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Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Salman Rushdie come to Asheville with new novel

Atheist believes in genies, novel revealsby Rob Neufeld             Salman Rushdie’s latest novel—“Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights” (1,001 nights)—has permitted me to come up with a headline as wild as the one above because the book is so exuberantly and infectiously…See More
15 hours ago
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Rob Neufeld posted discussions
Jan 31
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

73 classic works about Appalachia going online

Key Appalachian studies publications now going onlinefrom press release, Jan. 27. 2016 Appalachian studies scholars and those interested in regional history will have greater access to out-of-print works thanks to a two-year National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Open Book Program grant totaling $88,000 awarded to Belk Library and Information Commons at Appalachian State University.  Pamela Mitchem, the library’s coordinator of digital scholarship and…See More
Jan 30
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

John Parris' home-grown prose

South of Sylva, back of yesterday: John Parris' inspiration             “For the life of me, I just can’t understand why folks stopped usin’ cradles,” John Parris’ 97-year-old maternal grandfather had told him 60 years ago.            The oil lamp, the buggy, and the spinning wheel—they all were replaced by things…See More
Jan 27
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

James Sturm expands scope of graphic novels

James Sturm blazes cartoon path to a new worldby Rob Neufeld             Why is it that when an author combines pictures with words, the medium is considered juvenile, like comics?  Words create literature; images, art.  Why, when you marry them, is it like pairing a milk cow with a mop?            Nothing against…See More
Jan 24
susannah eanes posted a blog post

The Writer as Pilgrim

Two articles leapt at my consciousness this week, both about writing. And suddenly, I know how to go forward from here. The first, The Price I Pay to Write, by Laura Bogart and published online in Dame Magazine, reflects on the difficulties of…See More
Jan 24
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Tired of thrillers with no soul?

Why read a 1940 man-on-the-run classicby Rob Neufeld             After reading a classic novel, you might think, “Oh, look at this superior ancestor of today’s fiction.”              For instance, “The Power and the Glory,” Graham Greene’s 1940 thriller about political oppression in Mexico, exemplifies the…See More
Jan 17
Susan True updated their profile
Jan 9
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Art of Grace by Sarah Kaufman

Dance critic applies grace to every moveby Rob Neufeld             It’s nice to find just the right word for something, especially when it sums up a main idea in your way of thinking.            That was the case with Sarah Kaufman when she’d first felt moved, nine years ago, to write her new book, “The Art of Grace” (W.W.…See More
Jan 9
City Lights Bookstore posted events
Jan 9
Rob Neufeld posted blog posts
Jan 8
Kathryn Hall posted a blog post

Fire and Ice Roses interview with author/gardening blogger Kathryn Hall

Fire and Ice Roses has been interviewing gardening bloggers and gardening experts and were kind enough to include this short interview recently which was quite fun and very much appreciated! http://fireandiceroses.com/ask-an-expert-kathryn-hall/See More
Jan 5
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

History in the making, January 2, 2016

History in the making: items of note, January 2, 2016It was reported in today’s print edition of the Asheville Citizen-Times that a new state law went into effect, requiring people who’ve filed for unemployment benefits to make at least 5 job contacts a week.  It had been 2.  How will that work?  Are there that many jobs for which a person is qualified?  Can you apply to the same job twice if it continues to be listed? Paul Bonesteel, noted Asheville filmmaker, revealed on Facebook that a…See More
Jan 2
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

Local event of the day, Jan 1 2016

Tarantino, eminent domain, and emancipation Tarantino comes to townQuentin Tarantino’s New Year’s gore and gabfest, The Hateful Eight, is gutted by New Yorker reviewer Anthony Lane, who says that Tarantino toys with rather than explores history, using it “for boyish fantasies of revenge, as if enormous crimes could be undone, after the event, by lone and wanton acts of humiliation.” …See More
Jan 1
Rob Neufeld's discussion was featured

Railroad history in Western North Carolina: a close-up and bottom-line look

Railroads in WNC: the perils, the people, and the profitby Rob NeufeldWritten in conjunction with exhibit, "How The West Was Won," in Rural Heritage Museum, Mars Hill University PHOTO CAPTION: The entrance to the railroad show at the Rural Heritage Museum is commanded by a mock-up of Climax engine…See More
Dec 24, 2015

The pointers suggest many good reads:


Holiday book buying list, The Read on WNC

New WNC Books

Also see Best Books 2012, of Part 2

Daily Beast Top 10 (Lucas Wittmann)


The Yellow Birds By Kevin Powers

From the breathtaking opening paragraphs, you know you are in for a novel of exquisite and careful writing about the most horrible things. After 11 years of war, we finally have a fiction that dodges Heller’s shadow and goes right to the heart, our hearts.

