Subscribe: Don Noble Reviews...
Added By: Feedage Forager Feedage Grade B rated
Language: English
alabama  author  book  books  pages price  pages  press pages  press  price hardcover  price  publisher  writing  “the   
Rate this Feed
Rate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feed
Rate this feed 1 starRate this feed 2 starRate this feed 3 starRate this feed 4 starRate this feed 5 star

Comments (0)

Feed Details and Statistics Feed Statistics
Preview: Don Noble Reviews...

Don Noble's Book Reviews

Recently retired as English professor at The University of Alabama, Dr. Noble's specialties are Southern and American literature. He also hosts Bookmark on Alabama Public Television. Don Noble's reviews can be heard most Mondays at 7:45am and 4:44pm. and

Last Build Date: Fri, 23 Mar 2018 02:10:55 +0000


Fox is Framed

Mon, 23 Mar 2015 13:00:00 +0000

Title: Fox is Framed Author: Lachlan Smith Publisher: Grove Atlantic, The Mysterious Press, 2015 Pages: 244 Price: $24.00 (Hardcover) “Fox is Framed” is the third of Smith’s Leo Maxwell mysteries, and a kind of sequel. It is not necessary to have read “Bear Is Broken,” winner of the Shamus Award for first P.I. novel, or “Lion Plays Rough,” but it would be helpful. In the first, Teddy Maxwell, a powerhouse defense attorney, is shot in the head while having lunch, and his newly-hatched lawyer brother Leo must take over Teddy’s cases, including getting their father a new trial. Lawrence, their dad, had been convicted, perhaps wrongly, of killing their mother and was in San Quentin. “Lion Plays Rough” is more of a stand-alone, involving Leo’s defense of an accused child molester. In both novels we learn how much police hate defense lawyers, who often reveal police errors and shortcuts. In addition, in “Plays Rough” considerable tension is added by the general hatred of child molesters and

Media Files:

What Stands in a Storm

Mon, 16 Mar 2015 13:00:00 +0000

Title: What Stands in a Storm Author: Kim Cross Foreword by Rick Bragg Publisher: Atria Books Pages: 285 Price: $25.00 (Hardcover) After taking the BA and the MA in journalism at the U of A, Kim Cross honed her skills working as editor-at-large at “Southern Living” and writing articles for outdoor and sport magazines such as “Bicycling” and “Runner’s World” and several newspapers, including “USA Today.” “What Stands in a Storm” is her first book, released March 10th, and it has every chance of being a best seller. Cross’s book reminds one of Sebastian Junger’s 1997 blockbuster, “The Perfect Storm,” in which Junger described to his reader the atmospheric conditions that combined to create the giant nor’easter, and then personalized the meteorology by telling of the fate of the crew of the “Andrea Gail,” a long-line swordfish boat out of Gloucester, Massachusetts. Cross does a splendid job of educating her readers about tornadoes, the sometimes dangerous myths and life-saving scientific

Media Files:

Lost Capitals of Alabama

Mon, 09 Mar 2015 13:45:05 +0000

Title: Lost Capitals of Alabama Author: Herbert James Lewis Publisher: The History Press Pages: 158 Price: $19.99 (Paper) Montgomery, chosen over competing bids from Tuscaloosa, Wetumpka , Mobile, Marion, Statesville, Selma and Huntsville, has been the state capital since 1846, indeed was the capital of the Confederacy for three months in 1861 before that was moved to Richmond, but it was not always so. Montgomery is our fifth capital; the other four “lost” capitals are the subject of Lewis’ brief, informative book. The first of these was St. Stephens, sixty-seven miles north of Mobile, capital of the Alabama Territory from 1817-1819. The inhabitants of St. Stephens were described by Land Commissioner Ephraim Kirby in 1804 as “with few exceptions…illiterate, wild and savage, of depraved morals, unworthy of private confidence and public esteem; litigious, disunited, and knowing each other, universally distrustful of each other.” Nevertheless, a capital was constructed and creation of

