Three recent books with North Carolina connections have gained national recognition. You should certainly know about them.
Tim Gautreaux is widely admired in our state’s literary community. For instance, popular Hillsborough author Lee Smith, writing about Gautreaux’s latest book, “The Missing,” said, “I have just finished, biting my nails and staying up almost all night to do so—-surely the best rip-roaring old fashioned truly American page-turner ever written! No way to say how much I admire that book. Got your attention?”
“The Missing,” like Smith’s “The Last Girls,” is set on a riverboat that travels along the Mississippi River.
But it is not the same kind of book.
Smith’s characters are contemporary middle-aged women on a luxury tourist ship remembering their college river rafting venture down the river.
Gautreaux’s tale, set in post World War I times, is dark and violent, featuring a kidnapped child and outlaw families living on swampy, nearly deserted lands near the river.
Gautreaux grew up in Louisiana’s Cajun country and has spent most of his life writing about his home state and teaching there.
So what is his North Carolina connection? His wife grew up in Raeford, and since Hurricane Katrina they have divided their time between Louisiana and a home in Ashe County. Gautreaux will be the guest on UNC-TV’s North Carolina Bookwatch on Sunday at noon (February 3) and Thursday (February 7) at 5 p.m.
Three North Carolina-connected books made the New York Times “100 Notable Books-2012” list. The only non-fiction sports-related book on the list is “American Triumvirate Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, and the Modern Age of Golf.” Its author, James Dodson, is the editor of “O. Henry” and PineStraw” magazines and is an award-winning writer-in-residence at The Pilot in Southern Pines.
Snead, Nelson, and Hogan dominated professional golf in the years surrounding World War II. Ironically, all were born in 1912, and their stories, as told by Dodson, are intertwined and poignant.
Dodson says these three are responsible for the popular professional golf game that we know today. (February 10, 14)
One of North Carolina’s most successful and admired business leaders grew up in unbelievably oppressive circumstances in China during the Cultural Revolution. Starved, beaten, denied basic education, she survived and has prevailed. She tells this story of her challenging pathway to success in this country in her new book, “Bend, Not Break: A Life in Two Worlds.”
The book’s title comes from advice from Ping Fu’s “Shanghai Papa,” who told her, “Bamboo is flexible, bending with the wind but never breaking, capable of adapting to any circumstance. It suggests resilience, meaning that we have the ability to bounce back even from the most difficult times. . . . Your ability to thrive depends, in the end, on your attitude to your life circumstances. Take everything in stride with grace, putting forth energy when it is needed, yet always staying calm inwardly.”
Ping Fu is the founder and CEO of Morrisville-based Geomagic. It develops 3D software that makes possible the exact duplication of 3D objects using small machines called 3D printers. In 2005, Inc. Magazine named her Entrepreneur of the Year. A few weeks ago, Geomagic was acquired by one of its customers.
As “Bend, Not Break” moves on to the national bestseller lists, it will inspire readers and draw scrutiny from some skeptics who may find Ping Fu’s journey too amazing to be real. (February 17, 21)
Finally, are you wondering what other North Carolina connected books made the New York Times Notable Books list? They are Ben Fountain’s “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” set in Texas Stadium in Dallas, with a halftime performance by Beyonce, just in time for Super Bowl reading, and Wiley Cash’s “A Land More Kind than Home,” set in Madison County.
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 the webpage.
A grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council provides crucial support for North Carolina Bookwatch.
Bookwatch Classics (programs from earlier years) airs Wednesdays at 11:30 a.m. on UNC-MX, a digital cable system channel (Time Warner #172 or #4.4). This week’s (February 6) guest is David Cecelski author of “The Waterman’s Song.”http://chapelboro.com/columns/one-on-one/the-whole-nation-looks-at-3-north-carolina-connected-authors
Just in time for holiday giving, here are some good ideas about a variety of North Carolina related books, one or two of which might be perfect for a last minute gift.
But first a bit of news about UNC-TV’s North Carolina Bookwatch’s broadcast schedule. Beginning in January, the program will air on Sundays at 12 noon, with a repeat on the following Thursday at 5 p.m.
Now, back to possible gifts, here is an idea for any beer lover on your list, “North Carolina Craft Beer & Breweries” by Hillsborough craft brewer, Erik Lars Myers. “Once upon a time,” says Myers, “I would have said brewing beer was my hobby. Now, it’s my life.”
In his new book he shares his bountiful knowledge about the history of the craft beer business in North Carolina and where you can go to get the freshest and best local brews at small breweries all across the state. He will share more of that knowledge on North Carolina Bookwatch this weekend. (Friday, December 21, at 9:30 p.m., and Sunday December 23, at 5 p.m.)
