

Solomon Seay did not wish to write an autobiography or a memoir and he has not. This volume is, as the subtitle indicates, a collection of anecdotes, mainly stories from his decades as a civil rights attorney in Alabama, mainly from 1957 to 1977. In a way, this format is more effective than a regular biography, because the day-to-day life of almost anyone is not that interesting. Seay's book is, then, a series of dramatic scenes, which are, I think, what we remember most from histories and biographies anyway.

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Books
3:44 pm
Mon December 22, 2008

Fields of Asphodel (A Novel), by Tito Perdue

Tito Perdue, now retired on the family property in Brent, Alabama, has been writing for twenty-five years, with critical but not much popular success. At the end of Perdue's fourth volume of fiction, the protagonist, Leland "Lee" Pefley, dies at age 73. On the first page of Fields of Asphodel, Pefley, who always introduces himself as Pefley, the Alabama branch, wakes up in the afterlife, the underworld, but not exactly the Christian heaven or hell or purgatory.

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