Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Publisher donates free copies of banned book in Randolph County

If they didn't want to read Ralph Ellison's classic novel, "Invisible Man" before last week, Randolph County high schools students may now be intrigued, following

the Randolph County school board's decision last week to ban the book from school libraries. The board voted after receiving a complaint from a parent objecting to language and sexual content.

On Wednesday, Sept. 25, students will get a chance to own the book, thanks to a former Randolph County resident who arranged to have Vintage Books donate free copies, according to Asheboro's Courier-Tribune.

The books will be distributed free to high school students, as long as they last, at Books a Million in Randolph Mall. Former Randolph resident Evan Smith Rakoff, an editor at Poets & Writers magazine, had the idea for the giveaway.

"Banning any book, but especially a great American novel like 'Invisible Man,' just doesn’t fit the values of the Randolph County I know,"  he told the Courier-Tribune.

A Vintage spokesman said the publisher was happy to help and hoped the attention would bring more readers to the wonderful novel. It will, of course, because it always does when something banned. Book banners never seem to figure that out.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Two Charlotte writers win $10,000 awards

 Two Charlotte writers, Aimee Parkison and Kathryn Schwille, are among 11 recipients of N.C. Arts Council literary fellowships for 2013-14.

The N.C. Arts Council awards the $10,000 fellowships to writers every other year to support new works by and creative development of N.C. artists.

Parkison, a UNC Charlotte English professor, is the author of two short story collections, "Woman with Dark Horses" and "The Innocent Party." She has won several writing prizes, including the 2004 Kurt Vonnegut Fiction Prize from North American Review. Read one of her stories: "Lessons from a Sinoloan Beauty Queen."

Schwille, a graduate of the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers and a former Charlotte Observer editor, has published short stories in various magazines, including one cited for Special Mention, Pushcart Prize. Read one of her stories: "FM 104."

Other fellowship winners and their art forms are:
  • Keith Flynn, poetry, Asheville.
  • Shirlette Ammons, poetry, Durham.
  • Valerie Nieman, poetry, Greensboro.
  • Catherine Reid, creative nonfiction, Asheville.
  • Leigh Ann Henion, creative nonfiction, Boone.
  • Liza Wieland, nonfiction, Arapahoe.
  • Monica Byrne, playwriting, Durham.
  • Janet Allard, playwriting, Greensboro.
  • Preston Lane, playwriting, Greensboro.

Friday, September 13, 2013

New books with North Carolina ties

This month’s book roundup includes new works by authors with varied North Carolina connections. Thomas Healy grew up in Charlotte. Carrie Jane Knowles lives in Raleigh. And Sharyn McCrumb and John Milliken Thompson, who both make their homes in Virginia, have chosen North Carolina as the setting for new historical novels.

“The Great Dissent: How Oliver Wendell Holmes Changed His Mind – and Changed the History of Free Speech in America” (Metropolitan Books; $28).
 Healy recounts how U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes moved from defending the punishment of controversial speech to writing a dissenting opinion that “gave birth to the modern era of the First Amendment, in which the freedom to express oneself is our preeminent constitutional value and a defining national trait.”

Before he became a Seton Hall law professor, Healy grew up in Charlotte, graduated from UNC Chapel Hill and worked as a reporter at Raleigh’s News & Observer. The New York Times says his book “deserves an honored place in the intellectual history of the Supreme Court.”

“Ashoan’s Rug,” (Roundfire Books; $13.95). Knowles’ new novel tells the story of a prayer rug that stretches over time and continents as it passes from owner to owner, inspiring and changing lives.

“King’s Mountain” (Thomas Dunne; $25.99). Bestselling author McCrumb (“The Ballad of Tom Dooley”) draws on research to bring to life North Carolina’s most famous Revolutionary War battle. Historical characters populating the book include some of her own ancestors who fought in the battle.

“Love and Lament” (Other Press; $15.95). Thompson sets this family saga in Chatham County between the Civil War and World War I. “Thompson perfectly captures the Carolina Piedmont’s sights, sounds, and flavors and convincingly depicts the turn-of-the-century South – haunted by the Civil War, and embracing old-time religion and new-fangled machinery and ideas,” Publishers Weekly says.

Book talks and signings
John Milliken Thompson will sign copies of “Love and Lament” at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Park Road Books, 4139 Park Road.
Sharyn McCrumb discusses “King’s Mountain” at 7 p.m. Oct. 3 at Park Road Books; 2 p.m. Oct. 5 at Kings Mountain National Military Park in Blacksburg, S.C.; and 5 p.m. Oct. 7 at Mauney Memorial Library, 100 S. Piedmont Ave. in Kings Mountain.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Bestselling author Nicholas Sparks in Charlotte Sept. 20

Bestselling author Nicholas Sparks will sign copies of his new novel, "The Longest Ride," at 5 p.m. Sept. 20 at Barnes & Noble at The Arboretum, 3327 Pineville-Matthews Road.

Sparks, who has sold more than 90 million books, will only sign copies of "The Longest Ride," and you've got a to buy the book from Barnes & Noble. The store is expecting a crowd, so employees will be handing out free tickets, required for the signing, beginning at 9 a.m. Sept. 20. Check the store for more details.

"The Longest Ride," set in North Carolina, tells stories of two couples -- 91-year-old Ira Levinson and his late wife, Ruth, and a Wake Forest College student named Sophia who falls in love with Luke, a young cowboy.
 As the book opens, Ira is alone and injured after wrecking his car on an isolated embankment.

Sparks lives with his family in New Bern, where he's active in several philanthropic efforts.