It’s almost July. Have you made a list of books to read on your summer vacation? Here are some North Carolina books for that list.
UNC-Wilmington’s Clyde Edgerton’s “Night Train” came out three years ago and remains a favorite because it takes me back to my growing up years. Two friends, both teenaged boys, live in Starke, a fictional eastern North Carolina town, in the early 1960s. One, Larry Lime Nolan, is black, and he wants to play jazz like Thelonious Monk. The other, Dwayne Hallston, is white, and he wants to be another James Brown. They have much in common, but rules of the segregated South put roadblocks in the way of their friendship.
Ruth Moose’s debut novel, “Doing It at the Dixie Dew,” won the Malice Domestic First Best Traditional Mystery Award from St. Martin’s Press. But she is no ordinary first-time novelist. She is well known in North Carolina literary circles as an award-winning poet, storywriter, book reviewer, and retired UNC-Chapel Hill creative writing teacher.
Her mystery is set in a fictional North Carolina small town called Littleboro. The lead character, Beth Henry, has just opened a bed and breakfast called The Dixie Dew. Her first guest dies in her room, and there is more loss of life, all murders. Ultimately, Beth tracks down the culprits. But along the way we meet a cast of characters who could have come from the small towns in books by Jan Karon, Margaret Maron, or Ann B. Ross.
Shirley Temple’s recent death reminded us how her spunk and radiant smile captured the hearts of Americans in the 1930s. UNC-Chapel Hill Professor John Kasson’s new book, “The Little Girl Who Fought the Great Depression: Shirley Temple and 1930s America,” reviews her film career and explains why she holds an important place in America’s cultural and political history. (Airing on UNC-TV’s “North Carolina Bookwatch” June 26)
As the short session of the state’s legislature rolls towards adjournment and the fall election campaigns rev up, North Carolinians may be asking, “How did our state get to its present political situation?” East Carolina University Professor Tom Eamon’s “The Making of a Southern Democracy: North Carolina Politics from Kerr Scott to Pat McCrory” is a big help in understanding that puzzle. (June 27, 29, July 3)
Peggy Payne is known and respected for her novels about religious topics. Her latest is "Cobalt Blue," in which a 38-year-old Pinehurst artist, is consumed by uncontrollable sexual arousal and activity, a condition that may be explained by a feature of a brand of Asian yoga known as “kundalini rising.” The book’s vivid descriptions led the author’s husband to warn that it is “not for the faint hearted.” (July 4, 6, 10)
Like Wilma Dykeman in her classic, “The French Broad,” UNC-Wilmington’s Philip Gerard uses a river journey to tell a series of stories. Gerard’s “Down the Wild Cape Fear: A River Journey through the Heart of North Carolina” takes readers from where the Deep and Haw Rivers meet to form the Cape Fear, all the way to Bald Head Island where it flows into the Atlantic Ocean. (July 11, 13, 17)
D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch,” which airs Sundays at noon and Thursdays at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV.