“This Republic of Suffering,” by Drew Gilpin Faust

Reviewed by Daniel James Sundahl The “Preface” to Drew Gilpin Faust’s This Republic of Suffering begins with a pointed sentence:  “Mortality defines the human condition.”  True in any and all circumstances, including driving to work in the morning or returning home in the evening. Driving our cars, however, is unlike Confederate and Union soldiers gathered […]

“Conjuror,” by Holly Sullivan McClure

Reviewed by Daniel James Sundahl Anyone driving east on Interstate 40 and crossing from Tennessee into western North Carolina will cross over U.S. Route 19 running roughly northeast-by-southwest.  Near the intersection of Route 19 and U. S. Route 441 is the Oconaluftee River Valley and the Qualla Boundary land trust. The area has an interesting […]

“Miss Julia Inherits a Mess,” by Ann B. Ross

Reviewed by Daniel James Sundahl About a decade ago a television series began its run: Gossip Girl.  It was a teen drama based on a novel series by Cecily von Ziegesar.  Fictional lives, then, of a batch of adolescents, queen bees in their gossipy chess games.  It takes little imagination to add, say, fifty gossipy […]

“The Time the Waters Rose,” by Paul Ruffin

Reviewed by Daniel James Sundahl The Time the Waters Rose is a collection of eight short stories by the late Paul Ruffin.  One of the eight is less a short story and more an excerpt from his 2002 novel, Pompeii Man. The collection opens with a “Preface,” part biography and part apology or defense.  Ruffin […]

“Wondering Toward Center,” by Kathy A. Bradley

Reviewed by Daniel James Sundahl Back in 1851 Henry Thoreau arrived at the Concord Lyceum to deliver a lecture, one he would repeat ten or more times.  He thought of the piece as seminal to everything he might write afterwards.  He revised it throughout the next nine or so years, publishing the piece eventually as […]

“All the Governor’s Men,” by Katherine Clark

Reviewed by Daniel James Sundahl I title this review “The Overly-Stuffed Novel,” a designation that calls attention to Willa Cather’s credo stated with some punchy forcefulness in her essay “The Novel Demeuble.”  The point is simple enough: Aesthetically, the novel does not merely catalog the furniture of life, physical things, processes, sensations, thoughts.  She analogizes […]

“The Stone Necklace,” by Carla Damron

Reviewed by Daniel James Sundahl In my years as a college professor at a small, private liberal arts college, administration, faculty, and staff were in loco parentis; it was understood that the professor took on some of the functions and responsibilities of a parent. It’s a curious status, however, with interesting premises both psychological and […]

“Where the Souls Go,” by Ann Hite

Reviewed by Daniel James Sundahl Ann Hite’s Where the Souls Go is subtitled “A Black Mountain Novel.”  It’s the third in her series of novels rooted in this complicated, mystical, wispy place. For the geographically challenged, North Carolina’s Black Mountain is part of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains region, old mountains steeped in mystery […]