The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson

I like books that take risks on being topical (see above), and I was in awe of what Stanford English professor Adam Johnson is able to do in his funny, terrifying novel about an orphan’s picaresque life in North Korea (from fighting in tunnels to listening to Japanese broadcasts on a fishing boat to being remade as a heroic general). From one short visit Johnson creates a world where only fiction is true.

Dear Life By Alice Munro

She just gets better and better. Her leanest writing yet, so quiet and subtle you’ll miss lines that devastate her characters and then you. Her most autobiographical collection too, with a series of linked stories around a young girl finding her way in a rural, complicated world.

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain

As I said, I like topical. If Powers dodged Heller’s shadow, then Ben Fountain has taken it on his shoulders and can justifiably claim the mantle of the great satirist of the Iraq War. But he keeps his eyes firmly on the home front as the boys of Bravo Company, minted war heroes by YouTube, return to ogle cheerleaders, get patted on the back by millionaires, and entertain the crowd at a Dallas Cowboys halftime show.

Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

Should really be called “Power and How to Use It.” The most compelling study of political power since The Prince. OK, that’s hyperbole, but Mantel’s brilliant portrayal of the dark master of Henry VIII’s as he moves inexorably toward Anne Boleyn’s execution is profound. Pair this with Caro’s latest LBJ volume, and you’re on your way to world domination.

Joseph Anton by Salman Rushdie

So Rushdie’s memoir has gotten a bit (a lot) of flak this year, like most years for the author, and some of it was deserved. To start, it’s too long by half, but that first half, say those initial 270 pages, give one of the most compelling accounts of a life on the run I’ve read, and a deeply important testament to one of the great political and moral questions of our time: Can a man or woman speak without facing death?

The Barbarous Years by Bernard Bailyn

I didn’t think they wrote history like this anymore, but here comes Bernard Bailyn, at the age of 90, to wow us with a work so elegant, assured, and masterful that you need to read no other book to understand America between 1600 and 1675. To put it simply, life was nasty, brutish, and short, as great civilizations (the Dutch, the Powhatens, the Iroquis, the Swedes) crashed and burned, and what was left was what became this country.

Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story by D.T. Max

I’m a little biased here, because I edited an excerpt from this book (and the author’s wife is a colleague), but the imposing writer of this generation, David Foster Wallace, was all legend until Max started peeling. What he reveals, at times devastating and wrenching, but always fascinating and judicious, is that heroic figures come from somewhere, and it doesn’t make them any less monumental to know where that is.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

So much has been written about this wondrous book that I have little to add, except that 10 months after reading it I still have no idea how she did it.

Far from the Tree by Andrew Solomon

The biggest-hearted book of the year, and the book that every parent, wannabe parent, used-to-be parent should read. Solomon sets out to find out the love and tears and joy of what happens when your kids are deaf, autistic, prodigies, dwarves, and so on.

 

Slate Top Ten of 2012

Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo.  New Yorker staff writer Boo “has many ways of illuminating the people she writes about,” Elaine Blair wrote in February. “The most important and obvious is that she listens closely and intelligently.” For this, her first book, which recently won the National Book Award, Boo spent over three years listening to the residents of a Mumbai slum.

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain.  The young men of Bravo company visit Cowboys Stadium in this funny and wrenching novel, which is seeded “with finely honed insights that reflect the hypocrisy and jingoistic thinking that dominate discussions about the country's wars,” wrote Jacob Silverman in September. And Fountain’s writing is “head-shakingly good.”

Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel. The sequel to Wolf Hall (both books won the Booker Prize), this story of Thomas Cromwell, according to William Georgiades’ May review, chronicles “the careful, patient rage of the consummate professional in a world of highborn twits who never see him coming.” The worst you can say about Mantel, he adds, is that the book “makes you angry, because you want more.”

Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story by D.T. Max. New Yorker writer Max’s sympathetic biography of David Foster Wallace is “one of the saddest books I’ve ever read,” wrote Mark O’Connell in September. The book offers both illuminating discussions of Wallace’s editorial life and harrowing depictions of his depressive end. “I’m having trouble remembering when I was last so consumed by any piece of writing, fiction or non.”

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. This thriller about a marriage gone toxic was the book that everyone you know took to the beach this summer—and this best-seller lives up to the hype. “This is not the kind of book that sits on your bedside table unread,”said Emily Bazelon in the September Audio Book Club. Instead, it’s a book that readers refuse to put down—and that wraps them up in its seductively corrupt worldview.

