BOOKS ROUNDUP: A poet’s view of the Bull City

Jun. 01, 2013 @ 02:48 PM

Durham figures prominently in UNC professor Tony Reevy’s new collection of poems, “Old North” (Iris Press, $14). Reevy groups this collection of poems about North Carolina under the standard geographical locations of mountains, Piedmont and coast. He gives Durham a special section, titled “Tobacco Town/Tobacco County.” Reevy’s poems pay homage to the Eno River, Blind Boy Fuller, and other Bull City sites and historical figures.
Given recent developments with Liberty Warehouse, his description of Liberty Café is all the more poignant: “I peer / through the window / under a forever-dark neon sign.”

Here are some other recent releases and scheduled readings:

-- Which hurricanes that have hit this state were the most deadly, or the most storied? To answer that question, pick up the fourth edition of Jay Barnes’ “North Carolina’s Hurricane History” (University of North Carolina Press, $35, cloth). Barnes has updated this guide to include more recent storms, including Sandy in 2012.
Barnes begins with “A Hurricane Primer,” a brief lesson in the fundamentals of these storms, then discusses some of the major storms that have hit North Carolina since 1524. Each hurricane cited includes a small map of the storm’s track, along with descriptions of the damage, interesting stories from the storm, and plenty of photographs.  This is a wonderful work of geography, history, and – for those who lived through some of these storms – maybe even a bit of nostalgia.

-- In the introduction of his novel “The Bookman’s Tale: A Novel of Obsession” (Viking, $27.95), Charlie Lovett writes of “that familiar scent of cloth and leather and dust and words.” Peter Byerly, an antiquarian bookseller, visits a bookstore in Wales and finds a painted portrait in an old book that strikingly resembles his wife, who has died and whom Byerly is grieving. The novel chronicles Byerly’s attempt to learn of the origins of the painting.
Lovett, a former antiquarian book seller himself, will sign copies of “The Bookman’s Tale” at 7 p.m. June 20 at The Regulator Bookshop in Durham, and at 2 p.m. June 22 at McIntyre’s Books in Pittsboro.

-- From 1952-1987, Janet Groth was the 18th-floor receptionist at The New Yorker, a time when she worked closely with poet John Berryman, Truman Capote, and many other writers who worked at the magazine. Groth, now a retired professor of English, wrote about her experiences at the magazine in “The Receptionist: An Education at The New Yorker.” Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill has just released the paperback edition of “The Receptionist” ($14.95).
Algonquin also has reissued chef and food writer Marlena de Blasi’s memoir “A Thousand Days in Venice: An Unexpected Romance,” in paperback ($14.95).

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