Peder Zane was taken aback when a publisher expressed interest in columns he wrote as the book review editor at The News & Observer. “I assumed my newspaper columns had the shelf life of yellow bananas,” he said.
“Off the Books: On Literature and Culture” (University of South Carolina Press), is a collection of 111 of the more than 600 columns Zane wrote as book review editor from 1997 to 2009. He has organized them into a dozen thematic sections with topics ranging from Wilt Chamberlain to William Faulkner, gay rights to racism and 9/11, as well as profiles of North Carolina writers from Reynolds Price to David Sedaris.
“I was lucky that the N&O allowed me to write a wide-ranging column that used books as a jumping-off point to explore ideas that have, and continue to, shape America,” he says.
“The hardest part was rereading those 600-plus columns. In my memory they were all perfect. On the computer screen, not so much. I didn’t make any substantive changes, but it was nice to be able to do a little nipping and tucking.”
Zane, chairman of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at Saint Augustine’s University, will read from “Off the Books” at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh. He is a contributing columnist to the N&O op-ed page.
“Every Town is a Sports Town” (Grand Central Publishing) is George Bodenheimer’s take on the remarkable rise of ESPN. Bodenheimer, the company’s longest-tenured president, 1998-2011, was initially hired to work in the mail room and tasked with picking up Dick Vitale at the airport. “A wonderful story of how ESPN became number one and stayed there for three decades,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski says. “Teamwork can work just as well in business as it does in sports.” Bodenheimer is donating all proceeds to The V Foundation, where he serves as a member of the board of directors.
The Outer Banks stars in three newly published titles. “A History of Fort Ocracoke in Pamlico Sound” by Robert K. Smith; “Legendary Locals of the Northern Outer Banks” by R. Wayne Gray and Nancy Beach Gray; and “Images of America: Cape Hatteras National Seashore” by Douglas Stover, were released simultaneously by Arcadia Publishing and The History Press.
Wally Avett calls “Rebel Bushwhacker” (W&B Publishers) lively mountain fiction, centered on true Civil War events that happened in the area where Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia converge. “The War Between the States was a vicious guerrilla struggle here in these mountains,” Avett says. “I’ve heard and read these stories and molded them into this book of fiction. It’s both tough and tender.” Avett, a retired newsman, lives in Murphy.
In “The Invaders” (Belknap Press), anthropologist Pat Shipman proposes that modern humans were an invasive species when they entered Europe, disrupting the ecosystem and forcing the extinction or radical behavioral changes of top-tier carnivores, most notably Neanderthals. Shipman, a retired professor, lives in Moncure.
Bob Garner, UNC-TV’s food guru, will talk about his next book at noon Sunday and 5 p.m. Thursday on UNC-TV’s North Carolina Bookwatch. In “Foods That Make You Say Mmm-mmm” (John F. Blair), Garner focuses on signature North Carolina dishes such as Brunswick stew, Moravian chicken pie, banana pudding and scuppernong grapes.
Triangle-area authors: We want to hear about your new book. Send information to firstname.lastname@example.org. As space permits, we will mention self-published books by local authors that are for sale on commercial sites.