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New Stories From the South, 2005
Over the past two decades, New Stories from the South has been identified as “one of the most significant and eagerly anticipated annual collections of American short stories” ( Booklist ). The quality of the selections and the skill of its editor, Shannon Ravenel, have been lauded: “Excitingly original stories from new and recently emergent writers make this now-venerable annual a must for readers who mean to keep up with contemporary short fiction. . . . Ravenel is one of the most resourceful and intelligent editors in the business” (Kirkus Reviews).
Kicking off the eight season of North Carolina Bookwatch, Ravenel treats us to works by Robert Olen Butler, Dennis Lehane, Moira Crone, Tom Franklin, Michael Parker, Rebecca Soppe, and Bret Anthony Johnston, among many others, and a preface by the inimitable Jill McCorkle. Whether it's a young woman taking her teacher to task for favoring his more beautiful students, or a couple on the edge of despair with their colicky baby, or a neighbor who takes too much interest in the girl next door, the Chapel Hill, NC, resident shares how this year's selections illustrate the ways in which a good story can electrify a reader.
No One Gardens Alone: A Life of Elizabeth Lawrence
Elizabeth Lawrence (1904-1985) lived a singular, contradictory life. She was a true Southerner; a successful, independent gardening writer with her own newspaper column and numerous books to her credit; a dutiful daughter who cared for her elders and always lived with her mother; a landscape architect; an accomplished poet; a friend of literary figures like Eudora Welty and Joseph Mitchell; and a woman people called "St. Elizabeth" behind her back. Lawrence earned many fans during her lifetime and gained even more after her death with the reissue of many of her classic books.
When Emily Herring Wilson edited a collection of letters between Lawrence and famed New Yorker editor Katherine S. White in Two Gardeners , she found legions of readers, in the South and elsewhere, who were eager to know more about the legendary Lawrence.
Now, one hundred years after her birth, Emily Herring Wilson shares her book No One Gardens Alone with North Carolina Bookwatch, telling the story of this fascinating woman. Like classic biographies of literary figures such as Emily Dickinson or Edna St. Vincent Millay, Herring Wilson reveals Lawrence in all her complexity and establishes her, at last, as one of the premier gardeners and writers of the twentieth century.
Walking On Water: Black American Lives at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century
In a hypnotic blend of oral history and travel writing, author Randall Kenan sets out to answer a question that has has long fascinated him: What does it mean to be black in America today?
To find the answers, Kenan traveled America—from Alaska to Louisiana, from Maine to Las Vegas—over the course of six years, interviewing nearly two hundred African Americans from every conceivable walk of life. The result is a marvelously sharp, full picture of contemporary African American lives and experiences packed into his latest book, Walking on Water.
Miss Julia's School of Beauty
Miss Julia's wildly popular escapades have kept readers coming back again and again. In Miss Julia Meets Her Match , she finally succumbed to Sam's charms and became Mrs. Murdoch. Will marriage dampen this proper lady's sense of adventure? Fortunately for her growing legion of fans, the answer is no.
In Ann B. Ross's latest in the series, Miss Julia's School of Beauty , Hazel Marie is organizing a beauty pageant to raise money for the sheriff's department and enlists Miss Julia's help in teaching the contestants etiquette and poise. Between settling into a new, unfamiliar home and refereeing the squabbles between Sam's housekeeper, James, and her beloved Lillian, Miss Julia could use a distraction. But when Hazel Marie and Little Lloyd—who are still in residence at her old homestead—have a dangerous domestic mishap that only she can set right, Miss Julia packs up and moves back home, Sam in tow. In this episode of North Carolina Bookwatch, Ross shares the ins and outs of her unlikely heroine and her hilarious marriage mishaps.
Looking for Longleaf
Covering 92 million acres from Virginia to Texas, the longleaf pine ecosystem was, in its prime, one of the most extensive and biologically diverse ecosystems in North America. Today these magnificent forests have declined to a fraction of their original extent, threatening such species as the gopher tortoise, the red-cockaded woodpecker, and the Venus fly-trap. Conservationists have proclaimed longleaf restoration a major goal, but has it come too late?
