Don Noble

Program Host: Book Reviews

Dr. Noble is the host of APR's book review series as well as host of BOOKMARK which airs on Alabama Public Television.  A widely published scholar specializing in American and Southern literature, Dr. Noble received the Eugene Current-Garcia Award as Alabama's distinguished literary scholar for the year 2000 and was nominated for a Regional Emmy Award in 2006 and 2011.  In addition he is on the planning committee of several literary conferences.

Dr. Noble's book reviews air during Morning Edition and feature works primarily by Alabama writers.  His reviews focus on why these writers are concerned with their particular subjects and how they succeed or fail  in addressing issues of concern to Alabama readers.

“The South Never Plays Itself: A Film Buff’s Journey Through the South on Screen”
Amazon

 

“The South Never Plays Itself: A Film Buff’s Journey Through the South on Screen” 

Author: Ben Beard 

Publisher: NewSouth Books 

Pages: 288 

Price: $28.95 (Cloth) 

A Comprehensive Look at Films Set in the South from “GWTW” to “Gump” 

“Playing the Devil”
Barnes & Noble

 

“Playing the Devil” 

Author: R. J. Lee 

Publisher: Kensington Books  

Pages: 291 

Price: $15.95 (paper) 

Bridge-based Mystery Creates Multiple Suspects for Murdered Malefactor 

 

“Words to Die For” 

Author: Lynn Kostoff 

Publisher: New Pulp Press (Reissue) 

Pages: 382 

Price: $15.95 (Paper) 

Dark Novel Explores the Ethics of Damage Control PR 

In the 1980s, Lynn Kostoff was an instructor at UA, then held the post of writer-in-residence at Francis Marion College in South Carolina for 32 years. Recently he retired. 

“His Very Best: Jimmy Carter, A Life”
Amazon

 

“His Very Best: Jimmy Carter, A Life” 

Author: Jonathan Alter 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster 

Pages: 800 

Price: $37.50 (Hardcover) 

Jimmy Carter Biography Reveals Complicated, Confident, Capable Former President 

“I’ll Be Here for You: Diary of a Town”
Amazon

 

“I’ll Be Here for You: Diary of a Town” (linked stories) 

Author: Robert McKean 

Publisher: Livingston Press 

Pages: 218 

Price: $25.95 (Hardcover) 

Prize-Winning Collection Tells Compelling Stories of Small-Town Life 

“Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir”
Amazon

 

“Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir” 

Author: Natasha Trethewey 

Publisher: Ecco New York 

2020 

Pages: 213 

Price: $27.99 (Hardcover) 

Former U.S. Poet Laureate’s Memoir of Murder, Grief, and Buried Emotions 

Natasha Trethewey, known primarily as a poet, won the Pulitzer Prize for her third volume of poetry, “Native Guard,” in 2006 and served as Poet Laureate of the United States from 2012 to 2014. 

“The Wife Upstairs”
Amazon

 

“The Wife Upstairs” 

Author: Rachel Hawkins 

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press  

Pages: 304 

Price: $27.99 (Hardcover) 

Classic British Novel Re-envisioned in Mountain Brook Is Full of Surprises 

Two is a coincidence. Three we might call a movement. 

In the last few years three Alabama novelists have struck out in new directions with really astonishing results. 

“Saving America’s Amazon: The Threat to Our Nation’s Most Biodiverse River System”
Amazon

 

“Saving America’s Amazon: The Threat to Our Nation’s Most Biodiverse River System”

Author: Ben Raines 

Foreword by E. O. Wilson  

Publisher: NewSouth Books 

Pages: 127 

Price: $35.00 (Hardcover) 

“Atty At Law”
Amazon

 

“Atty At Law” 

Author: Tim Lockette 

Publisher: Seven Stories Press 

Pages: 239 

Price: $18.95 (Hardcover) 

Tim Lockette of Jacksonville, Alabama is a journalist, not a lawyer as one might expect from the title. This is his debut novel and I truly hope the first of many. 

“Waste: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret”
Amazon

 

“Waste: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret” 

Author: Catherine Coleman Flowers 

Foreword by Bryan Stevenson 

Publisher: The New Press 

Pages: 206 

Price: $25.99 (Hardcover) 

“Waste” is both a study of the horrific sanitation problems in rural Lowndes County and a memoir, the story of a very determined Alabama woman.  

“The Exiles” by
Christina Baker Kline

“The Exiles”

Author: Christina Baker Kline

Publisher: Custom House, William Morrow

Pages: 371

Price: $27.99 (Hardcover)

Kline’s Latest Tale Takes on Crime and Punishment in Australia 

Christina Baker Kline is, to begin with, a fine storyteller. “The Exiles” is that rarest of novels, a true page-turner. The action moves along; the reader feels himself to be in the hands of a professional.

Of Kline’s seven previous novels I had read and reviewed two and they are, praise be, not the same.

“Down Along with That Devil’s Bones: A Reckoning with Monuments, Memory, and the Legacy of White Supremacy”
Amazon

“Down Along with That Devil’s Bones: A Reckoning with Monuments, Memory, and the Legacy of White Supremacy”

Author: Connor Towne O’Neill

Publisher: Algonquin Books

Chapel Hill

2020

Pages: 272

Price: $26.95 (Hardcover)

Connor O’Neill, a recent graduate of the U of A MFA program, may be known to Alabamians for his work on the podcast “White Lies.” This is his first book and it is a solid and timely assessment of the history of Confederate monuments, focusing on those dedicated to Nathan Bedford Forrest.

“Like Light, Like Music”
Amazon

“Like Light, Like Music”

Author: Lana K. W. Austin

Publisher: West Virginia University Press

Pages: 289

Price: $21.99 (Paperback)

“Exile’s Return to a Place of Violence and Prejudice But Also Unlikely Wonders”

Lana Austin teaches writing at UAH. “Like Light, Like Music” is her first novel and it is impressive and unusual.

“The Golfer’s Carol: A Novel”
Amazon

 

“The Golfer’s Carol: A Novel” 

Author: Robert Bailey 

Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons 

Pages: 226 

Price: $24.00 (Hardcover) 

Despairing Father Visited by Ghosts of Golfers Past in Moving Novel  

The title of this novel, released just before Christmas, leads the reader in the direction of Charles Dickens’s classic—the full title of which is “A Christmas Carol, In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas.” 

“Fearfully and Wonderfully Made: A Novel”
Amazon

 

“Fearfully and Wonderfully Made: A Novel” 

Author: Donald Jordan 

Publisher: Negative Capability Press 

Pages: 190 

Price: $18.99 (Paper) 

Novel Set in Columbus, Georgia Evokes a 1940s Childhood 

I probably shouldn’t say so, because it may start a cascade of similar letters, but a letter from the small press Negative Capability in Mobile persuaded me to have a look at this novel.  

“A Garland of Bones” by Carolyn Haines
Amazon

 

“A Garland of Bones” 

Author: Carolyn Haines 

Publisher: Minotaur Books 

Pages: 323 

Price: $25.99 (Hardcover) 

“Festivities and Folly in Cozy Christmas Mystery” 

“A Garland of Bones” is Carolyn Haines’ twenty-second “Bones” book and I believe her first specifically Christmas-themed mystery. 

“The Killer’s Shadow”
Amazon

 

“The Killer’s Shadow” 

Authors: John Douglas and Mark Olshaker

Publisher: Dey Street  

Pages: 304 

Price: $21.00 (paper) 

“Chilling True-Crime Story of Alabama-Born Serial Killer” 

After years of watching crime drama on television, we think we know what an FBI profiler does. 

A Good Life by William Cobb
Amazon

 

“A Good Life: Book Two of The Lily Trilogy” 

Author: William Cobb 

Publisher: Livingston Press 

Pages: 180 

Price: $18.95 (Paper) 

“Academic Satire from the Late Alabama Novelist William Cobb” 

The World through the Dime Store Door: A Memoir
Amazon

 

“The World through the Dime Store Door: A Memoir” 

Author: Aileen Kilgore Henderson 

Publisher: University of Alabama Press 

Pages: 135 

Price: $24.95 (Hardcover) 

Any discussion of Aileen Kilgore Henderson will begin with considering some amazing numbers. 

