As novels go, criteria for reading during the summer seems to be a seaside story setting because of the assumption we’ll all vacation at the beach at some point. What is for sure, though, is that a more consistent staple of summer down time includes our families.
The first thing Clyde Edgerton ever wrote that was published was for a high school teacher. He grew up in Bethesda, in Durham County, and the assignment he and his buddies received was to take a tadpole down into the woods and let it go. They went into the woods, got lost, and were late for school. Edgerton told his teacher what happened, and she told him to “write it up.”
Celia Szapka, Toni Peters and Virginia Spivey are among the many women who contributed their intellect and labor to the successful completion of The Manhattan Project that produced the atomic bomb.
Things really do come full circle. Remember when the earliest of the baby boomers went “back to the land” for a more authentic life experience? In “Homeward Bound: Why Women Are Embracing the New Domesticity” (Simon & Schuster, $26), Emily Matchar examines the many ways that a younger generation of women (and men) are raising chickens, knitting, making their own food, homeschooling, homesteading and doing any number of do-it-yourself projects.
Fair or not, Chapel Hill writer Elizabeth Spencer is probably known to many for her novel “The Light in the Piazza,” which was made into a movie, and later a Tony Award-winning musical. “Landscapes of the Heart,” a new documentary funded by Durham’s Southern Documentary Fund should help introduce new readers to the full body of work of this Southern writer.
Even jazz listeners who are not familiar with the Baroness Nica de Koenigswarter have heard some of the compositions she inspired. She was nicknamed “Pannonica” from a young age, and pianist-composer Thelonious Monk, for whom de Koenigswarter acted as patron and friend for many years, wrote a composition of the same name dedicated to her. Other pieces inspired by the baroness are “Nica’s Dream” by Horace Silver, “Tonica” by Kenny Dorham, “Poor Butterfly” by Sonny Rollins, and many more.
After reading a Jill McCorkle novel or short story, you feel like you know the characters well enough that you could sit down at lunch with them and pick up conversations where McCorkle left off.
From Lookout Books, a publishing house connected with UNC Wilmington, comes the debut memoir from essayist Ben Miller, titled “River Bend Chronicle: The Junkification of a Boyhood Idyll amid the Curious Glory of Urban Iowa” ($17.95, paperback). The memoir is Miller’s chronicle of “a boy’s quest to make his life more than the sum of its worst moments in a chaotic household,” according to the accompanying press materials.
In observance of its 30th anniversary, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill will publish a new series of books titled Algonquin Young Readers. Beginning in August, Algonquin will release five books geared to young readers: “The Time Fetch,” by Amy Herrick; “Three Ring Rascals Book I: The Show Must Go On!” by Kate Klise, illustrated by M. Sarah Klise; “Anton and Cecil: Cats at Sea,” by Lisa Martin and Valerie Martin, illustrated by Kelly Murphy; “If You Could Be Mine,” by Sara Farizan; and “Somebody up There Hates You,” by Hollis Seamon.
“ I Never Promised Not to Tell”
By Grady Jefferys (CreateSpace publishers, $12.95)
The Durham County Library will present the following programs in its continuing Humanities Series. All events are free and open to the public.
If Reynolds Price had not died two years ago, he would have celebrated his 80th birthday last month.
Why am I thinking about Price today?
This coming June will mark the 50th anniversary of the murder of Medgar Evers, the NAACP field secretary for Mississippi, by a white supremacist. The horror of that crime and other acts of injustice would lead to the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, followed by the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
“Remembering Medgar Evers: Writing the Long Civil Rights Movement”
By Minrose Gwin (The University of Georgia Press, $22.95 in paperback)
When descendants of Irish immigrants wear green next Sunday and tip a glass to Ireland, they’re likely doing so in a bit of a party atmosphere. What they might forget is that many of them are in the U.S. because an ancestor fled the Irish Potato Famine in the late 1840s.