In Looking for Longleaf, Lawrence S. Earley explores the history of these forests and the astonishing biodiversity of the longleaf ecosystem, drawing on extensive research and telling the story through first-person travel accounts and interviews with foresters, ecologists, biologists, botanists, and landowners. On this episode of North Carolina Bookwatch, Earley demonstrates how, in the twentieth century, forest managers and ecologists struggled to understand the special demands of longleaf and to halt its overall decline. The compelling story Earley tells in his latest offering, gives hope that with continued human commitment, the longleaf pine might not just survive, but once again thrive.
A Well Tempered Mind
A Well-Tempered Mind: Using Music to Help Children Listen and Learn documents an acclaimed music and education program developed a decade ago by Winston-Salem Symphony conductor and music director Peter Perret.
In this episode of North Carolina Bookwatch, Perret shares how he, with arts and education writer Janet Fox, penned the charming story of this local program, formed when five musicians walked into a first-grade classroom in Winston-Salem, N.C., instruments in tow and without a word, began playing, to enthusiastic response from the children. The program's aim was to try to improve the general academic performance of at-risk, economically disadvantaged children in a Winston-Salem public elementary school and use music as a means to learn. The results are significant and thought-provoking.
Blood Done Sign My Name
On May 11, 1970, Henry Marrow, a twenty-three-year-old black war veteran, walked into a crossroads store in Oxford, NC, owned by Robert Teel and came out running. Teel and two of his sons chased and beat Marrow, then killed him in public as he pleaded for his life. In the wake of the tragic killing, young African Americans took to the streets. While lawyers battled in the courthouse, the Ku Klux Klan raged in the shadows and black Vietnam veterans torched the town's tobacco warehouses. Timothy Tyson's father, the pastor of Oxford's all-white Methodist church, urged the town to come to terms with its bloody racial history. In the end, however, the Tyson family was forced to move away.
In 2005, Timothy Tyson's compelling new chronicle of this racially-motivated murder, Blood Done Sign My Name, became the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill'sSummer Reading Program Selection for incoming college students. Now, Wake County has selected the book for its 2006 “Wake Reads Together,” following close behind Rocky Mount's pick of the same book for its “One Book, One Community” program. New Hanover County also chose Blood Done Sign My Name for a similar program earlier this year.
Today, Tim Tyson's riveting narrative of that fiery summer brings gritty blues truth, soaring gospel vision, and down-home humor to a shocking time of American history. In the upcoming encore episode of UNC-TV's literary series North Carolina Bookwatch, Tyson joins host DG Martin to discuss the engaging bookthat is touching North Carolina towns from across the state.
Remembering Bill Neal
A gifted chef, restaurateur, and writer working at a time when Americans were beginning to take a new interest in their culinary heritage, Bill Neal (1950-1991) helped raise Southern food to national prominence. Having rescued spattered and faded recipe cards from the Chapel Hill restaurant they founded together, Bill's former wife and business partner, Moreton Neal, has compiled a book that embodies the diversity and range of his cooking and illustrates the aesthetic that he applied to making meals.
On this encore episode, Moreton Neal discusses her part-cookbook, part-memoir, Remembering Bill Neal, containing more than 150 recipes--most of them never published before--from all stages of Bill's career: classic French dishes from La Résidence, Southern traditional cooking from Crook's Corner, and fast and easy recipes from home. Neal shares how the recipes both instructs and entertain, showing the lasting importance of Bill Neal's influence in the American regional cooking movement as well as being a muse and a mentor to a generation of Southern home and professional cooks.
In Bulletproof Girl, Quinn Dalton offers eleven raw and witty stories powered by a rich mix of women's voices. The stakes are high in these diverse narratives. "Dinner at Josette's" explores the nature of female friendships in the story of a woman whose best friend is in love with a gay man. "Midnight Bowling" follows seventeen-year-old Tess as she escapes her fanatically religious mother's pipe dreams and her dead father's legacy. In "Lennie Remembers the Angels," a woman confronts a long-ago vision as she recovers from a hit-and-run accident. In "Graceland," a once supportive businessman's wife turns to murder. And in "How to Clean Your Apartment," a jilted lover creates a spring cleaning reference guide as she tries to get over her man.
