Friday, March 29, 2013

Book donation = chicken sandwich

 Four Charlotte-area Chick-fil-A stores will be rewarding folks who bring in donations of good-condition used books, CDs and DVDs in April with free chicken sandwiches.

The collected donations are going to the Friends of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library's big annual used book sale, which opens to the public on April 12.  This year, it's at 1330 Central Ave. in Plaza-Midwood.

Here's the scoop: You'll get a free chicken sandwich if you donate at least five good-condition books, CDs or DVDs  5-8 p.m.  at one of these four stores during the dates indicated:

  • Cotswold Chick-fil-A, 4431 Randolph Road, April 1-6.
  • Northlake Chick-fil-A, 8411 Northlake Commons Blvd., April 1-6
  • Matthews Chick-fil-A, 9905 Matthews Park Drive, April 8-13
  • Arboretum Chick-fil-A, 3217 Pineville-Matthews Road, April 8-13
Check my blog next week for more details on the book sale. And remember: Nobody wants your old encyclopedias. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

New books from North Carolina authors

Remember Dr. Moreau?

The title character in H.G. Wells’ 1896 science fiction novel, “The Island of Doctor Moreau,” got himself exiled from England after performing gruesome experiments with animals.

Now he’s back, playing a supporting role in “The Madman’s Daughter” (Balzer+Bray; $17.99), the first of a trilogy from Asheville’s Megan Shepherd (pictured at left).

As this gothic horror novel opens, Dr. Moreau’s estranged daughter, Juliet, is describing her job at King’s College in London. She cleans the operating theater where medical students dissect cadavers. “Dead flesh and sharpened scalpels didn’t bother me,” she explains. “I was my father’s daughter, after all.”

How did Shepherd decide to revisit Dr. Moreau? She’s a huge fan of the television series “Lost,” she told me, and “Lost,” set on an island, made her remember “The Island of Doctor Moreau,” which she’d read as a teenager.

Shepherd, 30, read a lot as a teenager. Her parents, Peggy and Tim Hansen, have owned Brevard’s Highland Books for 37 years. As an infant, she slept behind the counter. When she got older, she worked there. “It was my personal library,” she says.

‘Cobalt Blue’

In Peggy Payne’s “Cobalt Blue,” Andie Branson, a 38-year-old commercial artist in Pinehurst, has an unexpected physical religious experience known as “kundalini rising.” Payne, who lives near Raleigh, is author of “Sister India.” Her new novel (Roundfire Books; $20.95) tracks Andie’s spiritual awakening.

‘Remembering Medgar Evers’

On a June day in 1963, Medgar Evers, the NAACP’s field secretary, was shot in the back as he unloaded a stack of “Jim Crow Must Go” T-shirts in his own driveway in Jackson, Miss.

In “Remembering Medgar Evers: Writing the Long Civil Rights Movement” (University of Georgia Press; $22.95), UNC Chapel Hill English Professor Minrose Gwin writes of Evers’ times and the deeper meaning of his life and murder. Her work examines fiction, poetry, memoir, drama and songs that emerged following Evers’ death. They include works by James Baldwin, Eudora Welty, Bob Dylan and Willie Morris.

‘Until Proven’

Nora Gaskin’s novel, “Until Proven: A Mystery in Two Parts” (Lystra Books; $11.95), is the story of the murders of two young women who are killed in their homes 40 years apart. The book is based on an unsolved Chapel Hill murder. Gaskin, who lives in Chatham County, will read and sign copies at 2 p.m. April 6 at Charlotte’s Park Road Books, 4139 Park Road.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Charlotte writer reveals 'The Wisdom of Hair'

Charlotte author Kim Boykin hasn’t changed her hairstyle for going on two years now. This is significant, I believe, and if you read Boykin’s debut novel, you’ll see why.

In “The Wisdom of Hair” (Berkley; $15), 19-year-old Zora May Adams leaves her crazy mother and her S.C. mountain home to start a new life. She lands in a town near Myrtle Beach, where she learns to cut, style and color at the state’s best beauty school.

Along the way, she befriends Sara Jane, a classmate whose parents embrace Zora like a second daughter. She also develops a crush on a handsome widower.

I won’t give away the ending. I will say that one relationship proves more enduring than the other. 
Boykin told me she drew inspiration for the book’s salon scenes from years spent hanging out at her mom’s place, Betty’s Beauty Salon in New Ellenton, S.C.

But don’t assume you’re reading veiled autobiography. Zora’s fictional parents aren’t stand-ins for Boykin’s parents, Betty and Bryan Standridge, who now live in Fort Mill. Boykin’s father did not die in a tragic accident and her mother isn’t an alcoholic who dresses like Judy Garland.

In fact, Boykin lived a boring, happy childhood, “which sucks if you’re a writer,” she says on her website “because you have to create your own kind of crazy.”

But back to Boykin’s hairstyle for a moment. As her novel opens, Zora is explaining the problem with cutting your own hair. 

Once you start, she says, “you just keep cutting, trying to fix it, and the truth is, some things can never be fixed. The day of my daddy’s funeral, I cut my bangs until they were the length of those little paintbrushes that come with dime-store watercolor sets. I was nine years old. … I was too young then to know I was changing my hair because I wanted to change my life.”

Boykin, 55, has stuck with the same style since June 2011, when she pitched her unsold novel to New York literary agents and got a great response. She sold it six months later. She had worked on the book for years. It’s the first thing she’s ever published. So, life is good. Why change your hair?

Meet the author
Kim Boykin will be one of five authors speaking about their books, 7-9 p.m. March 11 at Park Road Books, 4139 Park Road. The event also features Gina Holmes (“Wings of Glass”), Holly Goddard Jones (“The Next Time You See Me”), Megan Miranda (“Hysteria”) and Margaret Wrinkle (“Wash”).