Danger of Love by Maryam Tabibzadeh (broadcast 9-8-2014) Marjan is the daughter of a Kashvili chieftain, the most powerful man in their province in Persia. Beautiful and educated, she was married at age nine to a rich merchant who is absent for months at a time. Russ is a British Christian missionary doctor stationed in Shiraz just as World War II is breaking out.
Auto Biography by Earl Swift (broadcast) A classic ’57 Chevy, in wretched shape. Hassled by banks, local officials, the FBI, and his own volatile demons, the Chevy’s thirteenth owner embarks on a mission to save the car and preserve the long record of human experience it carries in its steel and upholstery.
Written for both gearheads and Sunday drivers, Earl Swift’s fifth book of narrative nonfiction charts the shifting hopes and fortunes of the people who’ve gripped the car’s steering wheel, throwing a light on the sturdy resilience of the American Dream and our abiding relationship with the automobile. Find out more at earlswift.com
The Committee on Town Happiness by Alan Michael Parker (broadcast 6-9-2014) The Committee on Town Happiness consists of ninety-nine linked stories about disappearing townsfolk. Air balloons are launched to search for the missing, galas proliferate, laws are imposed ad absurdum, and a guerilla group forms as the Committee shapes the future of small-town America in this biting examination of modern bureaucracy. Find out more at alanmichaelparker.com
My Accidental Jihad by Krista Bremer (broadcast 5-26-2014) From acquaintances to lovers to a couple facing an unexpected pregnancy, this is the story of two people – a middle class American raised in Southern California and a Muslim raised by illiterate parents in an impoverished Libyan fishing village – who made a commitment to one another without forsaking their own identities.
Fascinating, often funny, and profoundly moving, this meditation on tolerance explores what it means to open our hearts to another culture and, just as important, to embrace our own. It is Krista’s unexpected struggle to reach beyond herself, her accidental jihad. Find out more at kristabremer.com/book
Guests on Earth by Lee Smith(broadcast 5-12-2014) A writer at the height of her craft, Lee Smith has created, through her masterful melding of fiction and fact, a mesmerizing novel about a world apart – a time and a place where creativity and passion, theory and medicine, fact and fiction, tragedy and transformation, are luminously intertwined. Find out more at leesmith.com/guests
Pickles and Preserves by Andrea Weigl (broadcast 4-14-14) Andrea, food writer for Raleigh News and Observer, defines her year by her canning sessions, from Jerusalem Artichoke Relish in winter to spring Strawberry Preserves, summer pickled and brandies peaches and later fall Fig Preserves.
With complete, easy-to-follow instructions and troubleshooting tips, she highlights the regional flair that southern cooks bestow on this traditional art of survival. The fifty classic and inventive recipes from Dilly Beans to Refrigerator Honeysuckle Jam should tempt old pros at canning as well as newbies. Also nice to know for those concerned with food safety the risk of botulism, which scares many people away from canning, is only a concern when preparing meats, poultry, seafood, and low-acid vegetables. This book contains no such recipes. I am definitely going to try the Strawberry Freezer Jam!
Dirtbags by Eryk Pruitt (broadcast 4-7-14) The blame for a county-wide murder spree lies at the feet of three people broken by a dying mill town: Calvin, a killer; London, a cook; and Rhonda, the woman who loves them both. Neither they, nor the reader, see the storm brewing until it’s too late in this Southern Gothic noir (or Southern neo-noir) that adds a transgressive, chicken-fried twist to a story ripped straight from the pages of a true crime novel or episode of Dateline NBC.
Eryk states, “If there’s one thing I want to do, it’s tell a good story. Horror, noir, suspense…film, stage, page. To me all that matters is the story. I’ll tell you one at the bar over a bourbon or in a packed movie house during a film festival. Life is short; in the end, all that remains are the stories.”
Find out more about this story of serial killers in training that is rapidly gathering devoted readers at erykpruitt.com
Two Dates a Week, Rekindling the Spark by Marion O’Malley and Art Scherer (broadcast 3-31-14) Over the course of their 30-year marriage, Art Scherer and Marion O’Malley had talked with therapists, both individually and as a couple, only to have mixed results. Then there was something else new when they became “empty nesters” and their youngest child went away to college. This professional couple experienced a new low in their relationship to the point of considering divorce.
Instead they made a pact with each other to begin a “scavenger hut” for tools to rekindle the spark in their relationship. “We agreed to really try to not focus so much on our disagreements and differences,” says Marion, “but instead, to make a regular effort to see each other with new eyes, and to date each other again.” “We all know what good date behavior is,” explains Art. “If we weren’t on our best date behavior on our first dates, we’d never have a second date.” Their thought was that they had done it before and they could do it again.The resulting self-help process was codified into this small, fun, easy-reading and inspiring book as well as, they confess, saving their marriage.
Little Colored Girls Like to Wear Pearls Too! by Janice Mack Guess (broadcast 3-24-2014) A native of Winston-Salem, NC, Janice moved to Durham with her family when she was ten years old. An alumnus of the legendary Hillside High School and NC Central University, she is retired from GlaxoSmith Kline with thirty years in the pharmaceutical industry and currently works at NCCU as an administrator. After participating in a race relations forum sponsored by the Pauli Murray Project of the Duke Human Rights Center in the summer of 2010 Janice began telling her story of how she, along with her brother and sisters, were the first black children to desegregate Brogden Junior High School in Durham, NC. In response to the enthusiasm and encouragement she received from listeners she has put her memories of that chaotic and bewildering time into this small but powerful book.
In the introduction Janice states, “I am pleased to offer these stories to you, a new generation of young people who face different but equally serious challenges. Perhaps your journey can be made smoother if you know and appreciate how hard my generation fought to break the chains of racism and prejudice.”
Ghost Train to New Orleans by Mur Lafferty (broadcast 3-3-2014) Mur Lafferty is a writer, podcast producer, gamer, geek, and martial artist. Her books includeThe Shambling Guide to New York City, Ghost Train to New Orleans, Playing For Keeps, Marco and the Red Granny, and The Afterlife Series. She is the host of the award winning podcast I Should Be Writing, and the host of the Angry Robot Books Podcast. She is the winner of the 2013 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. In the newest of the Shambling Guides Zoë Norris (introduced in The Shambling Guide to New York City) who writes travel books for America’s community of supernatural entities, takes us on a ghostly ride to New Orleans. Zoë is human, but her boss is a vampire, her best friend is a death goddess, and at least one of her coworkers wants to eat her. A must for armchair travelers with a taste for the bizarre with a humorous twist.Find out more at murverse.com