Season of the Dragonflies by Sarah Creech

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Sarah Creech’s first novel, Season of the Dragonflies (William Morrow 2014), is a beautiful book and mesmerizing story. The story is about the Lenore women and their perfumery in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and it is, as the synopsis promises, “a beguiling tale of practical magic, old secrets, and new love.”  Continue reading

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Rivers by Michael Farris Smith

RiversImagine for a moment the devastation brought about by a particularly bad hurricane.  Imagine if, in the wake of that first hurricane, another one headed in just a few days later.  And another.  And another.  Imagine that this happened for so long, that things got so bad, the government wrote off an entire section of the country.  Imagine the kinds of people who would stay behind in a no-man’s land battered routinely by storms of ever-increasing size.  This is the world of Rivers, the remarkable debut novel from Michael Farris Smith, out next month from Simon and Schuster. Continue reading

Galilee by Clive Barker

GalileeWhen I was 16, I didn’t think there was a better writer than Clive Barker.  Weaveworld and The Great and Secret Show were among my favorite books.  I spent three or four months immersed in the thousand page glory of Imagica.  My first experience reading short stories for pleasure, rather than as a requirement for an English class, came in the form of Barker’s Books of Blood.  All of that is to say, when Galilee came out in 1998, I was well-versed in Barker’s unique blend of horror and fantasy.  I bought the hardcover version as soon as I could scrape together enough allowance money.  That night, I sat down to read what would surely be Barker’s grandest achievement.  I couldn’t make it through twenty pages.

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The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom

One of my favorite personal belongings measures it. From the moment my eyes open, I’m consumed by it. You don’t have 5 minutes to snooze. 20 minutes in the shower, 20 for make-up, 20 for hair, 20 to pick out an outfit and get dressed. If I’m quick, maybe I can even pack my lunch today. It continues in the car, as I speak to other cars. Please quit driving so slow. Then I talk to myself. By 7:40, you should be on Germantown Parkway. If not, then you’ll be late. And it doesn’t get better once I get to work. Between waiting on the elevators, emails, meetings, daily activities, putting out fires, time (or the pressure of the lack thereof) is always driving me. I guess you could say I’m obsessed with time, as most people are. When I was younger, it couldn’t go fast enough. I can’t wait until I’m in my 20’s so I can live somewhere else, have freedom, go to college, have a career, get married, start a family. I wish time would go faster. My obsession with time grew even worse in graduate school, where I literally penciled out my entire day. I guess that should embarrass me. Even though I was extremely efficient, I do not remember feeling at peace very much. Continue reading

Larry McMurty’s The Last Picture Show

lastpictureshoThe Last Picture Show by Larry McMurty explores the journey from adolescence to adulthood in a small Texas town in the 50s. Sonny puts it best when he asks and subsequently responds, “Is growin’ up always miserable? Nobody seems to enjoy it much.”

I am a junior and senior English teacher at a small Mississippi high school and my students often ask me, “Do you miss high school?” My response is always no. Did I hate high school? No. Did I have fun? Yes. But would I willingly relive all of it? Again, I must answer no. If you asked me the same question about college, I might have a different answer, but by then I had worked through the perils of adolescence and was well on my way to exploring adulthood. Continue reading