D.G. Martin

Novel Follows An Athlete’s Rest-Of-Life

What happens to a promising young athlete’s career when it comes to an end earlier than expected or hoped? In major college athletics – football, basketball, and possibly baseball – almost every player hopes for a chance to play in the pros. Most won’t get it. Will the educational experience given in exchange for the play prepare these athletes as well or better for a life of work and service than the other alternatives available to them? Wiley Cash’s new novel gives a painful look at one case involving the life of a promising athlete who tried an alternate...

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A Richly Complex Response To A Simple Call

“Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.” These words from Isaiah 6:8 inspired the daughter of a pre-Civil-War Southern slaveholder to travel to Africa as the wife of a Baptist missionary to bring the Word of the Lord to the Yoruba people in what is now Nigeria. Those real facts are the basis of North Carolina State University Professor Elaine Neil Orr’s fictional account, A Different Sun: A Novel of Africa. Putting aside the irony of Americans from a region where millions of Africans were enslaved taking a...

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Adventure And History On A Trip Down The Cape Fear

What could you learn from a trip down the Cape Fear River? Starting, say, at a few miles below Jordan Lake where Haw River joins Deep River to form the Cape Fear, canoeing downstream and passing by Raven Rock State Park before reaching the bridge at Lillington, getting through three sets of dams and locks, all the way to Fayetteville. Then, with the rapids behind you, switching to a powerboat to follow the river as it passes by Elizabethtown, on the way to Wilmington and into the ocean beyond Bald Head Island. What would you learn on such a...

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Remembering Franklin McCain

When Franklin McCain died last week, I remembered how often his acts and his words inspired me. McCain was one of the four North Carolina A&T State University students who first sat down in 1960 at the Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro and quietly asked to be served, sparking a wave of sit-ins across the country. I remembered his talk in 1998 at an event marking the 38th anniversary of those sit-ins. I expected a fiery oration, one that was totally critical of our country’s record on civil rights. But what I heard, at the beginning, was more like...

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Ninety Is The New Sixty

Famed Chapel Hill author Elizabeth Spencer has proved a North Carolina rule again. “Ninety is the new 60.” Or 50. Spencer, like academic leader William Friday and historian John Hope Franklin a few years earlier, shows that the nineties can be incredibly productive years. The evidence in Spencer’s case is her latest book of short fiction, Starting Over, which was released on January 1st. Spencer is 92. Six of the book’s nine stories were written by her in the last three years, proving that her talents and work ethic are still strong. Spencer is best known, perhaps, for her...

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Two Important Political Leaders Not To Forget

When politics is the topic, there is always more to talk about. So it is with the book on North Carolina politics that was the subject of a recent column. I keep going back to East Carolina University Professor Tom Eamon’s The Making of a Southern Democracy: North Carolina Politics from Kerr Scott to Pat McCrory. Why does the book keep drawing me back to it? One reason is its positive attention to political figures whose contributions have sometimes been underrated. For instance, Dan K. Moore, whose service as governor from 1965 through 1969 is, according to Eamon, often...

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How We Got Where We Are At In North Carolina Politics

Just in time for the new year, a new book puts modern North Carolina politics in perspective. The Making of a Southern Democracy: North Carolina Politics from Kerr Scott to Pat McCrory, by East Carolina University Professor Tom Eamon, covers North Carolina and its politics from 1948 through last year’s election. These 65-plus years have been transformative for our state in many ways: socially, economically, educationally, and politically. It is the politics that Eamon seeks to explain. But the social and economic changes drove many of the political changes. So did national political changes. By bringing all these factors...

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New Books For Holiday Giving And Viewing

Are you missing the right gifts for some important people on your shopping list? There is help from some of the best and most popular North Carolina-connected storytellers, whose new books might be lifesavers for you. And your gift recipient can watch the author talk about the book in the next few weeks on UNC-TV’s North Carolina Bookwatch Sundays at noon and Thursdays at 5 p.m. Viewers with access to UNC-TV’s digital channel UNC-MX can preview the program on the preceding Friday at 9 p.m. Here are a few suggestions: Some are saying that Lee Smith’s new novel, Guests...

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A Better Way in Germany

Should we look to Germany for a better way to organize our government? Our parents and grandparents from the “Greatest Generation” would be shocked at the idea that the country they fought so hard to defeat would have the kind of representative and effective government that any American would want to copy. But let’s look at what has happened in the aftermath of the recent national elections in both countries. In our country, the two major political parties battled it out, electing a president from the Democratic Party and a divided legislative body. While the Electoral College results gave Democrat Barak Obama a decisive (332-206) victory, the reported popular vote was much closer: 65,915,796 to 60,933,500, or 51.1 percent to 47.2 percent. The House of Representatives’ total popular vote, although much closer, also favored the Democrats by 59,967,096 votes to 58,523,501 votes for Republican candidates, or 48.9 percent to 47.7 percent. Nevertheless, the Republicans won a decisive victory in the number of seats, 234 to 201 for Democrats. The closeness of the U.S. popular vote last year showed Americans sharply divided on which political party they would choose to lead their government. But it would be hard to argue that they intended to favor the confrontational governmental logjam that resulted from their vote. Americans are rightfully proud of the complicated system of checks and balances the drafters of our...

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Where is Waldo? Where is Wolfe?

Do people in North Carolina remember Thomas Wolfe, their once famous son, author of Look Homeward, Angel, whose books helped many of us get through the transformation from childhood to adulthood and opened the door to an appreciation of fine writing? Do his words still inspire new writers to open their mental guts and spill out their words and stories? For answers to those questions, I decided to play a “Where’s Waldo?” type game and look for Wolfe in recent North Carolina-related books to see if I could find any evidence of his continuing influence. In What I Came...

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