In this encore episode, Dalton shares her dynamic anthology, at times tragic and savagely funny, from this strong new voice in fiction.
Pushing the Limits: New Adventures in Engineering
In the ever-increasing push for longer bridges, taller buildings, bigger stadiums, and grander projects of all kinds, engineers face new challenges that redefine our sense of both aesthetics and functionality. Henry Petroski's Pushing the Limits describes two dozen adventures in engineering that provide a fresh look at the past, a unique view of the present, and a telling glimpse into the future of the discipline and how it affects our lives.
The breadth and depth of Petroski's erudition and his passionate interest in the art of design and in building have earned him the title of America's poet laureate of technology, and his exploration of the complexity of what goes into design continues to stretch the imagination.
In this encore interview with host DG Martin, Petroski tells the stories of significant and daring enterprises—some familiar, some virtually unknown, and some that are still only dreams—in their historical and technological contexts. Petroski also shares the great technological disasters throughout his book, such as the 1928 failure of California's St. Francis Dam, the 1999 tragedy of the Texas A&M Bonfire, and the September 11, 2001, collapse of New York's World Trade Center towers and other structural calamities.
Lately, sea turtles have been turning up in the most unusual places around author Bill Morris's Croaker Neck, a small coastal fishing village in the Down East region of North Carolina. Dodge Lawson sets out to learn who is behind the eco-pranks. He fears it might be his friends—a dying breed of backwater buckaroos struggling to retain their traditions and self-sufficient way of life. In his new novel, Saltwater Cowboys, Morris yields a quirky quagmire of environmental intrigue as he captures the clash between the Down East way of life and the modern world.
In this encore presentation, The Carteret County resident shares how in the heck he created his fictional “Croaker Neck” and the town's the irresistibly inhabitants who succeed in spite of their own shortcomings.
Amy Tiemann's book Mojo Mom is designed to help every woman explore the essential question, “ Who am I, now that I am a Mom?” Covering topics that are vital and relevant for new mothers and seasoned Moms alike, Tiemann teaches you how to take loving care of yourself right now, as well as planning for new interests and paths to develop as your kids grow older.
In this encore episode, Tiemann addresses the unrealistic expectations that society has placed on mothers and focuses on helping other women get rid of guilt and reclaim what she refers to as "Mojo"—that feeling of being at your best as a mother and as an individual.
Robert F. Irwin 40 Years
Artist Robert F. Irwin asserts that each painting, each project in life, is a portal to the next. His new collection of art Robert F. Irwin 40 Years successfully communicates that the most fascinating aspect of an artist's life is a state of continual transformation.
In this encore interview, the Beaufort resident introduces his elegant full-color tome chronicling his life as an artist from childhood to today. In doing so, he shares the deep richness of his collection and how his images reflect on a life fully lived.
The Pleasure Was Mine
"My wife has gone. I can't say that I blame her. ... She had probably had enough of my temper, my dark moods, my foul mouth, my all-around disagreeable self. ... She had probably had enough of what most everybody wondered and some, over the years, were rude enough to ask: How in the world did a tall, thin, fair-skinned beauty and one of the most respected high school English teachers ... in all of South Carolina ... wind up married to a short, dark, fat-faced, jug-eared house painter?"
While this sounds like the prelude to a typical novel about divorce and infidelity, for author Tommy Hays it serves as a setup for the transformation of a family in which an older man cares for his wife during her descent into Alzheimer's. Hays's elegiac, penetrating description of a disintegrating marriage frames the landscape of this brilliant novel about love, loss, marriage and family. In this encore episode, the Asheville, N.C., author shares his hopeful treatment of this difficult subject.
Mary Kay Andrews's heroine—Interior decorator Keeley Rae Murdock—has designed her whole life, right down to the antique Oriental rug planned for the foot of her bed. What she never counted on was discovering her fiancé, A.J. Jernigan, cavorting with her maid of honor in the middle of her rehearsal dinner. She pitches a hissy fit that reverberates through her tiny hometown of Madison, Ga., and captures the attention of Will Mahoney, a freckled newcomer.
