Holidazed by Tracy Curtis

I got my Christmas present early this year: an advance copy of Tracy Curtis’s Holidazed. It’s a collection of 30 holiday essays by the Charlotte Observer Humor Columnist, and it will be for sale locally at Park Road Books. Definitely check it out if you’re looking for a good girlfriend gift. Christmas. It conjures up wholesome, happy images, doesn’t it? Pink-cheeked tots jumping in delight in front of a beautifully tinseled tree; a picturesque colonial home, adrift in snow and festooned with lights; a fat man in red, munching homemade cookies and distributing cheer. Families and food and alcohol. What could possibly go wrong? Well, nothing, if you’re me. My holidays are perfect. But it dawns

Interview with Dolen Perkins-Valdez, author of Balm

A few weeks ago, I spoke with award-winning author Dolen Perkins-Valdez, whose second novel, Balm, is a lovely, lyrical work set in Chicago just after the close of the Civil War. The novel examines age-old issues of race and class, following the stories of three people trying to reconstruct their shattered post-war lives in the midst of a similarly shattered nation: Madge, a freeborn Tennessean; Sadie, a newly widowed white woman from Pennsylvania; and Hemp, a formerly enslaved man whose wife Annie has been missing since she was torn away from him in Kentucky. All of them are transplanted to Chicago during a time of tremendous national turmoil, each with his or her own personal (and metaphor

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