Friday, March 14, 2014

Back on the books beat

I'm happy to be back in this space.

When I was first hired as book editor, following the late Harriet Doar, a blue haze of cigarette smoke suffused the newsroom, and typewriters clattered away. No one had ever heard of Google.

That was 1975, and for the next 17 years, I wrote about books and authors. In 1992, I took over Polly Paddock’s metro column and she edited the book page.

The only thing that hasn't changed since 1975 is my love of books, which I'll be writing about every other week in this space and on my blog.

Recent good reads: Claire Messud’s novel “The Woman Upstairs,” Molly Haskell’s memoir about her brother’s sex change, “My Brother, My Sister,” and UNC-Wilmington Janet Ellerbe’s “Following the Tambourine Man: A Birth Mother’s Memoir.”

I wanted to lick the pages of Robert Caro’s fascinating “The Passage of Power: The Years of LBJ.”

I’m immersed in three advance review copies of memoirs: “Under Magnolias” by Frances Mayes of Hillsborough, “The Only Sounds We Make,” by Lee Zacharias of Greensboro, and “My Shining Hour” by Wilson County native Louise Shivers of Augusta, Ga.

Roger Angell charmed me with his “Life in the Nineties” (The New Yorker, Feb. 17, 2014).

I drive two grandkid carpools so audio books are a must: Recent excellent historical fiction: “The Good Wife,” (about Ernest Hemingway), “Loving Frank” (about Frank Lloyd Wright) and “Sarah’s Key” (about a French family during the Holocaust).

Poetry? For me, that’s a daily fix -- on the Web (How a Poem Happens: Contemporary Poets Discuss the Making of a Poem, in individual collections and in journals. (Field, Georgia Review, Poetry, Ploughshares, among them.)

A favorite poet, New York’s Joshua Mehigan, will read in Queens University’s Ketner Auditorium at 8 p.m. on March 27. Don’t miss him.

A favorite novelist and historian, Hendersonville native Robert Morgan, will speak at 8 p.m., March 26, at the Hilton Garden Inn in Pineville. Registration required: 704-889-7145.

Dirty-little-secret reads: Facebook; The community page of the DNA website 23andme.( Recent post: “I grew up an ‘only child’ and discovered 7 years ago that I have 2 sisters. We even went to the same high school.”

More online indulgences: Apartment Therapy, Longreads: The Best Long Form Stories on the Web, and the off-beat humor across the genres at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency.

My favorite places to read: In bed and on trains.

I’ll keep you posted on what’s new, especially from Carolinas authors, what these writers are up to, and who’s reading what and where.

Meanwhile, I’m open to your suggestions.


John Clark/Dialectic Voyeur said...

Yes... Messud's novel is outstanding.

Whistler's Daughter said...

So glad you're back!