February Read of the Month: “Kiss of the Jewel Bird,” by Dale Cramer

Reviewed by Daniel James Sundahl All things being equal: Possessed by spiritual dissatisfaction, or a hunger for knowledge or mastery, Faust makes a pact with the devil. It’s an old legend, of course, with tales told as early as the 1500s, and the stuff of drama, Marlowe and Goethe, and then Thomas Mann. The Faustian […]

“Rise and Shine,” by Johnathan Scott Barrett

  Reviewed by Daniel James Sundahl Our late friend Bill Borland was from Eudora, Arkansas; he loved to cook gumbos and such and hush puppies. Once, before we were on our way to his home for dinner, my wife asked me what a hush puppy was and I said cornmeal, wheat flour, eggs, salt, baking […]

“South of the Etowah,” by Raymond L. Atkins

Reviewed by Daniel James Sundahl The “Etowah” in the title to Raymond L. Atkins’s recently published book refers to a 164-mile-long waterway rising in northwest Georgia to begin flowing south and then west through Rome, Georgia. If one had the interest, one might build a raft and, Huckleberry-like, float along through Alabama down to Mobile […]

“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 […]

“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 […]

“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 […]

“Burdy,” by Karen Spears Zacharias

Reviewed by Claire Hamner Matturro “Burdy didn’t set out that morning aiming to get shot by the end of the day.” So begins Burdy (Mercer University Press, 2015), a sequel to Karen Spears Zacharias’s best-seller Mother of Rain (Mercer University Press, 2013). The title character does get shot in one of those increasingly common random […]

“The Poisoned Table,” by Diane Michael Cantor

Reviewed by Donna Meredith “I was a slave,” a renowned white actress confesses in Diane Michael Cantor’s captivating historical novel, The Poisoned Table (Mercer University Press, 2015). Private lives are far from what others imagine them to be in this story based on the life of nineteenth-century British actress and writer Fanny Kemble. Events take […]