This new book, her eighth, is being published in Henderson’s ninety-ninth year. 

“You Ought To Do a Story About Me: Addiction, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Endless Quest for Redemption”
Amazon

  

“You Ought To Do a Story About Me: Addiction, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Endless Quest for Redemption” 

Author: Ted Jackson 

Publisher: Dey St. / Harper Collins 

2020 

Pages: 329 

Price: $27.99 (Hardcover) 

“The Forever Wish of Middy Sweet: A Story of What Might Have Been”
Amazon

 

 

"The Forever Wish of Middy Sweet: A Story of What Might Have Been” 

Author: Terry Kay 

Publisher: Mercer University Press 

Pages: 328 

Price: $24.00 (Hardback) 

 

“Lost Girls: Short Stories” 

Author: Ellen Birkett Morris 

Publisher: TouchPoint Press 

Pages: 132 

Price: $13.99 (Paper) 

“Lost Girls” is a debut volume of 17 stories, about 7 pages each, with each one an examination of a particular turning point or crisis in the life of a female protagonist. Some stories are of childhood. In others, the protagonist might be in her seventies. 

Hieroglyphics by Jill McCorkle
Amazon

 

“Hieroglyphics” 

Author: Jill McCorkle 

Publisher: Algonquin Books 

Pages: 309 

Price: $26.95 (Hardcover) 

Many, many years ago on an elementary school field trip to the New York Museum of Natural History, I was stopped in my tracks by the Egyptian hieroglyphics. I had a little notebook and pencil and was copying them, thinking that I could somehow, later, figure out at least a part of what this writing from the past meant. 

Stay Hungry
Amazon

 

“Stay Hungry” 

Author: Charles Gaines 

Publisher: Doubleday 

Pages: 244 

Price: Out of print: purchase used 

Charles Gaines is a professional, hardworking writer with about 19 books, several movie scripts and 300 magazine articles to his credit and although he lives north of Birmingham half the year-the other half in Nova Scotia—he is not seen much around Alabama literary world. 

Barnes and Noble

 

“Alabama Rivers: A Celebration and Challenge” 

Author: William G. Deutsch 

Publisher: Mindbridge Press  

Price: $27.00 (Paper) 

Pages: 227 

“Alabama Rivers” is one of the many books published in cooperation with the Alabama Bicentennial Commission. This volume is beautifully and profusely illustrated with photographs, maps, charts and drawings.  

The Devil's Bones
Amazon

 

“The Devil’s Bones” 

Author: Carolyn Haines 

Publisher: Minotaur Books, St. Martin’s 

Pages: 440 

Price: $26.99 (Hardcover) 

Here it is: the twenty-first Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery by Carolyn Haines. She writes them fast—more than one a year—but she doesn’t stint. This mystery is 440 pages—long for a detective story, but what’s the hurry? 

The Summer House
Amazon

 

“The Summer House” 

Author: Lauren K. Denton 

Publisher: Thomas Nelson 

Pages: 368 

Price: $26.99 (Hardcover) 

Only a few months ago Lauren Denton published her third novel, “Glory Road,” and now we have her newest, “The Summer House,” released in June as a summer read. 

“Underwater: How Our American Dream of Homeownership Became a Nightmare”
Amazon

 

“Underwater: How Our American Dream of Homeownership Became a Nightmare” 

Author: Ryan Dezember 

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books 

“Fancy Strut: A Novel”
Amazon

 

“Fancy Strut: A Novel” 

Author: Lee Smith 

Publisher: Ballantine Books  

Pages: 343 

Price: $11.00 (Paper) 

Stealing Our Democracy: How the Political Assassination of a Governor Threatens Our Nation”
Amazon

 

“Stealing Our Democracy: How the Political Assassination of a Governor Threatens Our Nation” 

Author: Don Siegelman 

Publisher: NewSouth Books  

Pages: 320 

Price: $28.95 (Cloth) 

As his second trial was coming to an end, Governor Siegelman wanted to testify on his own behalf. His lawyers, certain the state had not made its case and the governor would be acquitted, persuaded him not to. 

Siegelman’s brother Les disagreed. 

Pages