May 25 — I love it when a little book news happens.
COLUMBIA, S.C. — A major collection of letters, photos and publications of the late crime fiction author Dashiell Hammett has been acquired by the University of South Carolina and will be made available to students and scholars within the coming year.
Among the rugged, dedicated brotherhood of U.S. Army Airborne troops, the ceremony of “pinning” the silver jump wings on a newly certified parachutist has, in the past, shown a touch of blood sport.
Thanks to everyone for all the recommendations. If you were stumped by this requirement for the 2015 expand your reading challenge, I hope this list helps. The winner is Sandi Saunders — Sandi, I looked up "Death Note" and it sounds eerie, fascinating, and something I would enjoy. Fingers crossed I'll get to it before the end of the year. Please send a mailing address to firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll get this book out to you ASAP.
Anne Boleyn has fascinated writers for hundreds of years. Countless books and movies seek to decipher this mysterious, complex queen who divided opinion the day she caught Henry VIII's eye. Laura Andersen does not take a stance on Anne in her books set in Tudor England; in fact the queen exists only so Andersen can explore an interesting question: What if she had delivered the coveted son?
Got a book signing, book sale, or some other book-related event going on? E-mail me at email@example.com.
Tim McBride spent much of his life importing marijuana into the United States, and that’s the focus of this new memoir, “Saltwater Cowboy.”
A car crash that robs a man of his memory — it’s a common scenario in movies and books, but Robert Glancy spins it in delightful directions in his novel “Terms and Conditions.”
One of my colleagues enjoys American history. He reads a lot of books about the Civil War and biographies of presidents — material in which I have no interest. He has no taste for the literature I devour either: generous portions of young adult and historical stories, with a side of contemporary novels and just a sprinkling of nonfiction.
NEW YORK — William Zinsser, the much-consulted teacher, author, journalist and essayist whose million-selling book "On Writing Well" championed the craft of nonfiction and inspired professionals and amateurs to express themselves more concisely and vividly, died Tuesday at age 92.
Winners get to write history, but that doesn’t mean the losers go away. They skulk on the sidelines, hoping someone will give them a voice. Good news and bad news for them: Michael Farquhar did, but not in the way they would like. His newest book, “Bad Days in History,” doesn’t excuse, explain or justify people who wound up on the losing side of various historical events, just highlights them. Lots of them, one for each day of the year.
“Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation.” — Walter Cronkite, 1995
BLACKSBURG — Pam Puckett Frazier was about to become a work of art, and she was nervous about it.
George Sand, born Amandine-Aurore-Lucile Dupin (her father insisted she be called Aurore) in Paris in 1804, became one of the most accomplished and notorious literary figures of 19th-century France. She wrote avant-garde novels, most autobiographically based, dressed in men’s clothes, smoked cigars, and took as lovers many of the most important artists of the period, including the famous actress Marie Dorval and the composer Frederic Chopin. Elizabeth Barrett Browning, one of her many admirers, aptly defined her gender-bending nature in a sonnet to her: “Thou large-brained woman and large-hearted man.”
Ever since the publication of “Intern” by Dr. X in 1965, the reading public has shown an excellent appetite for stories of that medical year of trial by fire known as “internship.” Perri Klass, Sandeep Jauhar, William Nolen and others have successfully recounted the trials and tribulations of that first year after medical school. Here is the latest offering: Dr. Matt McCarthy’s first year as a resident in internal medicine at Columbia. How well did four years at Harvard Medical School prepare him?
In the late 18th century, the British colonies on the American continent declared their independence from Britain. There was a long war. There were formal declarations. There were pamphlets and newspapers spreading the views of the effort to replace royal sovereign with the sovereignty of the people (well, at least the white male property owners).
Last week a couple of books landed on my desk and I immediately got excited. Even though I hadn't heard of them or even the authors.
