Friday, May 31, 2013

Two Carolinas writers, two new family sagas



In bookstores this month: Two new family sagas – one from an acclaimed N.C. author, the other by a fresh voice from South Carolina.

Craig Nova’s “All the Dead Yale Men” (Counterpoint Press; $26), is the sequel to his 1982 novel, “The Good Son.” It’s out June 11.

Nova, a creative writing professor at UNC Greensboro, is author of 14 novels and an autobiography. In “The Good Son” he explored father-son relationships through the story of Pop Mackinnon, who uses his money to manipulate his son Chip into a marriage when Chip returns from World War II. In a review of the book in 1982, the New York Times raved that Nova’s fiction “is so powerful, so alive, it is a wonder that turning its pages doesn’t somehow burn one’s hands.”

“All the Dead Yale Men” continues the family’s story, examining the consequences of Chip’s decision in a tale told through his son Frank.

“The odd thing,” the book begins, “is that when I looked into how I was being cheated, not because of the money but because of the principle of the thing (fathers shouldn’t cheat sons), I discovered things about my family, and my grandmother in particular, that I never dreamed possible.”

The book has earned starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist, which says the Mackinnons, “both here and in ‘The Good Son,’ leave their edgy mark on the modern American literary landscape.”

Susan Tekulve’s “In the Garden of Stone” (Hub City Press; $17.95) is the latest winner of the South Carolina First Novel Prize. Novelist Josephine Humphreys, who judged the contest, chose Tekulve’s multi-generational family saga for this biennial award. Set in and around a poor West Virginia coal mining town, it’s the story of an Italian immigrant family from the 1920s to the 1970s.

Tekulve, who teaches writing at Converse College in Spartanburg, begins her story in 1924, in a mining town filmed with coal dust. In the first scene, 16-year-old Emma is helping her mother boil water for laundry, pouring it into a wooden tub where they toss her father’s and brothers’ blackened work shirts.

In a starred review, Kirkus Reviews calls the novel “Lyrical, haunting literary fiction.”  Tekulve will read and sign copies 2 p.m. June 16 at Park Road Books, 4139 Park Road.

Friday, May 17, 2013

New books from North Carolina authors

A fanciful novel, two memoirs and an exploration of modern domesticity are among new books from N.C. authors.

Two sisters and Roam, the dark, magical town that binds them, are the subject of Daniel Wallace’s novel, “The Kings and Queens of Roam.”

Wallace, who teaches at UNC Chapel Hill, is best known for his novel “Big Fish,” which became a 2003 Tim Burton movie. Kirkus Reviews has given this novel (Touchstone; $24) a starred review, describing it as “layered in symbolism and ripe with lyrical language.”

Charlotte poet and writer Rebecca McClanahan recounts her family’s history in her memoir, “The Tribal Knot: A Memoir of Family, Community, and a Century of Change” (Indiana University Press, $22).

When she inherited more than 1,000 family documents – letters, journals, postcards and more –McClanahan, who teaches in Queens University’s MFA program in creative writing, writes that she “could not resist the impulse to stitch these lives back together, in part to discover my own place in the tribal constellation.”

In another memoir, “Once Upon a Gypsy Moon,” Raleigh’s Michael Hurley writes of two years he spent sailing from Annapolis to various ports. Hurley, a lawyer, was short on money, jobless and divorced when he set sail. The book (Center Street; $19.99) chronicles his journey of personal discovery.

Why are a generation of smart, educated young people canning jam, knitting and embracing other labor-intensive tasks that their mothers shunned?

Emily Matchar explores a growing do-it-yourself movement that favors home births, home schooling and home-grown vegetables in “Homeward Bound: Why Women are Embracing the New Domesticity” (Simon & Schuster; $26). Matchar, who splits her time between Chapel Hill and Hong Kong, has written about culture, food, women’s issues and more for a number of magazines.
Author events

Author readings

Rebecca McClanahan will talk about craft and read from “The Tribal Knot” at the May meeting of the Charlotte Writers Club, 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 21, at Queens University’s Sports Complex & Conference Center, 2229 Tyvola Road. She’ll read in Sykes Auditorium at Queens at 8 p.m. Friday, May 24.

Daniel Wallace will discuss and read from “The Kings and Queens of Roam,” 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 22, at Park Road Books, 4139 Park Road.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Davidson writer wins poetry competition

Davidson College's Alan Michael Parker  is this year's Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition winner for his poem, "The Ladder."

Parker will receive $200 and his poem will be published by storySouth, an online literary magazine. Parker has published two novels, including "Whale Man," and seven poetry collections, including "Long Division," which won the 2012 North Carolina Book Award for the best collection of poetry. He has also won three prestigious Pushcart Prizes.

Parker, a Davidson College English professor, directs the school's creative writing program.

The Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition honors the work and legacy of the late Randall Jarrell, who won the National Book Award for his poetry in 1961 and taught at UNC Greensboro for 18 years before his death in 1965. This year's competition, open to N.C. residents and members of the N.C. Writers' Network, drew 122 entries.

 "The Ladder" hasn't been published yet, but check out another Parker poem, "After Love," which recently appeared in Slate.