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By D.G. Martin D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch,” which airs Sundays at noon and Thursdays at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV. For more information or to view prior programs visit unctv.org/ncbookwatch.

Seven new books every North Carolinian should know about

By D.G. Martin Posted June 26, 2012 at 6:12 pm

There is no way to read them all.

No, and we cannot even know about all of the more than 1,000 books about our state or by authors with North Carolina connections.

But every year there are a few books that, for one reason or another, are so important or interesting that we should know at least something about them.

Here are seven.

People wondered whether Ron Rash would ever be able to top his recent bestseller “Serena,” which is being made into a movie staring Jennifer Lawrence. His new novel, “The Cove,” is, like “Serena,” a battle between good and evil. In Madison County along the Tennessee border during the First World War, we follow the tragic life of Laurel Shelton, who is shunned as a witch whenever she leaves her isolated cove. A strange man comes to care about her and gives to her for a brief, poignant moment the possibility of a happy life. “The Cove” is Rash at his best.

Rash kicks off the new season of UNC-TV’s North Carolina Bookwatch on Friday, July 6, at 9:30 p.m. and Sunday, July 8, at 5 p.m.

Bestselling author Margaret Maron usually sets her popular Deborah Knott mystery novels in fictional Colleton County, east of Raleigh, where Knott grew up and now holds court.  But in “Three Day Town,” Judge Knott and her new husband travel to New York City for a winter holiday, and of course, a murder. Big news for Maron’s fans: She reintroduces Sigrid Harald, a New York detective who was the lead character in an earlier series of mystery novels. In her next book, Maron will bring Sigrid down to Johnston (I mean Colleton!) County to help Judge Knott solve another North Carolina crime. (July 13, 15)

North Carolina native Ben Fountain won many writing awards and critical praise for his writing, especially for his book of short stories, “Brief Encounters with Che Guevara.” But until this year he had never published a novel. His debut, “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” has already been called the next great American novel and the first great novel of America’s 21st century wars. (July 20, 22)

Ann B. Ross always presents her modern, middle-aged, mountain heroine with a variety of interesting challenges. In Ross’s latest novel, “Miss Julia to the Rescue,” Miss Julia has to confront some wild religious practices, including church services with snake handling and a new “Church of Body Modification,” where adherents show commitment by tattoos and attachment of heavy metal objects to their bodies. (July 27, 29)

Gastonia native Wiley Cash exploded on to the national literary scene this spring with his debut novel, “A Land More Kind than Home.” Readers meet a storefront, snake-handling preacher who turns out to be one of the most complicated and interesting villains I have ever encountered in fiction. (August 3,5)

Another powerful debut is “Goliath” by Susan Woodring. She lives in Drexel, home to a closed Drexel Heritage Furniture plant. Her novel is set in a similar but fictional place, where quirky, but very realistic, characters try to cope with the demise of their town. (August 10,12)

Another powerful debut is nonfiction. When a rock crushing operation threatens to eat up a nearby beautiful mountain, the author’s neighbors draft him to lead the opposition. Jay Leutze tells the long and complicated story of how the opposition fought and what finally happens in his new book, “Stand Up That Mountain.”  What could have been a dry “after action report” is a human-interest thriller, thanks to Leutze’s literary skills and instincts and his careful and respectful attention to the characters in the drama he recreates and organizes. (August 17, 19)

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