In which her ladyship, the editor, points out that just because it is fiction, doesn't mean it is fantasy. (Not, she hastens to add, that there is anything wrong with a good fantasy.)
December 8, 2013
Every now and then her ladyship runs into a person who tells her “Oh, I don’t read fiction, it’s too frivolous.” And she thinks to herself, how can that be? Her ladyship has read a great many books in her life, but the most important ones--the ones she learned the most from, have most often been fiction. She always remembers the advice a wise (fictional) English teacher once gave Francie Nolan--the heroine in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn: “Tell the truth, but write what you think should have happened.” 9780060736262
Fiction isn’t fantasy, it’s what could be.
Not that there is anything wrong with a good fantasy.
Happy reading, and shopping, independently!
her ladyship, the editor
Lady Banks' Commonplace Book
Noteworthy poetry and prose from her ladyship's bedside reading stack.
My Miracle on 34th Street moment happened by accident. I was driving home from Virginia’s last summer when I was forced to take a detour by a late-nineteenth-century Queen Anne Victorian. I caught a glimpse of the FOR SALE sign in the yard and screeched a uey not five feet past the house. The blue paint was cracked and peeling, hardly something to be proud of. Most people wouldn’t have given the place a second glance. But something about it intrigued me. A large pecan tree with protruding roots shaded the thick carpet of zoysia, the only shade grass with a prayer in t he South, and the thought of homemade pecan pies was all it took for me to turn on my blinker. After pulling up through the gravel driveway and ramming the gearshift into park, I ran up the boxwood-lined walkway and onto the wraparound front porch, peering in the front windows. The original front door still had its charming old turn-style bell. No one was living there, and after finding the back door unlocked I crept inside. The kitchen was frumpy, terribly outdated, but I am a visionary. Undaunted and curious, I pushed through the swinging door that led into the dining room and wandered though to the foyer with its intricately carved grand staircase. Looking around at the twelve-foot ceilings and large rooms with fireplaces off to each side set my mind ablaze with possibilities. …I knew then and there that it was my destiny.
--Lisa Patton, Southern as a Secondd Language (Thomas Dunne, 2013) 9781250020659
The books lying open on her ladyship's kitchen counter.
Now as to the recipe for ice tea:
Lemons are essential and should be of the big-thick-skinned variety, cut into sixths. They are never--repeat: never--squeezed but only plumped into the pitcher, four or five slices. Extra slices are offered on a cut-glass plate six inches in diameter. Mint may be added, but it is always submerged in the pitcher and never put into a glass where it would glue to the interior side like a Harley Davidson decal.
And sweetening is the soul of this potation. The sugar bowl passes from hand to hand at a pace so dizzying it is like watching the rotation of an old 78-rpm record. Southerners demand sweetness. The truly thoughtful hostess shall have already sweetened the tea for her guests with a simple sugar syrup that excludes the possibility of unpleasant graininess from bowl sugar. Sugar syrup for ice tea is concocted by adding one pound of Dixie Crystal sugar to a tablespoon of water.
In the south, sweetened ice tea is taken for granted, like the idea that stock car racing is our national pastime and that the Southern Baptist church is a legitimate arm of the Republican Party. If you order ice tea in a restaurant it will arrive presweetened. If you want it unsweetened, you must ask for it . Actually, you must demand it with pistol drawn and cocked.
--Fred Chappell, “Iced Tea, a Contrarian’s View” in Cornbread Nation 1: The Best of Southern Food Writing, edited by John Edgerton. (University of North Carolina Press, 2002) 9780807854198
Whatever difference in its physical nature climate and soil may produce in this animal, his functional characteristics are the same in whatever part of the world he may be found; and whether in the trackless forests of South America, the coral isles of Polynesia, the jungles of India, or the spicy brakes of Sumatra, he is everywhere known for his gluttony, laziness, and indifference to the character and quality of his food. And though he occasionally shows an epicure’s relish for a succulent plant or a luscious carrot, which he will discuss with all his salivary organs keenly excited, he will, the next moment, turn with equal gusto to some carrion offal that might excite the forbearance of the unscrupulous cormorant.
