Reading matters

Dannye Romine Powell: New books by Carolinas writers

dpowell@charlotteobserver.comApril 5, 2014 

Carolinas writers are busy cranking out books.

Vanderbilt professor and Rutherfordton native Tony Earley has a new story collection, “Mr. Tall,” out in August. It’s been 20 years since Earley’s last collection, “Here We Are in Paradise.” So what’s he been doing?

Former N.C. Poet Laureate Fred Chappell of Greensboro has a book of poems about cats – “Familiars” – due in August from LSU.

Davidson’s Alan Michael Parker has a novel due in June from Dzanc Publishers. Says Parker: “The Committee on Town Happiness” is set in a fictional small town – not a college town. Kirkus Review: “Parker’s not trying to be Dostoevsky here but rather wishes to create light and good-natured entertainment – and he succeeds.”

UNC Charlotte’s Aimee Parkinson’s eerily intriguing novel, “The Petals of Your Eyes,” is out in May from Starcherone Books. About Parkinson’s collection of stories, “The Innocent Party,” Cris Mazza (“How to Leave a Country”) wrote: “These stories are like running a finger around a seemingly smooth edge of glass – you don’t know you’ve been cut until you bleed.”

Charlotte’s Kim Wright, whose novel, “Love in Mid Air,” was praised by Publishers Weekly for its “fresh perspective and sympathetic characters few writers can match,” has a novel, “The Unexpected Waltz,” due in May from Gallery Books.

Scott Ely was a popular fiction writing professor at Winthrop University in Rock Hill. Ely died in October, and his novel, “Plumb’s Bluff,” is due in June from Livingston Press. If you know Ely’s work, it won’t surprise you to find a hero gunning to win a national rapids race, as well as a murder and a Romanian sculptress who swims nude in the river’s baptismal pool. Unadulterated Ely.

Hendersonville native Robert Morgan (“The Road From Gap Creek”) says he’s finishing a novel set in 1850 – “The Year of the Fugitive Slave Law” – about two slaves who escape from the Carolinas and make their way to Ithaca, N.Y.

Down in Sullivans Island, S.C., Josephine Humphreys (“Nowhere Else on Earth”) is working on a novel with a contemporary setting and is also absorbed in “something – I’m not sure what” about colonial Haiti.

Hillsborough’s Lee Smith (“Guests on Earth”) has finished a memoir, “Dimestore.” Smith’s dad owned the Ben Franklin dime store in the small, coal-mining town of Grundy, Va. The project, she says, “got a kick-start recently when the entire town was demolished as part of a flood-control project.” The house where she was born was also bulldozed. Someone salvaged the Smiths’ brass doorknocker, which now hangs in her study.

Today and through the week: readinglifeobs.blogspot.com.

dpowell@charlotteobserver.com

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