For a North Carolinian who is interested in World War II, here is a perfect suggestion: “War Zone—World War II off the North Carolina Coast.” Author Kevin Duffus reviews the first seven months of the war when German U-boats destroyed U.S. ships off the North Carolina coast at will. He also tells some of the human interest stories that accompanied military action in the North Carolina zone of that war. (Dec. 28, 30)
A book that will be important to people who like to read about the Civil War and those interested in the struggle for Civil Rights is David Cecelski’s “The Fire of Freedom: Abraham Galloway and the Slaves’ Civil War.” Galloway was an escaped slave from Wilmington, who became a James Bond-like agent for the Union Army. After the war, he turned his charisma and savvy to politics and ran circles around his white fellow legislators. Cecelski’s great storytelling gifts make this biography better reading than much of today’s historic fiction. (Note: This weekend the schedule will change. North Carolina Bookwatch will air on Sunday, January 6, at 12 noon, and Thursday, January 10, at 5 p.m.)
Cecelski’s friend, Bland Simpson, has a new book that covers the Civil War era from two different perspectives. The first is that of a talented waterman and captain, but one who was enslaved and badly treated. The second perspective is that of a naval officer who had his own set of challenges as he served first the United States and then the Confederacy. It is hard to see how anyone could bring these points of view together in the same book, but Simpson, has done it in “Two Captains from Carolina: Moses Grandy, John Newland Maffitt, and the Coming of the Civil War.” (Sunday, January 13, and Thursday, January 17)
In Emily Colin’s debut novel, “The Memory Thief,” a young woman begs her mountain-climbing husband not to take on Mount McKinley in Alaska. He goes anyway, promising, “I will come back to you.” But, as she feared, he falls to his death. Still, that promise to return is haunting. Learning how it is fulfilled is the backbone of the novel. (January 20, 24)
Finally, an idea for children and young teens if you are wondering what they are reading now that the Harry Potter series has come to an end. Sheila Turnage faces this challenge in “Three Times Lucky” by introducing us to the crime-solving talents of two pre-teens from Tupelo Landing, North Carolina. Mo LoBeau is sassy, charming, and smart. She and her best friend, Dale Earnhardt Johnson III, lead Turnage’s readers through a most entertaining murder investigation. (January 27, 31)
D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch,” which airs Fridays at 9:30 p.m. and Sundays at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV until the end of December. For more information or to view prior programs, visit the webpage at www.unctv.org/ncbookwatch/ A grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council provides crucial support for North Carolina Bookwatch.http://chapelboro.com/columns/one-on-one/north-carolina-books-for-last-minute-gifts
Summer has suddenly come to an end. And I bet there is a stack of books by your bed or somewhere in your house, ones you meant to read this summer.
Here comes another batch of new North Carolina books, some of which belong at the top of your pile and others you ought to know about, even though they might not end up in your reading pile.
Charlotte poet Judy Goldman’s two novels, “Early Leaving” and “The Slow Way Back,” explored the complicated, beautiful, and painful relationships that come with being part of a family. Now she turns her poet’s and storyteller’s talents to a memoir, “Losing My Sister.” It tells the story of her family and her complicated and sometimes hurtful relationship with her sister. Their anger at each other runs side by side with their love. It is a poignant relationship that will resonate with everyone who has a sibling. (Oct. 5, 7)
Ten years ago, David Cecelski’s great book, “The Waterman’s Song,” introduced me to Abraham Galloway, an ex-slave from Wilmington who became an incredible leader of blacks in North Carolina during the Civil War and later in state government. I became fascinated with Galloway and wrote then, “He is my candidate for North Carolina’s greatest civil rights hero. He packed into his short life a story of an escape from slavery, intrigue and dedication, leadership and audacity, and political achievement that is as inspiring as the tales of Robin Hood, King David, and Rob Roy MacGregor.” I waited a long time for Cecelski to tell me more. Now he has done it with his new book, “The Fire of Freedom: Abraham Galloway and the Slaves’ Civil War.” (Oct. 12, 14)
Longtime Charlotte lawyer Jon Buchan represents newspapers and once was a reporter for The Charlotte Observer. Now he is a novelist. His powerful first book, “Code of the Forest,” is about inside politics in both Carolinas. Political and business leaders look out for each other based on loyalties formed in exclusive prep schools and at hunting lodges deep in the forest. Buchan also takes his readers through the terrible and challenging mess a libel action lawsuit can be. (Oct. 19, 21)
Novelist Lee Smith says that this book is “deeply moving, disturbing, haunting, and important.” She is talking about “Leaving Tuscaloosa,” the debut novel of Walter Bennett, a former lawyer and judge. He is also known as the husband of N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences retiring director, Betsy Bennett. Walter Bennett’s “Leaving Tuscaloosa” is set in the 1960s and features two Tuscaloosa, Alabama, teenagers, one white, Richeboux Branscomb, the other black, Acee Waites, who, although they are the same age and live in the same town, hardly ever cross paths, until their parallel lives explode tragically and memorably. (Oct. 26, 28)
One of the greatest horrors of slavery was the breakup of families. A husband sold away from his wife, a mother from her child. UNC-Chapel Hill Professor Heather Andrea Williams tells another chapter in that story. Her new book, “Help Me to Find My People: The African American Search for Family Lost in Slavery” relates how separated families attempted to find each other and reunite, before and after the Civil War. (Nov. 2, 4)http://chapelboro.com/columns/one-on-one/all-kinds-of-new-north-carolina-books