Author Graeme Cameron’s first novel, “Normal,” comes with an author bio that reads more like disclaimer, an insulation, perhaps, against a class-action lawsuit from disgruntled readers. We learn that he “has never worked as a police detective, ER doctor, crime reporter or forensic anthropologist.” It’s hard to understand the purpose of such a statement, unless it is either an apologia or a bit of braggadocio. After reading “Normal,” it is still hard to tell.
Sadness, jubilation. Despair, exultation. Cowardice, heroism. Incompetence, brilliance. All find their measures in this thoroughly researched, engagingly written drama, the concluding scenes of a war that had stretched over four years of time, and 200 years of powerful events, and which forever changed the face and spirit of our nation.
War typically is the domain of men, especially in the mid-19th century, and especially in the male-dominated culture of India.
Continuing on the theme of William Shakespeare (happy birthday/deathday, by the way), let's talk about plays.
I got excited about lots of your responses; not going to lie, I want to watch "Henry V" with Fred and act out "Twelfth Night" with Hannah. But Samantha Leigh, you won me over with the trivial tidbit about the bunnies and "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and for that you win a big book about Shakespeare. E-mail me a mailing address to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will get this book out to you ASAP.
April 20 — Thursday saw the second big Roanoke book event with the Roanoke Book and Author Dinner. I was out of town for it this year, but my colleague Mike Allen did an interview beforehand with author Garth Stein, one of the event's draws. Let me know if you went and if you enjoyed it; one of the Times' photographers was there was a guest and said it was good.
In her debut novel “The Bookseller,” Cynthia Swanson creates an unsettling world for protagonist Kitty Miller. Kitty seems to escape her life as the unmarried co-owner of a small town 1962 bookstore and owner of a frisky cat, by drifting into an apparent dream world where she is instead Katharyn Andersson, the married mother of three children in 1963 suburbia.
With two New York Times bestsellers behind her, author Lynne Truss introduces Alec, a retired librarian in Cambridge, who tells an incredible story of several cats who talk, read poetry, tear an office to shreds and commit ingenious crimes in “Cat Out of Hell.”
Garth Stein’s artistic career track began as co-producer of an Oscar-winning film and arrives in the present day as author of a novel about a NASCAR-loving dog that sold more than 4 million copies.
Louise Aronson has an M.D. from Harvard and an M.F.A. from Warren Wilson College. Her practice of medicine concentrates on the care of the elderly, geriatrics, and she’s involved in medical education. She’s also the author of 16 short stories compiled in “A History of the Present Illness.”
Three books published this spring provide an opportunity to look at the roots of the United States government — the forces that created the Constitution and the forces that have acted on it geographically and historically.
No, not zombies, something better than that: authors.
Rowan Coleman’s 11th novel, “The Day We Met” (“The Memory Book” in the United Kingdom), deals most immediately with Claire Armstrong, a bright and engaging woman in her 40s who suffers from the early onset of Alzheimer’s disease. The degenerative and disorienting effects accelerate rapidly throughout the novel.
Time passes, and the Greatest Generation is rapidly fading into history, along with first-hand tales of their combat actions. All the more reason, therefore, for author John Wukovits to provide a stirring account of the ordeal of the USS Laffey, one of the “little boys” of the Pacific Fleet, who with its crew was posted to the danger spot, Radar Picket Station No. 1, north of Okinawa.
Ugh, I meant to blog about this last week: In case you missed it, the cover art is out for "Go Set a Watchman," the sequel to "To Kill a Mockingbird." It strongly resembles the cover of one edition of "To Kill a Mockingbird," what with the tree and all, and the same or at least similar font. That has to be on purpose. We know the book is about Scout returning to her hometown, so presumably that's what the train is about. I think that's clever, to make the cover reminiscent of the first book and relate it so strongly to the new story.
March 30 — When you think of books, you probably don't think of coloring books, but they still count. Coloring books are fun, yes; they are also learning tools as Christiansburg children found out with local, history-themed books.
