In which her ladyship packs her bags, Mr. George Singleton has an achievable, if unlikely, goal, and macaroni and cheese is too a vegetable, thank you very much.
October 13, 2013
Her ladyship, the editor, is once again packing her bags, preparing to take a small vacation visiting the fall gardens of Monticello, Montpelier, and Ash Lawn-Highland--the homes of Presidents Jefferson, Madison, and James Monroe. It is a pilgrimage of sorts, conceived several years ago when her ladyship--a very haphazard gardener herself--happened to read a wonderful book called Founding Gardeners, delving into the a different kind of vision that the Founding Fathers--at least, the botanically-minded ones--conceived for their newly created country.
Her ladyship is going in search of seeds, but will no doubt return with much, much more. 9780307390684
her ladyship, the editor
Lady Banks' Commonplace Book
Noteworthy poetry and prose from her ladyship's bedside reading stack.
Mama always said that dog days is when you’re liable to see mad dogs. She never did explain why; but it’s true that every time we did see a mad dog it seemed to be dog days, that time in late July and August when the heat just sets down on top of us and stays, even after it gets dark, and the haze hangs over the mountains, so you can’t hardly see Chimney Top up the river or the tip of the Cicero Mountain or Pinnacle. To the west there is the mountains called the Smoky Mountains, but even here in the Blue Ridge Mountains the haze in dog days gets so thick the sun seems to be hiding and it looks like smoke from a big fire covers everything.
In dog days back then the weeds along the road got covered with dust as fine as soot. The trees didn’t have the fresh green of spring no more. Briars got tougher in the rows of corn, and the ground baked hard. Clods was sharp as bricks. Pools in the branch for a kind of scum on them, a wrinkled brown scum, and springs lost their boldness and got contaminated. In dog days you could get blood poisoning if you walked in dewy grass with a cut on your toe. In dog days copperheads went blind and would strike at anything that come near them. Since they couldn’t see, they crawled at night same as in the daytime.
Robert Morgan, The Road from Gap Creek(Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2013) 9781616201616
The books lying open on her ladyship's kitchen counter.
Baked Macaroni and Cheese A Vegetable in Some States
Macaroni and cheese is considered a vegetable, not just a side dish, in many places. The kind from a box, however, does not fall into the same category. Baked homeade macaroni and cheese is the only type that qualifies for this amended food pyramid.
1 pound fusilli pasta 2 teaspoons unsalted butter 1 cup fresh bread crumbs 8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, grated (2 cups) 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese 3 1/2 cups whole milk 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a shallow 3-quart baking dish.
Cook the pasta in boiling salted water according to the package directions until al dente. Drain well. Set aside.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the breadcrumbs and cook and stir until browned and crisp, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and add 2 tablespoons of the Cheddar and half the Parmesan cheese.
Return the saucepan to medium high heat and add the milk, flour, and garlic: whisk to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining Cheddar and Parmesan and the mustard, then season with the salt and pepper. Add the cooked pasta and turn the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
Sprinkle crumb topping over the pasta. Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly around the sides and the crumbs are deep golden brown.
--Martha Hall Foose, Screen Doors and Sweet Tea: Recipes and Tales from a Southern Cook(Clarkson Potter, 2008) 9780307351401
When you receive a bouquet sprinkle it lightly with fresh water, then put it into a vessel containing some soapsuds; this will take the place of the roots and keep the flowers bright as new. Take the bouquet out of the suds every morning, and lay it sideways, the stems entering first, in clean water; keep it there a minute of two, then take it out, and sprinkle the flowers lightly by hand with the water; replace it in the soapsuds, and it will bloom fresh as when first gathered.
The soapsuds need changing every three or four days. By observing these rules a bouquet can be kept bright and beautiful for at least a month, and will last longer in a very passable state.
--From The American Girls Handy Book: How to Amuse Yourself and Others, by Lina Beard and Adelia B. Beard. (David R. Godine, 1994) 9780879236663
Parapalooza! Paragraphs worth spreading: William Conescu reads from Kara Was Here
Brad Mitchell's life is falling apart. His marriage is in limbo. The woman he thought he would marry, Kara, died from an overdose. An old friend keeps trying to convince him that Kara was actually murdered. And he has started to see double. Literally. When Kara--or, rather, her ghost--returns to Brad, his past and present blur into a fog.
