“The Splendor of Ordinary Days,” by Jeff High

Reviewed by Donna Meredith With the third novel in the Watervalley series, Jeff High’s talent has matured as he captures the rich tapestry of small-town life – as few contemporary authors have – in The Splendor of Ordinary Days. The author plumbs the depths of the most important bonds of our lives in this heart-warming […]

“Understanding Richard Russo,” by Kathleen Drowne

Reviewed by Donna Meredith Richard Russo is a beloved novelist known primarily for his stories of life in declining northeastern factory towns, so a reasonable person might question why his work deserves space in a literary review purporting to be southern. In short, the University of South Carolina Press recently released Understanding Richard Russo, a […]

“Bull Mountain,” by Brian Panowich

Reviewed by Donna Meredith The ancient story of brother pitted against brother gets a fresh take in Brian Panowich’s debut novel, Bull Mountain, by combining family saga, mystery, and crime with the best elements of literary fiction. The story’s easy yet elegant style, nuanced characters, and gripping plot will earn it many fans. Panowich’s dark, […]

New Fiction on Black Middle-Class Families and Universal Themes

Review essay by Donna Meredith African American fiction writers have, for the most part, overlooked middle-class families as subjects until recently. Stacy Campbell, Lamarr White, and Barbara Joe Williams are among the new authors producing strong novels with middle-class characters and universal appeal. Their protagonists, all educated professionals, struggle with issues like mental illness, infidelity, […]

“Fate Moreland’s Widow,” by John Lane, and “Seam Busters,” by Mary Hood

Reviewed by Donna Meredith We all—well, all of us except Lady Godiva, nudists, and that one infamous Emperor of fairytale fame—wear clothes. Yet most of us give little thought to the mill workers who create the fabrics or the seamstresses who sew them. Two recent fiction releases from the University of South Carolina Press explore […]

June Read of the Month: “Song of the Vagabond Bird,” by Terry Kay

Reviewed by Donna Meredith Novels about male bonding are fairly unusual—unless the band of brothers emerges from war. Armed conflict plays no part in Terry Kay’s latest novel, though the major characters are all wounded. Not by guns or I.E.D.’s. By women. Lost love. Crushing guilt. Georgia Hall of Fame writer Terry Kay has written […]

“The Lion of Babylon,” by Michael Whitehead

Reviewed by Donna Meredith Combining touches of magical realism with the stark reality of life in a war zone, Michael Whitehead delivers a memorable literary novel with The Lion of Babylon. Thousands of years of religious and cultural conflict provide the backdrop for this parable set in the city of Al Hilla, one hundred kilometers […]

May Read of the Month: “Study of Scarletts,” by Margaret Donovan Bauer

Reviewed by Donna Meredith Think you know everything there is to know about Scarlett O’Hara? Not so fast! Margaret Donovan Bauer’s newest book will likely have you reexamining the true nature of this American icon. Bauer’s intelligent analysis of five novels with strong female characters in A Study of Scarletts: Scarlett O’Hara and Her Literary […]