In 2012, British author Jo Baker wrote in a blog post about her decision to quit her day job and write full time. Her “aha” moment came after the usual angst over paying the bills, but she described the choice simply: “If I quit my job, I might come to regret it; if I don’t quit the job, then I definitely will.” Just such a dilemma faces the protagonist in “The Mermaid’s Child.”
It’s difficult to describe exactly what “He Wanted the Moon” is. It’s obviously a book, but it’s not quite a memoir and it’s not quite a biography. It hovers somewhere in between, and the best way I could think of describing it is as a sort of scrapbook.
I hope your mothers, sisters, friends and bosses were touched by your tributes. There were some lovely sentiments here, but I'm awarding the book to Deborah J. Good. Deborah, I hope I'm going as strong as your grandmother when I reach 103. E-mail a mailing address to email@example.com and I'll get this book out to you ASAP.
For a bird’s-eye view of the distinctive diversity of the architecture of western Virginia from the flatlands of Southside to the western gateway at Cumberland Gap, readers can enjoy a new study in the “Buildings of Virginia” series. Anne Carter Lee of Rocky Mount assembled a team of knowledgeable people who spent years compiling this valuable history.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where did you live before you came to Blacksburg and what did you do? What do you do now?
Quick, name the German-born scientist who developed the theory of relativity, revolutionized physics and won the Nobel Prize in 1921.
Beth Macy traveled to the past, the future and around the world to tell a large story about a small town, the big people who run businesses and the little people who struggle to earn a living.
Brendan Simms has distilled the history of the Battle of Waterloo down to the battle for one strategic position: La Haye Sainte (the sacred hedge) and the decisive performance by a group of Hanoverians called the King’s German Legion in his new book, “The Longest Afternoon.”
The invasion started in the Midwest.
The book sat, ignored, in my bookcase for years.
When I was in high school, someone — I can't remember who — told me I should read stuff by some columnist called Dave Barry.
Thank you, everyone, who participated in the giveaway. I really liked this book and encourage everyone to read it, but the winners are Suzanne Kauffman Cosgrave and Kimberly Vaccaro. Suzanne (great name, by the way) and Kimberly, please e-mail your addresses to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will get copies out to you immediately.
“This will be either the most interesting or the most boring addiction memoir you’ve ever read,” Patton Oswalt writes early on in “Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life from an Addiction to Film.”
Thomas Fleming has a passion for American history. When he speaks, you can hear enthusiasm in his voice; it is also evident in his writing. In “The Great Divide,” Fleming’s prose generates excitement in the reader by focusing on the key elements of a dramatic time in our country’s history — an epic conflict that began a debate about government that continues today.
ELLISTON — The guy who created “Captain Underpants” sent her a congratulatory email.
Amid the stacks of literature about the Civil War, little attention has been paid to Virginia’s strong Unionist movement that successfully opposed secession until the week before the mid-April showdown at Fort Sumter, South Carolina. What if the Unionists had prevailed — would the war have been averted?
Having lived in a small town her whole life, Luisa “Lulu” Mendez is desperate to escape. She has plans of going to the University of San Diego, or as far away from stuffy Dale, Virginia, as possible.
Barbara Caviness, of Penhook, Va., passed away Tuesday, May 26, 2015. Arrangements by Stanfield Mortuary Service, Rocky Mount, Va., 540-483-2902.
Ronald Stuart Holasek, 82, died on Monday, May 25, 2015.
Russell Hayward Robertson, 71, of Martinsville, Va., passed away Tuesday, May 26, 2015. Funeral Service will be 2 p.m. Friday, May 29, 2015, at Norris Funeral Services Inc. and Crematory, Martinsville, Va., 276-638-2778 .
Elmer Cecil Johnson Jr., 64, of Bedford, passed away Monday, May 25, 2015. Graveside Services will be 11 a.m. Saturday, May 30, 2015, at Mt. Olivet Memorial Park at Holy Land USA, Bedford. Arrangements by Flora Funeral Service and Cremation Center, Rocky Mount, 540-483-3835.