Darker than the book's fluffy title suggests, this black comedy is ripe with shocking secrets. In this encore episode, Andrews shares her delicious social satire that will be sure to satisfy fans of fine fiction.
Loonis: Celebrating a Lyrical Life
People who knew Loonis McGlohon will tell you that he was probably the most extraordinary individual they ever met: jazz pianist, Presbyterian choir director, songwriter, composer, civic leader, humanitarian, award-winning broadcaster, devoted husband and father. He chose to live and work in his home state of North Carolina, but he played before enthusiastic audiences across America and around the world, and wrote songs that were performed and recorded by some of America's most famous singers, including Frank Sinatra and Eileen Farrell.
Jerry Shinn's new biography Loonis! Celebrating a Lyrical Life is an affectionate, humorous, fascinating, and inspiring look at this remarkable man and his Eastern Carolina roots, his family, his friends, his community and state and, most of all, his music. In this encore presentation, Shinn shares the larger story of Loonis McGlohon's creative, gracious, and generous life.
If You Want Me to Stay
In Michael Parker's new novel, If You Want Me to Stay, Joel Dunn Jr. tells the story of how he did everything he could to save his family after his mother left and his father's tenuous hold on sanity unraveled. On a journey from the town of Trent, North Carolina, to the coast, Joel and his little brother Tank thread their way back to their mother, fueled by potato chips, Coke, and the soundtrack of the powerful soul music that their daddy taught them to love. Always keeping the faith that their mother is waiting for them, they move from one kindly stranger to another on their odyssey, Joel ever certain they are being guided to her door.
In this encore episode, Parker introduces his tale of two sons caught between the endless idealism of childhood and the sobering tests of adulthood and shares how his characters bravely negotiate their way through a local landscape of love and beauty, abandonment and betrayal, to learn that the one sure thing is often right by your side.
A Southern Tragedy in Crimson and Yellow
In 1991, a chicken plant burned in Hamlet, N.C. The fire exits had been locked to keep the employees from stealing—allowing workers to be trapped in the burning warehouse where 26 died. Lawrence Naumoff's new book A Southern Tragedy captures the social realism of this horrific event and the economic downturns, failing work ethic and the mistrust shared by employer and employee that marked this tragic Southern story.
In this encore episode, Lawrence Naumoff shares his spirited, sometimes darkly humorous, and always thoughtful, docu-fictional Southern novel.
Broken As Things Are
From the day that Morgan-Lee is born, her extraordinarily beautiful and withdrawn older brother, Ginx, has been obsessed with her. Sharing a secret language, they escape together into a make-believe world. Unable to articulate his emotions, except through garbled, nonsensical words, Ginx becomes increasingly disturbed by Morgan-Lee's desire for friendships beyond the closed circle of their sibling love. The summer that Morgan-Lee turns fourteen she encounters the strange Sweety-Boy and her half-brother Jacob, and is faced with having to choose between her love for the increasingly violent Ginx and a life without him.
In a luminous voice, author Martha Witt creates both the intense, private world of childhood and imagination in her latest book Broken As Things Are. On this encore episode of North Carolina Bookwatch, Witt introduces her novel capturing the inevitable and necessary pain of separation that comes when Morgan Lee finds love beyond her fractured family.
Visions of Victory: The Hopes of Eight World War II Leaders
Visions of Victory explores the views of eight leaders of the major powers during World War II— Hitler, Mussolini, Tojo, Chiang Kai-shek, Stalin, Churchill, de Gaulle, and Roosevelt—and compares their visions of the future. Astonishing in its synthesis and scope, author Gerhard Weinberg's comparison of the individual portraits of the wartime leaders culminates into a highly-original and compelling study of history that might have been.
In this episode, Weinberg discusses each leader's "vision of victory" in a postwar world, including Hitler's intent for Germans to inhabit all of Eastern Europe, both Mussolini's intent to have extensive colonies in Africa, Churchill's hope to see the re-emergence of the British and French empires, De Gaulle's desire to annex the northwest corner of Italy, Stalin's wish to control Eastern Europe and Roosevelt's realistic vision to establish the United Nations.