Media Files:

Miss Hazel and the Rosa Parks League

Mon, 02 Mar 2015 14:00:00 +0000

Title: Miss Hazel and the Rosa Parks League Author: Jonathan Odell Publisher: Maiden Lane Press Pages: 462 Price: $16.00 (Paperback) This is Jonathan Odell’s first and third novel. In 2012 Odell published “The Healing,” a novel of black and white, master and slave, set on a Mississippi plantation in 1847. The heroine, Polly Shine, is an herbalist, feared as a witch, and powerful enough to organize the slaves and lead a quiet but devastating insurrection against Master Ben Satterfield and the Big House. Prior to “The Healing” Odell had published, in 2005, “The View from Delphi,” with MacAdam Cage Publishers of San Francisco, which went out of business. Revised and retitled “Miss Hazel and the Rosa Parks League,” the novel has been re-released by Maiden Lane Press, a new company that recently published Cassandra King’s “Moonrise.” “Miss Hazel” bears similarities in theme, characters and setting—the beginnings of the civil rights era in Mississippi—to Kathryn Stockett’s smash novel, but

Media Files:

Two Children's Books: Seeds of Freedom & The Cats Pajamas

Mon, 23 Feb 2015 14:00:00 +0000

Title: Seeds of Freedom: The Peaceful Integration of Huntsville, Alabama Author: Hester Bass Illustrator: E. B. Lewis Publisher: Candlewick Press Pages: 28 Price: $16.99 (Hardcover) Title: The Cat's Pajamas Author & Illustrator: Daniel Wallace Publisher: Inkshares: Crowdfunded Publishing Pages: 28 Price: $18.00 (Hardcover) It has not been the custom to discuss picture books or children’s books in this space, but these two arrived nearly simultaneously, are so visually elegant in their different ways and so coincidentally linked in theme, that the project became irresistible. “Seeds of Freedom” is the more conventional. Bass and Lewis have collaborated previously, on a children’s book/biography, “The Secret World of Walter Anderson,” which won awards for both the text and the watercolor illustrations. Bass, who lived in Huntsville for 10 years, has created a story to be read to children: accessible, but not simplistic, inspired, the Author’s Note tells us, by a pair of historical

Media Files:

West of Sunset

Mon, 16 Feb 2015 14:00:00 +0000

Title: West of Sunset Author: Stewart O'Nan Publisher: Viking Pages: 289 Price: $27.95 (Cloth) What hath Woody wrought? Since the release of “Midnight in Paris” there has been a stream of fictionalizations of the fabled figures of the Roaring Twenties: “The Paris Wife,” about Hemingway’s wife Hadley, “Z,” Zelda’s story from her point of view, Lee Smith’s “Guests on Earth” with Zelda as mental patient at Highlands Hospital in Asheville, and a half dozen more. Now we have “West of Sunset,” Stewart O’Nan’s novel of Fitzgerald’s last three years in Hollywood, until his death on Saturday, December 21, 1940. O’Nan is an accomplished, professional writer with 14 novels under his belt so the reader can properly assume skillful storytelling and graceful writing. He has the advantage here of a wildly popular, practically no-fail subject. Scott and Zelda are fixed forever in the pop culture pantheon. The public never tires of the stories of their beauty, talent, charm—their rise, wild antics and

Media Files:

Diamonds in the Rough

Tue, 10 Feb 2015 17:34:13 +0000

Title: Diamonds in the Rough Author: James Sanders Day Publisher: The University of Alabama Press Pages: 300 Price: $49.95 (Cloth) The Frontispiece for “Diamonds in the Rough” is a Geological Survey map of the coalfields of Alabama. We are endowed with five: “Plateau” in the north, “Coosa,” east-central, “Warrior” in the west and a scattered lignite belt across the south. Finally, tucked between Warrior and Coosa, 67 miles long, in Bibb, Jefferson, St. Clair and Shelby Counties, with the town of Blocton at its center, is the Cahaba Field, the subject of Day’s study. James Sanders Day, an historian and administrator at the University of Montevallo, has made a meticulous study of this field—both its industrial and human history. The first third of the book tells the story of the search for coal, from early development of mines, with primitive efforts beginning well before the Civil War, up to the mid-twentieth century. A number of still-familiar names tried their hand through booms and

