While looking through his deceased mother’s papers in the early 1990s, Carlton Harrell found several letters from the War Department. In one of them, dated April 1942, Capt. Adolph Rosengarten Jr. of the 11th Infantry asked his mother Nellie Harrell, “Will you aid in the defense of your country as a civilian observer?”
There is going to be a new free summer music series in downtown Durham next month, and local bands have a chance to be in it.
Seven crime authors will be reading and signing books at the bar 106 Main (located at 106 E. Main St.) in Durham during the city’s first “Noir at the Bar” event. This reading, signing and mingle event begins Thursday at 6:30 p.m. and continues until 9:30.
Author Beth Hoffman, whose “Saving CeeCee Honeycutt” was a bestseller, has a new novel out in paperback, “Looking for Me.” It is set in two locations, one quite a bit more famous than the other – rural Kentucky and Charleston, South Carolina. But it is a Kentucky farm that is most vividly depicted, not just for the nearby wilderness but the emotional attachment felt by the main character, Teddi Overman. Teddi leaves home for the coast and a job restoring antiques and furniture and eventually, her own shop. But that’s not what her mother wanted, a woman whose approval Teddi both rejects and seeks. Her mother isn’t the only person drawing her back home. Her brother Josh disappears as a teenager, assumed gone into the wild, but Teddi doesn’t know for sure. As she learns more about her mother’s life, she learns more about herself, her brother and also her father.
“A Long Time Gone” (NAL, hardcover, $25.95) is Karen White’s best novel to date. It’s hard to explain exactly why, but if you’ve read her other work and then pick up this one, you’ll see. The relationships are more fraught. Mississippi is more vivid. Emotions are not just at the surface, but above it. Details bring you further into the story. And White’s writing draws you into small-town Mississippi in 1927 before the flood and in 2013 when another storm unearths a body buried long ago. “A Long Time Gone” has characters who are each intriguing, likeable and unlikeable, sometimes all on the same page.
Durham County Library will celebrate the start of Summer Reading 2014 with a kickoff at Northgate Mall on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dozens of performers and activities will be on tap, including Scrap Exchange, Paint Savvy, North Carolina Zoo, Museum of Natural Sciences, Durham Arts Council and other organizations.
Northgate Mall is at 1058 W. Club Blvd. The kickoff will take place both indoors and on the outdoor plaza between entrances 2 and 4. The event is free and open to the public.
William D. Cohan’s “The Price of Silence” is the fifth book about the Duke lacrosse case. Why another? Cohan, a Duke graduate who has written books about Wall Street, claims to have unearthed new viewpoints, but critics can’t find any.
What is the price of silence that William Cohan writes about in this new book on the Duke lacrosse scandal of March 2006?
Music fans probably know Jamie Anderson from her concerts at The ArtsCenter and other local venues. Born in Arizona, Anderson moved to Durham, where she lived for 11 years before moving to Canada. She has released CDs and numerous songs (“When Cats Take Over the World,” “Menstrual Tango”) and collected more than a few stories during her travels to folk clubs and festivals.
She has put some of those stories on paper in “Drive All Night” (Bella Books, $16.95), available locally at Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill and The Regulator Bookshop in Durham.
Durham-based playwright Monica Byrne’s debut novel “The Girl in the Road” is an engrossing, thought-provoking work of science fiction and speculative fiction, one rich in symbolism.
Byrne creates a future world that is believable yet at times magical, even hallucinatory. Set in the mid-21st century, Byrne’s world is a place where many contemporary ills have been solved. Sexually transmitted diseases have been eliminated because of advances in vaccines and antibiotics, and contraceptives have been perfected. The world has developed a stronger, seemingly more universal tolerance of lesbians, gays and transgendered people, and, judging from the fact that two women narrate this story, the rights of women also has advanced.
Last year, Sesame Street launched an initiative called “Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration.” Using familiar characters and a new character who has a parent in jail, Sesame Street created a multimedia toolkit for children, parents and caregivers. It started with 10 pilot states, but North Carolina wasn’t on the list.
Melissa Radcliff, executive director of Our Children’s Place, a statewide private nonprofit she runs from her home office in Durham, took that as a challenge. She contacted Sesame Street, who sent her the materials so that one toolkit could be available in every library branch in the state. Our Children’s Place took the materials – about 400 kits, one for every branch – to the State Library of North Carolina, which distributed them this spring. Workshops and webinars about the materials were offered to libraries, and Durham and Orange County libraries participated.
Henry Petroski, a professor of civil engineering at Duke, and his wife Catherine Petroski, a photographer and writer, have written the story of how they found, and later explored, their summer home on the Kennebec River in Maine, “The House with Sixteen Handmade Doors: A Tale of Architectural Choice and Craftsmanship” (W.W. Norton, $27.95).
In his many previous books (“The Toothpick: Technology and Culture,” “The Evolution of Useful Things”), Henry Petroski has taken the hard science of engineering and explained it in a way that is not too intimidating for laymen (read: English majors). With maps and many fine photographs from his wife, Petroski “takes apart” (not literally) the history and design of a house that is some 60 years old. “The house may be modest,” Petroski writes, “but it is also a model of thoughtful design and careful craftsmanship.”
Pittsboro author Laura Herbst has won two prizes from the North Carolina Writers Network. Herbst has won the 2014 Doris Betts Fiction Prize for her short story “The Cliffs of Mobenga.” The piece will be published in the 2015 edition of the North Carolina Literary Review. Herbst also won the Rose Post Creative Nonfiction Competition for an essay on breast cancer.
The first story in Katey Schultz’s new collection “Flashes of War” (Apprentice House, $16.95), is titled “While the Rest of America’s at the Mall.” In her afterword, Schultz traces the source of the title to a quote from a soldier that reporter Ben Anderson interviewed: “America’s not at war. America’s at the mall,” the soldier said.
Schultz immersed herself in reports and information, trying to understand the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Rather than trying to tell the story through journalism, she chose fiction. “As someone inclined to make sense of the world through story, I knew my window into these wars would have to be narrative,” Schultz writes.
If you have ever imagined yourself walking the streets of Paris between the world wars, if you devour the drama and history of France under the German occupation, if you are enamored of the romance of the French Resistance, if you have ever pretended to appreciate the novels of Henry Miller (you like the descriptions of Paris, not the sexy parts), then you will be captivated from the first page of Francine Prose’s novel “Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932.”
“Without words, we’re history’s orphans. Our lives and thoughts erased,” writes Anana Johnson, the narrator of Alena Graedon’s debut novel “The Word Exchange” (Doubleday, $26.95).
In “The Word Exchange,” Anana’s father Doug Samuel Johnson disappears while editing the final edition of the “North American Dictionary of the English Language.” In Graedon’s world, the much-discussed death of print has finally happened. Anana’s father and a small group of compatriots have vehemently opposed the move away from print to devices. Anana, who works for her father as an editor and assistant, goes on a search to find her father.