“Jefferson: Architect of American Liberty,” by John Boles

Reviewed by Daniel James Sundahl Dumas Malone’s six volume biography of Thomas Jefferson is nearing the half-century mark since publication.  Joseph Ellis’s biography appeared in 1996, followed by other biographies, some of which own a “tabloid” quality. Annette Gordon-Reed’s The Hemingses of Monticello, however, is an insightful consideration of a story largely expunged from history […]

October Read of the Month: “Of Bees and Boys,” by Allen Mendenhall

Reviewed by Yasser El-Sayed Much has already been written about Allen Mendenhall’s new book, Of Bees & Boys: Lines from a Southern Lawyer. The celebrated author William Bernhardt, who penned the forward to the collection of essays, states that “Mendenhall is an artist and writer of the first caliber . . . Time and again […]

“Cherry Bomb,” by Susan Cushman

Reviewed by Niles Reddick Cherry Bomb is Susan Cushman’s first novel, but it doesn’t read like a debut novel. It reads like the work of a master. Cushman is no novice. Her previous books include an excellent and thoughtful work of non-fiction, Tangles and Plaques: A Mother and Daughter Face Alzheimer’s, and the edition A Second […]

“Lisbeth,” by Marina Brown

Reviewed by Claire Matturro As with her stunning debut novel, Land Without Mirrors, Marina Brown has, with her newest book, Lisbeth, plumbed the emotional truths of diverse and conflicting characters as they struggle through chaos, peril, and change. Lisbeth is a big, bold, intense, and intensely complex Southern Gothic, with lyrical writing, lushly described settings, […]

“The Timekeeper’s Son,” by Sara Baker

Reviewed by Molly Hurley Moran Set in the fictional Southern town of Milledge, Georgia, Sara Baker’s luminous novel The Timekeeper’s Son moves beyond the issues and conflicts usually associated with such settings to embrace more universal themes concerning human connection, forgiveness, and grace.  The plot revolves around two families who are unknown to each other […]

“Understanding Larry McMurtry,” by Steven Frye

Reviewed by Johnnie Bernhard Steven Frye’s Understanding Larry McMurtry is a scholarly overview of the Pulitzer-Prize winning author’s body of work. It’s part of the Understanding Contemporary American Literature series published by the University of South Carolina Press. Founded by the late Professor Matthew J. Bruccoli, this series explores modern American writers. Bruccoli is quoted in […]

September Read of the Month: “The Headmaster’s Darlings,” by Katherine Clark

Reviewed by Ashley D. Black Most people who are raised in a small, Southern town would agree that preserving local traditions is of the utmost importance to its residents. At times, however, maintaining a town’s customs can prevent the populace from evolving with the rest of the country both politically and culturally. Those who challenge […]

“Riding on Comets,” by Cat Pleska

Reviewed by Donna Meredith Though her family was hardly perfect, Cat Pleska leaves readers feeling uplifted rather than grungy from being dragged through the dirty laundry in her memoir, Riding on Comets. In part, the warm tone results because she never doubted that her parents wanted the best for her. Without words, they implied that she […]