Media Files:

Better Than Them: The Unmaking of an Alabama Racist

Mon, 02 Feb 2015 14:00:00 +0000

Title: Better Than Them: The Unmaking of an Alabama Racist Author: S. McEachin Otts Forward by Gaillard Frye Publisher: NewSouth Books Pages: 158 Price: $23.95 (Paper) Sixteen years ago Fred Hobson, one of our best commentators on Southern writing, published “But Now I See: The White Southern Racial Conversion Narrative” (1999). He examined in that book the writings of a number of Southerners who had come to recognize and reject their own racism, and then explored their racism and its causes, often in memoirs. The experience was much like the religious conversion experience: emotionally powerful. After all, they felt themselves to be saving their own souls. Hobson wrote about the works of Lillian Smith, Will Campbell, Willie Morris, Larry L. King, Pat Watters and others whose books were published in the ’40s through ’70s. Now there seems to be a new wave of such memoirs, with the action set mainly during the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Recently here I have talked about “Fear

Media Files:

Driving the King

Mon, 26 Jan 2015 14:00:00 +0000

Title: Driving the King Author: Ravi Howard Publisher: Harper/Collins Pages: 336 pp. Price: $25.99 (Hardcover) A slow and meticulous fiction writer, Howard took years to complete his first novel, “Like Trees Walking” (2007), the fictional retelling of the 1981 lynching of Michael Donald in Mobile. But “Trees” brought Howard the Ernest J. Gaines award, was a finalist for the Hemingway Foundation/Pen Award and brought him support from the NEA, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Hurston-Wright Foundation and the New Jersey Council on the Arts. (This same subject was examined with great success in nonfiction by B. J. Hollars in “Thirteen Loops: Race, Violence and the Last Lynching in America,” 2011). “Driving the King” has taken him seven years and I don’t doubt it will bring critical acclaim, literary prizes, if not wide readership. It seems lately the best-seller list has little to no room for thoughtful, ruminative prose, and “Driving the King” is literary fiction without apology.

Media Files:

The Meaning of Human Existence

Mon, 19 Jan 2015 14:38:22 +0000

Title : The Meaning of Human Existence" Author : E.O. Wilson Transcript to be added soon.

Media Files:

The Professor

Mon, 12 Jan 2015 14:00:00 +0000

Title: The Professor: A Legal Thriller Author: Robert Bailey Publisher: Exhibit A Pages: 404 Price: $14.99 (Paperback) Robert Bailey, in practice as a civil defense trial lawyer in Huntsville for the past 13 years, has now joined the legion of Alabama attorneys to try their hand at fiction. And it’s not a bad start at all. “The Professor” has believable, interesting characters and, most importantly, pace. Set in Tuscaloosa, at the UA Law School, with references to the City Café in Northport, in Faunsdale at the crawfish festival, on Route 82 halfway between Tuscaloosa and Montgomery, and with Alabama demi-gods as supporting cast, “The Professor” is rich, even over the top, in its desire to please an Alabama readership. We all love familiar place names. Opening scene: The Waysider, 1969, at 5:30 A.M. Coach Paul Bryant meets with a young trial lawyer, the protagonist, Thomas Jackson McMurtrie. Bryant has been asked by the Dean of the Law School to recruit a professor to teach Evidence

Media Files:

Flying Shoes

Mon, 05 Jan 2015 14:00:00 +0000

Title: Flying Shoes Author: Lisa Howorth Transcript to be added soon.