To Cure Bacon in the Wiltshire Way
Ingredients. --1 1/2 lb. of coarse sugar, 1 1/2 lb. of bay-salt, 6 oz. of saltpetre, 1 lb of common salt.
Mode.--Sprinkle each flitch with salt, and let the blood drain off for 24 hours; then pound and mix the above ingredients well together and rub it well into the meat, which should be turned every day for a month; then hang it to dry, and afterwards smoke it for 10 days.
Time. --To remain in the pickle 1 month, to be smoked 10 days. Sufficient--The above quantity of salt for 1 pig.
--Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management (Abridged edition), edited by Nicola Humble (Oxford University Press, 2008) 9780199536337
After completing a course in Race and Slavery at UNC-Greensboro two years ago, I thought I was prepared for “12 Years a Slave,” but the movie is difficult to watch. The escalating fear and the relentless brutality are palpable with each eruption of condescension by an overseer, with every crack of a whip tearing into flesh. Others have shared stories of such cruelty through their writings as well, from their own experiences and those of others, including Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe and William Styron. 12 Years a Slave 9780143106708
With unforgettable scenes starting on Page One, Zacharias does not sugarcoat the tragedy and the humanity, but neither does she skimp on the themes of love and friendship that tie this story together. I thought often, while I was reading about Maizee, that Flannery O’Connor had that same ability to shock and comfort at the same time. Zacharias has a gift for that kind of gritty storytelling, and she told me recently that there are likely more stories about Maizee’s family waiting to be told. The characters are based on some of Zacharias’ own family, and her love for them shines through. When you pick up “Mother of Rain,” leave plenty of time for reading because you won’t want to put it down. Mother of Rain
After receiving an official challenge to remove "The Color Purple" from Brunswick County Schools' curriculum, district officials decided to keep the book in classes and in school libraries, according to a news release from the district. The Color Purple
She admits that although “fiction is singularly mine,” nonfiction is often produced to satisfy an editor’s requests or a particular readership. Nonetheless, a friend persuaded Patchett to compile the best of her nonfiction work into a book, insisting that these essays “deserved the chance to sit together, and that by keeping company, they would inform one another.” Ann Patchett
"It is one of those moments you have in your time as a student when all lights come on, when everything happens, when the fire of education, whenever that fire is lit and you feel it lit in your body and it won't go out, because that great teacher has changed your life forever." Pat Conroy
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.
The Hub City Writers Project is pleased to announce that Anne Waters has joined our staff as manager of the Hub City Bookshop. Anne brings to the position 18 years of bookselling experience, beginning at the Capitol Bookstore in her hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas, where she worked for five years. She then turned to trade book publishing, serving as publicist for August House Publishers in Arkansas and vice president of sales and marketing for John F. Blair, Publisher in Winston-Salem, N.C.. Hub City Bookshop
"I thought I was done," said Brian Lampkin, co-owner of the soon-to-open Scuppernong Books in Greensboro, N.C. Lampkin has worked at one bookstore or another for most of his adult life, and owned Rust Belt Books in Buffalo, N.Y. After selling the store and deciding to move to North Carolina, he didn't think he'd open another. "But suddenly you find a space, and you're completely invested in the madness again." Scuppernong Books comes to Greensboro, NC
I do my best to never judge a book by its cover, but must admit that I am sometimes swayed by a clever or intriguing title. I recently found three new galleys especially intriguing: Noggin by John Corey Whaley (S&S/Atheneum), Andrew Smith’s Grasshopper Jungle (Dutton), and We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (Delacorte). Upcoming Young Adult Books to look for from The Country Bookshop
Read This! Recommended Reading from Southern Indie Holiday Catalogs: Fiction
The Tilted World by Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly
A story of murder and moonshine from Franklin, the acclaimed author of the New York Times bestseller Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, and his wife, Pushcart Prize-winning poet Fennelly. William Morrow
“In a compelling, poetic, and detailed manner, Franklin and Fennelly bring to life a little-known catastrophe in American history. The Tilted World weaves together the stories of two endearing characters — an orphan who grows up to be a decorated World War I hero turned Prohibition revenuer and a bootlegging firecracker of a woman who yearns for her lost child. Add the setting of a town on the brink of destruction by deluge and some unsavory characters looking to profit from calamity, and the reader will be swept away by their story.” —Sara Peyton, CoffeeTree Books, Morehead, KY
And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini. An unforgettable novel from the #1 New York Times- bestselling author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns about how we love, how we take care of one another, and how the choices we make resonate through generations.
