Book Report: Late summer reading list

We’re now into the dog days of summer, that sweaty slide into autumn.

Maybe you’re hugging the AC unit, waiting out the heat and looking for a little light reading to pass the time. Or, since school starts back next week, maybe you’re planing your own study list. Then again, with kids back in the classroom, it’s the perfect time to head to the coast for a quiet vacation — beach reads are a must.

With a slightly unwieldy stack of books on the A&E desk, we figure we have something for every late-summer reader.

Where has the summer gone? You’ve only just finished June’s to-do list. Your reading time consists of stop lights and grocery store checkout lines.
• Mrs. Darcy and The Blue-Eyed Stranger by Lee Smith: Hillsborough, N.C.-based author published this collection of short stories last year; it recently came out in paperback. Characters include Karen, who starts speaking in tongues the same year her father has a nervous breakdown; Nova (named for the car because she was conceived in a drive-in) who marries “above her station;” and Alice Scully, a feisty senior who lives in a nursing home and is having a passionate affair with a Holocaust expert who is fast losing his memory.

You’ve spent your entire summer indoors, shunning the sunlight and working on your pallor.
• Dracula In Love by Karen Essex: This historical novel, set in London in 1890, tells the story of Count Dracula from the perspective of Mina Murray Harker, the beguiling young woman with who the infamous vampire becomes obsessed.

You’ve spent your summer in a blur of music festivals, from LEAF to Bonnaroo, and you still haven’t readjusted to showing indoors or sleeping in a bed.
• The Night Train by Clyde Edgerton: Known for his hilarious books (Walking Across Egypt, Killer Diller and others), Wilmington, N.C.-based author Clyde Edgerton just published this tale of ‘60s-era teens Dwayne Hallston and Larry Lime who dream of musician stardom — Dwayne wants to land on a local TV show, Larry wants to play piano like Thelonious Monk.

It’s time to get back into study mode, and you’d like to polish up on your local history.
• An Unexpected Guest by Bruce E. Johnson: Local historian, craftsman, columnist and Arts & Crafts expert Bruce Johnson spins the tale of the Pink Lady, the pink-colored specter said to haunt the halls of Asheville’s Grove Park Inn. Part historical conjecture, part ghost story,  An Unexpected Guest is both smart and spooky.

You plan to get some serious R and R and R (Rest and Recuperation and Reading) — and some sand between your toes for good measure.
• Game of Secrets by Dawn Tripp: As a child, Jane’s father disappeared without a trace — until his scull, complete with a bullet hole — was discovered on a river bank. Now, 50 years later, Jane must discover who killed her father since her own daughter has become romantically involved with the son of Ada, the prime suspect.

• Your garden overflows and you’re on the daily picnic plan with tomato sandwiches, cucumber salad and mint iced tea.
• The Widower’s Tale by Julia Glass: A national bestseller and recently out in paperback, The Widower’s Tale tells of retiree Percy Darling who is perfectly happy with his solitary life, until he is persuaded to let a local preschool move into his barn.

You’re a teen. You’re tired of swimming, sunning and sweating. You need something to do between now and the start of the school year.
• The Magnolia League by Katie Crouch: Part-time South Carolina resident Katie Crouch had a hit in her novel Men and Dogs; she’s also pens novels for the YA crowd. Released earlier this season, The Magnolia League is an engrossing story about 16 year-old Alexandra who is forced to move to spooky Savannah, Ga., where she takes her place as a member of a debutant society that hides some dark secrets.


Thanks for reading through to the end…

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About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall has lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. She is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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