Media Files:

The Resurrectionist

Mon, 03 Nov 2014 14:00:00 +0000

“The Resurrectionist” Author: Matthew Guinn Pages: 284 Publisher: W. W. Norton & Co. Price: $25.95 (Cloth) To begin at the beginning: a resurrectionist is a body snatcher, a person who digs up newly buried bodies in a graveyard and delivers them to a medical school for students to work on and learn from in anatomy class. In the nineteenth century in America, as elsewhere, cadavers were scarce. Med students might have to study anatomy and practice surgical technique on dead pigs or goats. There are anatomical similarities, to be sure, but what woman would want her hysterectomy to be her surgeon’s first on a human! Guinn’s novel opens in the present, with a revelation shocking to the administration of the Medical College of South Carolina in Columbia. In the basement are discovered human remains, lots of them. Foul play is not suspected. The bones are 140 years old, but there is a mystery, and a potentially huge scandal. The bones are surely African-American. The outlines are clear.

Media Files:

An Infuriating American: The Incendiary Arts of H.L. Mencken

Mon, 27 Oct 2014 13:00:00 +0000

“An Infuriating American: The Incendiary Art of H. L. Mencken” Author: Hal Crowther Publisher: The University of Iowa Press; Muse Books: The Iowa Series in Creativity and Writing Pages: 92 Price: $16.00 (Paper) The Iowa Muse Series is not full-fledged biography or literary criticism. These short books are actually extended essays that attempt to explain the very essence of the writer under consideration. Previous subjects have been as varied as Wordsworth, Blake, Keats and the James brothers, William and Henry. Hal Crowther’s essay collection, “Cathedrals of Kudzu: A Personal Landscape of the South,” won both The Lillian Smith Award for commentary and the Fellowship Prize from the Fellowship of Southern Writers. His collection “Gather at the River” was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle prize in criticism and his syndicated columns won the H. L. Mencken Writing Award in 1992. Crowther is perfect for the task of understanding and explaining the curmudgeonly, cantankerous H.

Media Files:

The Death of Santini

Mon, 13 Oct 2014 13:00:00 +0000

“The Death of Santini: The Story of a Father and His Son” Author: Pat Conroy Publisher: Random House Pages: 336 Price: $28.95 (Cloth) This is not exactly an autobiography, although Conroy’s life story gets told. But then, as his prologue says: “I’ve been writing the story of my own life for over forty years....My stormy autobiography has been my theme, my dilemma, my obsession….” Readers of “The Prince of Tides” wondered how much was “true.” Readers of “The Great Santini” were afraid that much of it was true. The father in “Prince of Tides” was a mean, abusive shrimper. The father in “Santini” was, like Colonel Don Conroy, a decorated Marine Corps fighter pilot who arrived home many evenings after happy hour to terrorize and beat his family. Conroy pulls no punches. “I remember hating him even when I was in diapers.” And “I hated my father long before I knew there was a word for hate.” He was “a menacing, hovering presence, and I never felt safe for one moment….” “When I grew up, I

Media Files:

The Jumper

Tue, 07 Oct 2014 15:10:49 +0000

“The Jumper: A Novel” Author: Tim Parrish Publisher: Texas Review Press Pages: 287 Price: $26.95 (Paper) Raised in blue-collar Baton Rouge, after LSU and an MFA in fiction writing at Alabama, Tim Parrish has had his teaching career at Southern Connecticut State University. But in his writing, Parrish has never left the neighborhood in Baton Rouge where he was raised. Through three books in three genres he has returned to this seething, rather toxic place. “Red Stick Men,” his volume of stories, tells of his childhood and adolescence in the 1960s. Recently, his memoir, “Fear and What Follows: The Violent Education of a Christian Racist,” recalls the anger and frustration among lower middle class whites as the civil rights movement gained power and teenage boys were inspired to violence by the rhetoric of resistance. With “The Jumper,” winner of the George Garrett Fiction Prize, Parrish has returned again to the same few blocks of run-down, sad little wooden houses at the edge of the

Media Files:

