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RECENT RECOMMENDATIONS FROM SOUTHERN INDIES...

I came across this brilliant little gem of a novella in a used bookstore while traveling, and it immediately became one of my favorite Southern folk tales.

Though perhaps diamond in the rough would be a more fitting epithet, as its climactic battle is fought not by the noble knights or graceful gods of traditional epics, but rather by the comically gothic – almost grotesque – celebrities of an isolated Southern town. McCullers writes with such a vivid intensity of detail that the history of this short-lived cafe (like many of her short stories, especially Wunderkind) dwells in my memory more like a film than a story in a book.

The Ballad of the Sad Cafe: Carson McCullers' Novella Adapted for the Stage by Edward Albee, Carson McCullers ($12.95, Scribner), recommended by Vicki, Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC.

Two best friends raise their children to be perfect mates. Until the kids are three, they are constant companions. Then they are separated. The plan is that they will meet someday, and since they have so much in common, they will fall in love and be happy. This is wild, edgy, creative fiction!

How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky by Lydia Netzer ($25.99, St. Martin's Press), recommended by Helen at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

Beach trip checklist:
- sunscreen
- sunglasses
- lounge chair
- great summer

A talented young florist tries to make a go of her business in Savannah and finds more than her share of challenges along the way. This latest from Mary Kay has everything you could want: Romance; break ups; drama; intrigue. Oh, did I mention Goldendoodles? A total escape! I had so much fun reading this book!

Save The Date by Mary Kay Andrews ($26.99, St. Martin's Press), recommended by Samantha, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

Scott McClanahan's minimalist pseudo-memoir is a funny, clever, touching and honest book about growing up in rural West Virgina. A book about being proud of and finding beauty in where you come from, even when there's no glamour in it.

Crapalachia: A Biography of Place by Scott McClanahan ($16, Two Dollar Radio), recommended by Justin, Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville, NC.

A legitimate masterpiece, mixing antiseptic, dystopian sci-fi with reflections on aging, love and lonlieness.

Hoeullebecq's genius is on full display, switching between philosophical musings and caustic misanthropy while somehow retaining a lowkey humanity. A singular bit of fiction.

The Possibility of an Island by Michel Houellebecq, Gavin Bowd ($16, Vintage Books USA), recommended by Justin, Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville, NC.

His first book and my favorite.

I admit, although I don't like how he portrays most women in this book, I appreciate his descriptions, his words, how real and raw many parts are, how I can feel a moment described.

I pick up this book every year at different seasons because it feels changed to me depending on the time of the year, my age in life. It's hard to describe a book I always go back to, to attempt an explanation on why I love it, I just do.

Happy Death By Albert Camus ($15, Vintage), recommended by Erin, Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville, NC.

In 1953, Boy Novak runs away from her home on the Lower East Side of New York and ends up in a small town in Massachusetts.

She marries Arturo Whitman, a widower with an adored daughter named Snow, and the three live happily until the birth of Bird, whose dark skin exposes the Whitmans as African-Americans passing for white.

Oyeyemi is a stunning talent who examines the disparity in how we perceive ourselves and how we allow others to perceive us. Boy, Snow, Bird is a bewitching and beguiling tale with unforgettable characters.

Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi ($27.95, Riverhead Books), recommended by Amanda, Inkwood Books Tampa, FL.