“This rich and engrossing story starts with a poor family in rural Afghanistan in 1952 and branches out into interconnecting lives in Kabul, Paris, Greece, and California before coming back home again. Hosseini's writing craft and storytelling have only gotten better since his previous two novels (The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns). The characters' choices and their influence on each others lives, as well as the effect on them of world events, is profoundly moving.” Sarah at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC
“In And the Mountains Echoed, Khaled Hosseini truly hits his stride as an author. In this book, he expands on some of the themes of The Kite Runner, but this time approaches them with more reality and nuance. And the Mountains Echoed is a study in love, loss, and human nature. Absolutely wonderful from beginning to end. --Kendra at Malaprops Bookstore and Cafe in Asheville, NC
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. The author of the classic bestsellers The Secret History and The Little Friend returns with a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling force and acuity.
“Every single sentence in The Goldfinch is constructed with the same level of care that went into the Golden Gate Bridge. In short, she has given this one her all.” -- Ann Patchett, Parnassus Books in Nashville, TN
Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson.
Shandi Pierce fell hard for William Ashe almost the first minute she saw him in a gas station minimart. She landed bang in the middle of a love story—but it wasn’t her own.
"Once you start reading Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson, you will not be able to stop until you either finish it or pass out from sheer exhaustion. I found myself up hours past my bedtime trying to get to the end of Joshilyn's sixth and most accomplished novel. No one else has that ability to suck you into her story and into her character's lives and into the magic of the unexpected." --Sally Brewster, Park Road Books in Charlotte NC
The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert.
A glorious, sweeping novel of desire, ambition, and the thirst for knowledge, from the #1 New York Times-bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love and Committed.
"Most of the world knows Elizabeth Gilbert from her blockbuster memoir, Eat Pray Love, but I am partial to some of her earlier work: the novel Stern Men, based on Maine’s lobster wars, and the fascinating profile The Last American Mountain Man. The Signature of All Things is a return to the historical saga beginning with the story of Henry Whittaker, an impoverished English botanist who becomes the wealthiest man in Philadelphia by producing quinine, but focusing on his equally brilliant, ambitious daughter Alma, born in 1800. Her ventures into science, art, the spiritual, business and love are enthralling and surprising. Written in a beautifully archaic voice, meticulously researched, the story takes the reader on expeditionary voyages around the world and into the heart of 18th and 19th century life, history and philosophy. Highly recommended: Buy, Read, Love!" --LH at Square Books, in Oxford, MS
“Surprised by how slowly I started into the story and surprised by how much it rewarded me for keeping at it. Love the author's mind and can hear her voice clearly through the story she tells.” --Emoke, Malaprops Bookstore and Cafe in Asheville, NC
1. Sycamore Row John Grisham, Doubleday, $28.95, 9780385537131 2. The Goldfinch Donna Tartt, Little Brown, $30, 9780316055437 3. The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion Fannie Flagg, Random House, $27, 9781400065943 4. Aimless Love Billy Collins, Random House, $26, 9780679644057 5. Guests on Earth Lee Smith Shannon Ravenel Books, $25.95, 9781616202538 6. Dog Songs Mary Oliver Penguin Press, $26.95, 9781594204784 7. Someone Else's Love Story Joshilyn Jackson, Morrow, $26.99, 9780062105653 8. The Valley of Amazement Amy Tan, Ecco, $29.99, 9780062107312 9. We Are Water Wally Lamb, Harper, $29.99, 9780061941023 10. The Signature of All Things Elizabeth Gilbert, Viking, $28.95, 9780670024858 11. The First Phone Call From Heaven Mitch Albom, Harper, $24.99, 9780062294371 12. King and Maxwell David Baldacci, Grand Central, $28, 9781455521319 13. The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon Alexander McCall Smith, Pantheon, $24.95, 9780307378415 14. Christmas Bliss Mary Kay Andrews, St. Martin's, $16.99, 9781250019721 15. The Circle Dave Eggers, Knopf, $27.95, 9780385351393
1. David and Goliath Malcolm Gladwell, Little Brown, $29, 9780316204361 2. The Death of Santini Pat Conroy, Nan A. Talese, $28.95, 9780385530903 3. The Bully Pulpit Doris Kearns Goodwin, S&S, $40, 9781416547860 4. Things That Matter Charles Krauthammer, Crown Forum, $28, 9780385349178 5. This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage Ann Patchett, Harper, $27.99, 9780062236678 6. I Am Malala Malala Yousafzai, Little Brown, $26, 9780316322409 7. Stitches Anne Lamott, Riverhead, $17.95, 9781594632587 8. One Summer: America, 1927 Bill Bryson, Doubleday, $28.95, 9780767919401 9. Killing Jesus Bill O'Reilly, Martin Dugard, Holt, $28, 9780805098549 10. The Southerner's Handbook: A Guide to Living the Good Life Garden & Gun Magazine, HarperWave, $27.99, 9780062242389 11. I Could Pee on This Francesco Marciuliano, Chronicle, $12.95, 9781452110585 12. George Washington's Secret Six Brian Kilmeade, Don Yaeger, Sentinel, $27.95, 9781595231031 13. The Men Who United the States Simon Winchester, Harper, $29.99, 9780062079602 14. My Promised Land Ari Shavit, Spiegel & Grau, $28, 9780385521703 15. Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey: Recipes from My Three Favorite Food Groups (and Then Some) John Currence, Andrews McMeel, $40, 9781449428808
TRADE PAPERBACK FICTION
1. Dear Life Alice Munro, Vintage, $15.95, 9780307743725 2. Beautiful Ruins Jess Walter, Harper Perennial, $15.99, 9780061928178 3. The Dinner Herman Koch, Hogarth, $14, 9780385346856 4. Me Before You Jojo Moyes, Penguin, $16, 9780143124542 5. Where'd You Go, Bernadette Maria Semple, Back Bay, $14.99, 9780316204262 6. The Light Between Oceans M.L. Stedman, Scribner, $16, 9781451681758 7. The Round House Louise Erdrich, Harper Perennial, $15.99, 9780062065254 8. Flight Behavior Barbara Kingsolver, Harper Perennial, $16.99, 9780062124272 9. Life After Life Jill McCorkle, Shannon Ravenel Books, $14.95, 9781616203221 10. Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore Robin Sloan, Picador, $15, 9781250037756 11. The Aviator's Wife Melanie Benjamin, Bantam, $15, 9780345528681 12. The Storyteller Jodi Picoult, Atria, $16, 9781439102770 13. The Last Runaway Tracy Chevalier, Plume, $16, 9780142180365 14. Telegraph Avenue Michael Chabon, Harper Perennial, $16.99, 9780061493355 15. The House Girl Tara Conklin, Morrow, $14.99, 9780062207517
TRADE PAPERBACK NONFICTION
1. Unlikely Loves Jennifer S. Holland, Workman, $13.95, 9780761174424 2. Hyperbole and a Half Allie Brosh, Touchstone, $17.99, 9781451666175 3. Orange Is the New Black Piper Kerman, Spiegel & Grau, $16, 9780812986181 4. Thinking, Fast and Slow Daniel Kahneman, FSG, $16, 9780374533557 5. Wild Cheryl Strayed, Vintage, $15.95, 9780307476074 6. Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power Jon Meacham, Random House, $20, 9780812979480 7. Rude Bitches Make Me Tired Celia Rivenbark, Griffin, $14.99, 9781250029232 8. Proof of Heaven Eben Alexander, M.D., S&S, $15.99, 9781451695199 9. World Almanac and Book of Facts 2014 Sarah Janssen (Ed.), World Almanac, $13.99, 9781600571824 10. Philomena Martin Sixsmith, Penguin, $16, 9780143124726 11. The Old Farmer's Almanac 2014 Old Farmer's Almanac, $7.95, 9781571986030 12. Stand Up That Mountain Jay Erskine Leutze, Scribner, $18, 9781451682649 13. The Book of Questions Gregory Stock, Workman, $8.95, 9780761177319 14. Outliers Malcolm Gladwell, Back Bay, $16.99, 9780316017930 15. Dog Shaming Pascale Lemire, Three Rivers Press, $15, 9780385349345