Thelonius Rising

Mon, 29 Sep 2014 14:14:38 +0000

“Thelonious Rising” Author: Judith Richards Publisher: River’s Edge Media Pages: 317 Price: $19.00 (Paper) Judith Richards of Fairhope, Alabama, is a veteran novelist with a considerable track record. Since her first novel, “The Sounds of Silence,” in 1977 she has published five more, to considerable acclaim. “Summer Lightning” (1978) and “Too Blue to Fly” (1997) both won the Alabama Library Association Author Award. “Too Blue” was short-listed for the Lillian Smith Award. These novels, along with “After the Storm” (1987) are set in the Florida Everglades and based loosely on the childhood adventures of her late husband, the novelist Terry Cline. Her thriller, “Triple Indemnity,” something of a departure from her previous subjects, was published in 1982. In her latest she has returned to a familiar protagonist: the boy experiencing risky adventures, but in a new locale, and the storm in this novel, Hurricane Katrina, is a monster. Large catastrophic events such as 9/11 inspire writing,

Media Files:

Thirteen Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey

Mon, 22 Sep 2014 13:00:00 +0000

“13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey” (Commemorative Edition) Author: Kathryn Tucker Windham and Margaret Gillis Figh, with a new Afterword by Dilsy Windham Hilley and Ben Windham Publisher: University of Alabama Press Pages: 124 Price: $29.95 (Hardcover) In 1964 The Strode Publishers of Huntsville, Alabama released “Treasured Alabama Recipes” by Kathryn Tucker Windham. A great success, the book’s recipes were accompanied by stories that caught the public imagination. Strode was eager to have another book by Windham, stories this time, no recipes needed. Windham chose to write up ghost stories from around Alabama, collaborating with folklorist Margaret Gillis Figh of Huntingdon College in Montgomery. Windham did text and photographs; the very attractive woodcut illustrations were done by Delores Eskins Atkins. “13 Alabama Ghosts” was a hit, too, and when Strode went out of business the University of Alabama Press picked up the rights and the volume has been in print for 35 years, a perennial

Media Files:


Mon, 15 Sep 2014 13:00:00 +0000

“Halley” Author: Faye Gibbons Publisher: NewSouth Books Pages: 208 Price: $21.95 (Hardcover) 208 Faye Gibbons is an old pro at children’s and Young Adult writing. An Auburn graduate and author of more than a dozen books, she won the Georgia Author of the Year award in 1983 for “Some Glad Morning” and the Alabama Author Award for “Night in the Barn” in 1998, given by the Alabama Library Association. Although she lives in Alabama now, Gibbons was raised in the hills of northwest Georgia and sets most of her fiction there. Her characters are generally rural and poor, struggling to get by but holding together, only by virtue of family, sharing, love, church, neighbors. (Gibbons is not, it should be noted, novelist Kaye Gibbons of North Carolina, best known for the novel “Ellen Foster.”) Often compared to Laura Ingalls Wilder because of her plucky and beleaguered girl protagonists, Faye Gibbons can also be usefully compared to Robert Morgan, especially his “Gap Creek” novels. Closer to home

Media Files:

Muscle Shoals Sound Studio: How The Swampers Changed American Music

Mon, 08 Sep 2014 13:00:00 +0000

“Muscle Shoals Sound Studio: How The Swampers Changed American Music” Author: Carla Jean Whitley Publisher: The History Press Pages: 160 Price: $19.99 (Paper) Towards the end of her short history of the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, “Birmingham Magazine” managing editor Whitley discusses the new documentary “Muscle Shoals” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. This doc, a mixture of interviews with musicians such as Aretha Franklin and Mick Jagger and a “soundtrack that highlights some of the best of the Muscle Shoals sound” has brought attention back to the recording studios and their amazing history and also, happily, boosted tourism at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. Like many people, I suppose, I was familiar with these lines from the Alabama State Anthem, “Sweet Home Alabama,” by the Jacksonville, Florida, band, Lynyrd Skynyrd: “Now Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers/And they’ve been known to pick a song or two/Lord they get me off so much/They pick me up when I’m feeling

Media Files: