Books I Love

Cold Feet by Karen Pullen

Karen Pullen’s debut detective mystery stars Stella Lavender, a feisty young detective with man problems and the ability to go undercover in a hoodie camouflaged as a teenage drug dealer. Deftly written and hard-hitting, this mystery raises questions about how we see couples, marriages, and love, and how what we see on the surface of a beautiful bride may not be the whole story. When a bride is murdered at her own wedding, Stella, one of the invitees, gets tapped to follow up, and it’s a winding trail indeed. She fits in her homicide work around her undercover drug agent job, and her work life is populated with an ex who dumped her and a boss who disses her, creating plenty of sympathy for her personal predicaments. Stella is no dupe, though, she’s a star just waiting to be born, and this debut novel’s twists and turns are worthy of her detective’s mind. We’re cheering for Stella all along, and by the end, somehow wiser about love and marriage. Pullen is a writer to watch. She’s not just playing detective. She’s laying open the secrets of the human heart, just what the best writers do.

 

 

 

February 10,2013

February 10, 2013
By Walter Bennett
A ‘Must Read” 50 Years after the Civil Rights Movement Started in the South 
Walter Bennett’s “Leaving Tuscaloosa” brings a new voice to the Southern literary field, one that resonates with the deeply human stories of white segregationists, black Civil Rights advocates, and ordinary small town people in the deep South in the sixties. Every character is fully human, and when a frustrated high school boy sets things off with some late night hit-and-run pitching practice, aimed at the head of the town’s most powerful black preacher, every voice in town gets a chance to tell his or her side of things, resulting in a wide-open window into the beating heart of a time and place few from outside that time and place have been able to fully comprehend. Bennett’s narrative strategy, by including so many compelling voices, is compassionate and beautifully written. But it is Acee and his white boyhood friend Bo who will break your heart and leave you thinking about what was lost and gained during that era. A wonderful book for generating open and lively discussion, 50 years after a voice rose up from the deep South and said, “I have a dream today.”

January 29, 2013

Karen Pullen’s Cold Feet

Karen Pullen’s debut detective mystery stars Stella Lavender, a feisty young detective with man problems and the ability to go undercover in a hoodie camouflaged as a teenage drug dealer. Deftly written and hard-hitting, this mystery raises questions about how we see couples, marriages, and love, and how what we see on the surface of a beautiful bride may not be the whole story. When a bride is murdered at her own wedding, Stella, one of the invitees, gets tapped to follow up, and it’s a winding trail indeed. She fits in her homicide work around her undercover drug agent job, and her work life is populated with an ex who dumped her and a boss who disses her, creating plenty of sympathy for her personal predicaments. Stella is no dupe, though, she’s a star just waiting to be born, and this debut novel’s twists and turns are worthy of her detective’s mind. We’re cheering for Stella all along, and by the end, somehow wiser about love and marriage. Pullen is a writer to watch. She’s not just playing detective. She’s laying open the secrets of the human heart, just what the best writers do.
June 27, 2011

Just read “Jonas” from Chatham County writer Belle Boggs’ short story collection, Mattapunai Queen. What a funny, generous, emotionally accurate writer! Looking forward to meeting her today. If you don’t think it’s possible to write a happy-ending story that includes a sex change operation, a marriage, and a cheerleading queen in the South, read her story at http://www.fivechapters.com/2010/jonas/

Looking forward to more! Just requested the book for purchase for the Chatham Community Library.

This page is dedicated to comments on books I am reading. Right now I’m working my way through the current/recent Press 53 Fiction titles. Did you know that Press 53 authors won Independent Press awards in 2 categories last year? Best Fiction (Mary Akers) and Best Regional Fiction (Clifford Garstang). I am proud to be associated with them, and even prouder when I read what they have wrought. More to come!

Some thoughts about In an Uncharted Country, by Clifford Garstang:

Clifford Garstang’s stories are masters of the fresh phrase, the accurate depiction of small town and rural life in the Shenandoah Valley–or any small town place surrounded by dead-end unpaved roads that lead to trailers and shacks. As someone who has visited those hills and valleys annually to visit family for 50 years, I recognize the small town that is central to these stories. Garstang has the gift of sharp observation of the human spirit and body and all its ways–dumb, drunk, young, wise, heartsick, brave, hopeful. Although each story has its own distinctive insights, my favorites of the bunch are two: “William & Frederick,” the story of a young survivor of a small town gay relationship, trying to make a go of it as an antiques dealer, the narration invoking and busting stereotypes right and left like so many cracked Ming vases as it travels through grief and desperation to a hopeful conclusion. Then there’s the final story: “Red Peony,” where Garstang has miraculously arranged for just about all of his diverse cast of characters to come together and celebrate Fourth of July, as if they were some large, damaged, deeply American family–which, of course, they are, as any community is. Bravo. And more, please!

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