1. Ender's Game Orson Scott Card, Tor, $7.99, 9780765370624 2. A Storm of Swords George R.R. Martin, Bantam, $9.99, 9780345543981 3. The Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger, Little Brown, $6.99, 9780316769488 4. A Dance With Dragons George R.R. Martin, Bantam, $9.99, 9780553582017 5. The Name of the Wind Patrick Rothfuss, DAW, $8.99, 9780756404741 6. Speaker for the Dead Orson Scott Card, Tor, $7.99, 9780812550757 7. Best Kept Secret Jeffrey Archer, St. Martin's, $9.99, 9781250040770 8. To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee, Grand Central, $7.99, 9780446310789 9. A Game of Thrones George R.R. Martin, Bantam, $9.99, 9780553593716 10. The Racketeer John Grisham, Dell, $9.99, 9780345530578
1. The Day the Crayons Quit Drew Daywalt, Oliver Jeffers (Illus.), Philomel, $17.99, 9780399255373 2. How the Grinch Stole Christmas Dr. Seuss, Random House, $15, 9780394800790 3. An Otis Christmas Loren Long, Philomel, $17.99, 9780399163951 4. Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses James Dean, Kimberly Dean, Harper, $17.99, 9780062275561 5. Who Is Coming to Our House? Joseph Slate, Ashley Wolff (Illus.), Putnam, $6.99, 9780399234101 6. On the Night You Were Born Nancy Tillman, Feiwel & Friends, $7.99, 9780312601553 7. Goodnight Moon Margaret Wise Brown, Clement Hurd (Illus.), Harper, $8.99, 9780694003617 8. The Elf on the Shelf Carol Abersoldt, Coe Steinwart (Illus.), CCA and B, $20, 9780976990703 9. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Bill Martin, Eric Carle (Illus.), Holt, $7.95, 9780805047905 10. Santa! A Scanimation Picture Book Rufus Butler Seder, Workman, $14.95, 9780761177258
1. The Book Thief Markus Zusak, Knopf, $12.99, 9780385754729 2. The Fault in Our Stars John Green, Dutton, $17.99, 9780525478812 3. Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims Rush Limbaugh, Threshold Editions, $19.99, 9781476755861 4. Looking for Alaska John Green, Speak, $9.99, 9780142402511 5. Fortunately, the Milk Neil Gaiman, Skottie Young (Illus.), Harper, $14.99, 9780062224071 6. Frog Trouble . . . and Eleven Other Pretty Serious Songs Sandra Boynton, Workman, $16.95, 9780761171768 7. Wonder R.J. Palacio, Knopf, $15.99, 9780375869020 8. An Abundance of Katherines John Green, Speak, $9.99, 9780142410707 9. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever Barbara Robinson, HarperTrophy, $5.99, 9780064402750 10. Paper Towns John Green, Speak, $9.99, 9780142414934
CHILDREN'S FICTION SERIES TITLES
1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck Jeff Kinney, Amulet, $13.95, 9781419711329 2. Allegiant (Divergent, #3) Veronica Roth, Katherine Tegen Books, $19.99, 9780062024060 3. Divergent Veronica Roth, Katherine Tegen Books, $9.99, 9780062024039 4. Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games) Suzanne Collins, Scholastic, $12.99, 9780545586177 5. The House of Hades (The Heroes of Olympus, Book Four) Rick Riordan, Hyperion, $19.99, 9781423146728 6. The Hunger Games Suzanne Collins, Scholastic, $12.99, 9780545425117 7. Mockingjay (The Final Book of the Hunger Games) Suzanne Collins, Scholastic, $18.99, 9780439023511 8. Insurgent (Divergent, #2) Veronica Roth, Katherine Tegen Books, $17.99, 9780062024046 9. When Did You See Her Last? (All the Wrong Questions) Lemony Snicket, Seth (Illus.), Little Brown, $16, 9780316123051 10. Diary of a Wimpy Kid Jeff Kinney, Amulet, $13.95, 9780810993136