Authors

Here's my review of another knockout debut novel. This one ran recently in the Cox Ohio newspapers:

Following the economic downturn of 2008 Samuel Fromartz found that his opportunities to continue to earn his living as a freelance writer were dwindling. Undaunted, he turned his problem into an opportunity. Fromartz had a long standing interest in baking bread. In this interview he describes how he soon found himself in Paris searching for the best loaves, the tastiest baguettes that he could discover. He ate a lot of bread while he was in France. Later on he went there again to observe a baker who was making loaves the way they used to be made many centuries ago. 

Some of us read horror novels because we want to feel scared without having to worry about our fears. Then there's a genre of novels that are so gnarly and tough that they could make  readers scream. Our screams would be sympathetic ones because the characters in these stories can elicit our emotions. As they go about the gritty business of their tattered lives we might feel like screaming just to release some of the tensions these tales can build up. Sometimes life isn't pretty. We know that. That's why we read books about these kinds of things.

Now and then a book will come along that is so darned wonderful I can hardly believe it. Neverhome by Laird Hunt is just such a book. Here's my review that ran in the Cox Ohio newspapers:

One of the great pleasures that can be obtained from reading works of fiction are the joys of discovering books and writers that were previously unknown to us. Recently, an acquaintance of mine said that I might like a new novel called Neverhome by Laird Hunt. I had never heard of this writer.

The Kent State University Press recently reissued a new edition of Robert Fogarty's classic study of a religious sect, the House of David, a once thriving community based in Benton Harbor, Michigan. In "The Righteous Remnant - the House of David" Fogarty traces the origins of this group all the way back to the 17th Century in what was known as the "Anglo-Israelite millennial tradition" and in the prophecies of a mystic named Joanna Southcott.

Ted Rall went to Afghanistan shortly after the United States invaded the country. He was with a group of journalists-during that time things were quite dangerous there. Some of them never made it back home. 

Two fifteen year-old girls are feeling bored. It is a summer night in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn, which is right on the waterfront. These two girls, June and Val, are close friends but their friendship appears to be fraying. One of them is more precocious than the other. That night they decide to set out on an adventure, just the two of them. Things get out of hand and something tragic occurs.

After much deliberation I have decided to declare 2014 to be The Year of the Debut Novel. Every year I compile a list of my favorite fiction and non-fiction titles to share with readers of the Cox Ohio newspapers. I was going through my fiction stack and realized that half the books I'm considering to be my favorites from the past year are debuts. Now Smith Henderson's superb first novel "Fourth of July Creek" has landed upon that select stack. Wow, what a book!

Richard M. Nixon fascinates us. He rose to the pinnacle of political power in 1968 when he was elected President of the United States of America by a narrow margin in a closely contested race in which he defeated Hubert Humphrey. In 1972 he won by a landslide in defeating George McGovern. He didn't get much of a chance to enjoy that resounding reelection victory. The event that ultimately led to Nixon's downfall had already taken place, a break-in at the offices of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. 

Beth Macy is a journalist. She has a nose for the big story. She found one a few years ago. This story was so big that she decided to write a book about it. Here's my review which ran in the Cox Ohio newspapers:

One of this summer’s hottest books is by a writer originally from Urbana. “Factory Man” by Beth Macy came out on July 15 — it is already a New York Times best-seller. Bear in mind that this is her first book.

Pages