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.


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