Kara Was Here tells the story of a failed actress whose life and sudden death are only partially understood; her teenage sister, Gwen, who starts taking dangerous steps into Kara's secret world; Kara's college friend, Margot, who went from being the football team's sexy secret weapon to the solitary proprietress of a baked goods business; and Kara's one-time lover, Brad, who stands with one foot in the past and one foot in an increasingly uncertain future.
In the spirit of Clare Messud's The Emperor's Children or Hannah Pittard's The Fates Will Find Their Way, Conescu's novel is at once a mystery about the dangers of aging into adulthood, an exploration of truth and perception, and a story about the ways we keep those we love with us--the people we've lost, the people we no longer see, and the people we used to be. 9781593765330
The Savannah Book Festival continues in its pattern of bringing sought-after best-selling authors to town with the announcement of this year’s headliners Scott Turow, Mitch Albom and Eben Alexander. Turow, author of nine best-selling books including “Innocent,” “Presumed Innocent” and “The Burden of Proof,” will open the festival on Feb. 13 with a presentation on his new mystery-thriller “Identical.” Savannah Book Festival announces authors
When Sharyn McCrumb jumps into a history story, it’s like Robin Williams taking on the role of the genie in Aladdin. Boy, does she have fun embodying a host of characters. Sharyn McCrumb 9781250011404
Why do you favor short stories? The chances of writing a strong, nearly perfect short story are better than writing a strong, nearly perfect novel. It seems an achievable, though unlikely, goal, to write a perfect story. A Conversation with George Sinleton
“I decided I wanted to set the book in Highlands [North Carolina]. The setting came first. Normally it’s the story idea, the characters, that sort of thing,” she says. “But I really thought the story evolved from the setting.” Moonrise
STARS Authors on tour:
What are "STARS" authors? These are authors listing in the Southern Traveling Authors Registration Service--a directory of authors who live in, or are traveling in the South and are interested in meeting with book clubs, civic groups, classrooms, and readers of all kinds. The STARS directory is brought to you by Southern Indie Booksellers, who want to connect readers with their favorite writers.
Harborwalk Books, Georgetown, S.C., whose building was among several in the town's historic district destroyed by fire last month, has opened temporarily at 105 Screven Street, near its former location, with help from Michele Overton and Lauren Call. Owner Ann Carlson wrote, "We will be moving back to the original location as soon as the building is replaced." Harborwalk Books reopens in temporary location
When we first opened, we had a gentleman who would come into the store every six months or so and tell me that the store would never last for long. He never bought anything, of course, and he eventually stopped coming in after about the third year. Thankfully, we can count the pessimists and critics on one hand, and I have always been extremely proud and humbled by the support that you -- our customers, friends and neighbors -- have given us. This is a dream job for me, and I have loved every minute of it. Bound to be Read Books
Set against the backdrop of the historic flooding of the Mississippi River, The Tilted World is an extraordinary tale of murder and moonshine, sandbagging and saboteurs, and a man and a woman who find unexpected love, from Tom Franklin, the acclaimed author of the New York Times bestsellerCrooked Letter, Crooked Letter, and award-winning poet Beth Ann Fennelly.
The year is 1927. As rains swell the Mississippi, the mighty river threatens to burst its banks and engulf everything in its path, including federal revenue agent Ted Ingersoll and his partner, Ham Johnson. Arriving in the tiny hamlet of Hobnob, Mississippi, to investigate the disappearance of two fellow agents who'd been on the trail of a local bootlegger, they are astonished to find a baby boy abandoned in the middle of a crime scene.
Ingersoll, an orphan raised by nuns, is determined to find the infant a home, and his search leads him to Dixie Clay Holliver. A strong woman married too young to a philandering charmer, Dixie Clay has lost a child to illness and is powerless to resist this second chance at motherhood. From the moment they meet, Ingersoll and Dixie Clay are drawn to each other. He has no idea that she's the best bootlegger in the county and may be connected to the agents' disappearance. And while he seems kind and gentle, Dixie Clay knows full well that he is an enemy who can never be trusted.
