Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

Beyond Belles

Cathy Holton’s novel delivers another sharp look at the interior lives of aging debutantes

Four college roommates reunite some twenty years later for a beach trip where old wounds resurface, secrets are revealed, and decisions get made that will change their lives. Sound familiar? It should. This is not remotely a new plotline for so-called “women’s novels,” but Chattanooga resident Cathy Holton brings a depth, humor, and warmth to Beach Trip that make this novel more than just a beach read.

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Never Can Say Goodbye

Becca Stevens explains why hearts are meant to be broken

On the topic of grief, Becca Stevens is wise, ruthless, mystified, and tender. Story after story supports the arc of her impossibly simple message: we are never alone. Love beats death every time.

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Hot Popcorn, Cold War

Ronald Kidd’s new Young Adult novel takes kids to the movies during the red scare

The 1950s was a scary time, full of drop drills, McCarthyism, and Soviet boasts. It was also the golden age of horror movies. Aliens, mutants, zombies, and werewolves filled theater screens. Coincidence? Not in Ronald Kidd‘s The Year of the Bomb, a young-adult novel that explores the angst of growing up surrounded by real and imagined horror.

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A Tennessee Literary Lion Roars Again

After forty years, Peter Taylor’s Collected Stories remains relevant

Peter Taylor (1917-1994) is usually referred to as a writer of place; his settings are most often the lower Ohio Valley and, as he called it, “the long green hinterland that is Tennessee.” But Taylor’s themes—change, evil, and political and private morality—are universal. A new edition of The Collected Stories of Peter Taylor, first published in 1969, reminds us of the author’s position in the pantheon of American short story writers and makes a powerful argument for his continued relevance in a changing world where relationships, both to place and to people, are more complex than they seem.

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In Praise of Doubt

Grappling with ethical and existential dilemmas (religion optional)

David Dark—a schoolteacher, scholar and evangelical gadfly—urges his readers to question everything, including the whole of orthodox religion and even their belief in God. Consequently, although his new book was clearly conceived with a Christian audience in mind, Dark’s thoughtful iconoclasm invites anyone to, as he puts it, “submit everything we’re up to, at work and at play, to the discipline of sacred questioning.”

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Engaging Ontogeny—and Animal Sex

Michael Sims discusses biological and literary creativity

Where do babies come from? It may be a child’s question, but the answer is far from simple, especially if we consider the baby-making processes of the whole animal kingdom, as Michael Sims does in his companion to the National Geographic Channel’s television special of the same name, In the Womb: Animals. It features ultrasound images of fetal animals that are so detailed and vivid it’s almost hard to believe they aren’t simulations.

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