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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Nashville: Scenes from the New American South

I have to say this: Been there – to Nashville – done that, got the tee-shirt. As well as a large coffee mug from Opryland. But that was a long, long time ago when I was living in Kentucky and ventured further south with fifty or so Girl Scouts. As we toured the city, attended the Ol’ Opry, ate ice cream at Bobbie’s Dairy Dip, many memories were made. And many, many times since then I’ve often thought I’d like to return to once again savor the unique flavor of an atypical American city.

With a forward by historian Jon Meacham and text by award-winning novelist Ann Patchett, Nashville: Scenes from the New American South is essentially a picture-book. No, it is not for children. Far from it. It is, however, yet another stunningly crafted publication by Harper Design [an imprint of HarperColins] that features the current essences of Nashville, Tennessee, an historical Southern icon that was, is, and forever will be a mecca for artists, filmmakers, and, of course, musicians.

A picture, as the old adage goes, is worth a thousand words. With 174 black and white and full-color photographs by Heidi Ross, there are more than enough to depict Nashville in all her glory. Slowly sifting through the book, they brought back memories of my one and only visit there. But, more importantly, the photographs delve into the heart and soul of a city that is both old and new. Add Patchett’s captions that include wonderful tidbits, and you have the epitome of an armchair traveler’s delight. Nashville at your fingertips without having to leave the living room.

However, let’s go back to Meacham’s introduction. In it, he focusses upon John Lewis, a civil rights leader and Congressman from Georgia, who, while in college in Nashville, learned patience while to endure unimaginable hate for a large cause. Lewis, the youngest speaker during the March on Washington, helped to end Jim Crow, thus desegregating Nashville, once a bastion of bigotry and racism. Meacham notes that during a recent visit, Lewis couldn’t help but wonder at how the city has changed. For the better, of course, as the historian goes on to explain. His eloquence expounding upon the old meeting the new, is a must-read; best not cited here.

A fan of Ann Patchett, I was intrigued by her crisp commentaries that noted trivia that capture the subtleties of life in a city filled with diversity and commonality. As only a native-born and current resident of Nashville could write. Big Al’s Deli & Catering, “a classic spot for Southern cooking…” juxtaposed with Al Gore at the War Memorial Auditorium where he heard the results of the 2000 presidential election; some of the two-million visitors in Cleveland Park who came to see the 2017 solar eclipse path of totality; the history of the Fisk Jubilee Singers; as well as that of the Woodland Studios…

It’s all here. Nashville in all aspects of her glory, uniquely celebrated by the talented triptych of Meacham, Patchett, and Ross. A fitting tribute to and for a unique treasure of the new American South.

Enjoy the read!

12:25 pm est          Comments

Friday, November 9, 2018

Forever and a Day

I was first introduced to James Bond in third year Latin by our teacher, Mr. Miller, who was not only a whiz at languages but had with a wicked sense of humor, and just happened to be a devotée of Ian Fleming, the author of the iconic fourteen spy novels, as well as the children’s classic, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

During the summers, Mr. Miller translated James Bond novels and during the school year, assigned translating of them as a requirement for passing the course. His belief was that Latin was NOT a dead, but a fun language; a vital foundation of the English language, as well as English literature.

Needless to say, as I spent hours reading the Latin, I was enthralled by Ian Fleming and his now famous hero, Bond. James Bond. I went on to read all of Fleming’s works, as well as watch, several times, all of the subsequent movies. Sean Connery being, for me, the best James there ever was. Or ever will be. During the mid-1960s I eagerly anticipated each yearly release of yet another novel and was, needless to say, quite saddened by Ian Fleming’s demise in 1964. No longer will James live on the written page…

But, wait… he has once again been resurrected in all his glory in the brilliant Forever and a Day: A James Bond Novel by Anthony Horowitz. Thank you, Jane at Harper Collins, for sending this newly released [this past Tuesday] fabulous thriller. You have restored my faith in all things Bond. James Bond…

It only took me two short rainy afternoons, but, oh, how much I enjoyed Horowitz’s novel and the very first of Bond’s adventures that transported me along with him to the Riviera of the early 1950s to thwart a large drug smuggling operation. Capitalizing upon and using excepts from Fleming’s outlines for an unrealized television series as well as notes and original, heretofore unpublished writings, Horowitz has admirably carried on the Bond tradition, delivering yet another edge-of-one’s-seat thriller that serves the spy-vs-spy genre admirably well. Especially since it’s the prequel to Casino Royale… And, also, because it answers many mysteries of one of American readers’ most famous literary icons.

For one, did you know that James Bond’s supposed “unique” 007 license-to-kill designation is not original to him? It was assigned to him by M after his predecessor was murdered in the south of France – coincidentally trying to solve the same case to which Bond is assigned. For two, Bond’s proclivity for gin martinis shaken not stirred as well as his preferred Turkish-blend tobacco cigarettes, were adopted from his first love – a one absolutely beautiful Madame Sixtine – while working on this first 007 caper. And, for three, in Forever and a Day, he is young, savvy, bold and brace; yet to be fully seasoned by subsequent years in Fleming’s fictional biographies.

A few comments: While M is a man in the Fleming books, I loved Judi Dench as M in the movies. Hence, in Horowitz’s novel, I read M as a woman, wishing that the author had carried on the modern-day cinematic tradition rather than following Fleming’s. Secondly, I would have liked more explanation, besides what is in the end notes, of what was originally Fleming’s writing and what part of the fiction was created by Horowitz. While he is commissioned by the Fleming estate to write a second Bond novel (the first is Trigger Mortis), based upon Fleming’s materials, I would have liked to have known exactly his original/supplemental plot lines. Although, all in all, to give this author his credit due, this novel as written is a sterling example of the genre.

An absolute page turner… as well as an eye-opener, Horowitz’s Bond novel is as as exciting and fast-paced as the original Fleming novels. Coupling the quick-paced writing and fast action with its subtle commentaries on American politics and bald-faced historical facts (that a few readers will find comfortable) has to be the formula for success. If not a top spot on the best-seller lists. In short, it’s a great read.

One which any and all Bond fans will thoroughly enjoy. And then some.

Enjoy the read!

1:47 pm est          Comments

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June J. McInerney, the host of this Literary Blog, is an author, poet, and librettist. Her currently published works include a novel, a book of spiritual inspirations, two volumes of poetry, stories for children (of all ages) and a variety of children's musicals. Her titles include:
Colonial Theatre 
Phoenix Hose, Hook & Ladder: A Novel of Phoenixville during World War I
Columbia Hotel: A Novel of Phoenixville during the Early 1900s
the Schuylkill Monster: A Novel of Phoenixville in 1978
The Prisoner's Portrait: A Novel of Phoenxville during World War II
Rainbow in the Sky
Meditations for New Members

Adventures of Oreigh Ogglefont
The Basset Chronicles.
Cats of Nine Tales
Spinach Water: A Collection of Poems
Exodus Ending: A Collection of More Spiritual Poems

We Three Kings

Beauty and the Beast


Noah's Rainbow

Peter, Wolf, and Red Riding Hood



Originally from the New York metropolitan area, June currently lives near Valley Forge Park in Pennsylvania with her constant and loving companions, FrankieBernard and Sebastian Cat. She is currently working on her sixth novel.

June's novels can be purchased at amazon.com, through Barnes and Noble,
at the Historical Society of the Phoenixville Area,
the Gateway Pharmacy in Phoenixvile, PA

For more information about her musicals, which are also available on amazon.com,