When Ingersoll learns that a saboteur might be among them, planning a catastrophe along the river that would wreak havoc in Hobnob, he knows that he and Dixie Clay will face challenges and choices that they will be fortunate to survive. Written with extraordinary insight and tenderness, The Tilted World is that rarest of creations, a story of seemingly ordinary people who find hope and deliverance where they least expect it--in each other.
The Maid’s Version Daniel Woodrell, the author of nine previous books, including the acclaimed Winter’s Bone now offers the story of an explosion in a dance hall in 1929 that killed 42 and scarred many in a small Missouri town. The cause remained unknown, but one maid, a relative of a victim, shares her story with her grandson; but genuine understanding can only come with learning the history of all the victims, the intractable social structure of the town and long memories of those left behind who can’t leave or won’t. Woodrell writes beautifully about an often brutal land. CFR 9780316205856
THE PURCHASE Linda Spalding Set in Virginia at the end of the 18th century, The Purchase tells the story of a widowed man and his family’s struggle to survive a harsh frontier life after being banished from their strict religious community. Exploring the complex issues of slavery, religion, freedom, sin and redemption by delving deeply into each of the characters’ inner lives and personal tragedies, The Purchase is a novel both dark and hopeful. The authentic voices that are the lifeblood of this story hooked me from the first page, and the drama, romance and psychological intrigue made it difficult to put down. AL 9780307908414
DISSIDENT GARDENS Jonathan Lethem (Doubleday, hd. 27.95, avail. 9/10) The always erudite Jonathan Lethem turns his gaze to the borough of Queens and the history of American radicalism in his latest effort. At the center of the novel is the interwoven story of two women, Rose Zimmer, an unreconstructed Communist and tyrannical mother, and Miriam, her strong willed, brilliant daughter who flees her mother’s influence to join the bohemians in Greenwich Village. Spanning three generations and stretching from the age of McCarthyism to today’s Occupy movement, Lethem spins a moving, satirical tale of Utopian dreams that is sure to be a hit with readers and critics alike. CM 9780385534932
& SONS David Gilbert (Random House, hd. 27.00) If you went to the beach but failed to find a suitable book, get & Sons and pretend you’re at the beach, as you’ll be quickly engrossed in this novel and won’t know you’re not at the beach. The story’s momentum begins with the funeral of the life-long best friend of a famous, reclusive novelist, and never lets up as we follow the fates of sons & lovers, the effect a literary career has upon the author’s real-life characters, and the pulsing life of modern day New York. Reading pleasure one might expect by breeding The Hair of Harold Roux with The Rules of Civility. RH 9780812993967
5. Moonrise Cassandra King, Maiden Lane Press, $26.95, 9781940210001 7. Lookaway, Lookaway Wilton Barnhardt, St. Martin's, $25.99, 9781250020833
7. Men We Reaped Jesmyn Ward, Bloomsbury, $26, 9781608195213 8. Si-Cology 1 Si Robertson, Howard Books, $22.99, 9781476745374 11. Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls David Sedaris, Little Brown, $27, 9780316154697
TRADE PAPERBACK FICTION
6. Flight Behavior Barbara Kingsolver, Harper Perennial, $16.99, 9780062124272 13. The Great Gatsby F.Scott Fitzgerald, Scribner, $15, 9781451689433
TRADE PAPERBACK NONFICTION
10. Gift From the Sea Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Pantheon, $9.95, 9780679732419 11. The Old Farmer's Almanac 2014 Old Farmer's Almanac, $7.95, 9781571986030
1. To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee, Grand Central, $7.99, 9780446310789
8. The Racketeer John Grisham, Dell, $9.99, 9780345530578
10. Little Blue Truck Alice Schertle, Jill McElmurry (Illus.), Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $6.99, 9780547248288
7. Paper Towns John Green, Speak, $9.99, 9780142414934 8. Al Capone Does My Shirts Gennifer Choldenko, Penguin, $6.99, 9780142403709