Journalism by Joe Sacco. This collection of comics journalism, which tells stories reported in Iraq, Chechnya, and other nasty places, makes a case that our best war correspondent might just be a cartoonist. “Sacco grants dignity to his subjects—the petty tyrant and the suffering victim alike—simply through the meticulousness with which he renders them,” Campbell Robertson wrote in July.

The Lifespan of a Fact by John D’Agata and Jim Fingal. In this “enraging, fascinating, singular book,” according to Dan Kois’ February review, a journalist and a fact-checker go to war about whether the falsehoods incorporated in a magazine story matter. The result is a Talmudic debate about storytelling, truth, and lies that spills off the page.

NW by Zadie Smith. This novel, set in and around a council estate in northwest London, is remarkably perceptive about female friendship, race, and class. But it’s also “an argument,” Hanna Rosin noted in the December Audio Book Club, “between two different ideas of what a novel should be”—part lyrical-realistic storytelling, part modernist deconstruction of the very idea of story. As a whole, it’s a masterful, emotional portrait of a city as seen through four of its residents, striving and failing to move beyond the neighborhood where they were born.

The Unreal and the Real by Ursula K. Le Guin. “There is no better spirit in all of American letters than that of Ursula Le Guin,” wrote Choire Sicha in November. This two-volume collection of her masterful short stories – one book of science fiction, the other of the mundane – “guns from the grim to the ecstatic, from the State to the Garden of Eden, with just one dragon between.”

Wild by Cheryl Strayed. Strayed’s chronicle of her 1,100-mile trek along the Pacific Crest Trail is “by turns both devastating and glorious,” wrote Melanie Rehak in March. The memoir’s value isn’t in oh-so-wisely answering questions – it’s in asking “many, many new questions far more valuable than any platitudes about self-discovery.”

New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2012

 

National Book Awards

Fiction

WINNER:

Louise Erdrich, The Round House (Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers) - Interview >

FINALISTS:

Junot Díaz, This Is How You Lose Her (Riverhead Books, a member of Penguin Group USA, Inc.)
- Interview >

Dave Eggers, A Hologram for the King (McSweeney's Books) - Interview >

Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk (Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers) 
- Interview >

Kevin Powers, The Yellow Birds (Little, Brown and Company) - Interview >

FICTION JUDGES:

Stacey D’Erasmo, Dinaw Mengestu, Lorrie Moore, Janet Peery

Non-fiction

WINNER:

Katherine Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity (Random House)
- Interview >

FINALISTS:

Anne Applebaum, Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1945-1956 (Doubleday) 
- Interview >

Robert A. Caro, The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume 4 (Knopf)

Domingo Martinez, The Boy Kings of Texas (Lyons Press, an imprint of Globe Pequot Press)
- Interview >

Anthony Shadid, House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

NONFICTION JUDGES:

Brad Gooch, Linda Gordon, Woody Holton, Susan Orlean, Judith Shulevitz

Poetry

WINNER:

David Ferry, Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations (University of Chicago Press) - Interview >

FINALISTS:

Cynthia Huntington, Heavenly Bodies (Southern Illinois University Press) - Interview >

Tim Seibles, Fast Animal (Etruscan Press) - Interview >

Alan Shapiro, Night of the Republic (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Susan Wheeler, Meme (University of Iowa Press)

POETRY JUDGES:

Laura Kasischke, Dana Levin, Maurice Manning, Patrick Rosal, Tracy K. Smith

Young People's lLiterature

WINNER:

William Alexander, Goblin Secrets 
(Margaret K. McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing)

FINALISTS:

Carrie Arcos, Out of Reach (Simon Pulse, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing)

Patricia McCormick, Never Fall Down (Balzer+Bray, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers)

Eliot Schrefer, Endangered (Scholastic)

Steve Sheinkin, Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World's Most Dangerous Weapon
(Flash Point, an imprint of Roaring Brook Press)

YOUNG PEOPLE'S LITERATURE JUDGES:

Susan Cooper, Daniel Ehrenhaft, Judith Ortiz Cofer, Gary D. Schmidt, Marly Youmans

Washington Post

NONFICTION
Behind The Beautiful Forevers, Katherine Boo
House of Stone, Anthony Shadid
Iron Curtain, Anne Applebaum
Marigold: The Lost Chance for Peace in Vietnam, James G. Hershberg
Why Nations Fail, Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson

FICTION
Arcadia, Lauren Groff
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, Ben Fountain
Bring Up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel
Broken Harbor, Tana French
Canada, Richard Ford

(See more.)

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