Book and tea on the lawn

The James Boyd Book Club reads the work of North Carolina authors – past and present.

Meetings are on the third Tuesday of each month, September through May, at 2 pm in the Weymouth Library.

This discussion group is open to members and non-members alike.

Fall 2018-Spring 2019 Selections

Book cover by Wiley CashWiley Cash, The Last Ballad

18 September

A portrait of the labor organizer Ella May Wiggins movingly evokes a fraught era in US history.

Twelve times a week, twenty-eight-year-old Ella May Wiggins makes the two-mile trek to and from her job on the night shift at American Mill No. 2 in Bessemer City, North Carolina. While the dirty, hazardous job at the mill earns Ella May just nine dollars for seventy-two hours of work each week, it’s the only opportunity she has. Her husband has run off, and she must keep her four young children alive with whatever work she can find.

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Book Cover by Jill McCorkleJill McCorkle, Carolina Moon

16 October

Fulton, North Carolina, gets pretty quiet during the off season. Or at least it seems that way. At the town post office it’s so slow the postal clerk has time to hunt through the dead letter file for entertaining reading.

Out at nearby Ferris Beach, erosion is turning waterfront properties into underwater properties, wave by wave.

At the radio station, the local talk show host is late showing up so they’re running the “Swap Shop” show early: “If you’ve got something you’re itching to sell, something you mighta never woulda bought no way, then give us a call…”

And over on the wrong side of the tracks, Quee Purdy is warming up the aromatic massage oil.

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Philip Gerard, Dark of the Island

20 November

Nick Wolf is a public research specialist for NorthAm Oil Company, but he likes to think of himself as the company storyteller. Nick, who believes in the old-fashioned integrity of the people who run NorthAm, is sent to scout potential oil exploration/drilling sites to assess the political climate. His latest assignment sends him to Hatteras Island, on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Growing up, Nick’s grandmother used to whisper the name of the island “like a hissing curse that shouldn’t be spoken out loud.” Nick’s grandfather was said to have died on Hatteras during World War II, though he was mysteriously claimed as a fallen soldier by both the American and German armies. As soon as he arrives on the island, Nick is the victim of several suspicious accidents and begins receiving cryptic notes that lead him to surprising revelations about his grandfather. In the course of his research for NorthAm, Nick discovers that four families run everything and everyone is somehow connected. Even Julia Royal, the fascinating and frustrating woman who runs the boarding house where Nick is staying, is the granddaughter of perhaps the most powerful patriarch of the four families―Liam Royal, known as The Founder.

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James Boyd, Long Hunt

18 December

Gerald W. Johnson, Incredible Tale

15 January

Book Cover by Katy MungerKaty Munger, Better Off Dead

19 February

Meet Casey Jones — an unlicensed, no-nonsense private detective who hides 160 pounds of muscle with an in-your-face femme fatale style. She’s bold, she’s bad and, most of all she’s nobody’s fool. Underneath her wisecracking 100% Southern exterior, there beats a 14-carat heart with a definite soft spot for life’s losers. With the brains to take on any challenge and the guts to impose her own brand of justice, Casey Jones has what it takes to be your best friend or your very worst enemy. She wouldn’t be caught dead whining over a lousy boyfriend or asking for help. She’s too busy lifting weights, running off at the mouth and making doughnut runs for her overstuffed business partner, the larger-than-life Bobby D., a 360-pound Lothario whose little black book is almost as big as his appetite. With a stretch in a Florida pen behind her and no official PI license, Casey comes from nothing and has nothing to lose. She lives full speed ahead with a healthy respect for the screw ups of others. This series revolves around Casey and Bobby, as well as a cast of supporting players from all social strata. There’s lots of action, lots of humor, lots of local color.

The books are all set in or near North Carolina’s Research Triangle. The series is best described as irreverent and frequently bawdy — but not without its insights into human nature.

(Read more about Katy Munger.)

Book cover by Randall Kenan

Randall Kenan, Let the Dead Bury Their Dead

19 March

Kenan follows his first novel (Visitation of the Spirits, 1989) with a captivating, baroque history of fictional Tims Creek, North Carolina, whose citizens–both black and white–have experienced more than their share of unearthly wonders.

Tims Creek looks to outsiders like a dull North Carolina backwater settled by the descendants of slaves and slaveholders, now farmers, shop owners, factory workers, and general layabouts. But locals, as Kenan makes clear in the telling, know that nearly every dwelling in this fertile country houses a fascinating, if rarely flattering, tale. The Pickett house harbors the legend of three-year-old Clarence, who foretold his neighbors’ fate (whether or not they wanted to hear it) and communicated with the dead until they called him to join them at the age of five; the rundown Williams shack shelters young Dean Williams, who foolishly agreed to seduce the town’s richest black man in exchange for the promise of a job as a factory foreman; in the Pearsall home, a middle-aged mother unravels to the point of infanticide; and on her own front porch, old Maggie MacGowan Williams tries to come to terms with the fact of her beloved grandson’s homosexuality. In coloring in the background of a town founded by runaway slaves, sustained by hypocritical preachers and ambitious exiled intellectuals, and taken over by bloodless modern-day manipulators–a land in which the dead live side by side with the living and the good fraternize with evil as a matter of course–Kenan switches unpredictably from the seductive rhythms of traditional folk tales to a drier, more distanced narrative voice, and even, in the title story, to a playful takeoff of a scholarly oral history, complete with lengthy footnotes. A wildly uneven but always original portrait of a southern community–and a stimulating collection of tales by a courageous and humorous author.

(Kirkus Reviews)

Poetry by Jaki Shelton Green

Jaki Shelton Green, Dead on Arrival

16 April

(Jaki Shelton Green’s) poems issue from a persona that unflinchingly peers into the heart of darkness and foreboding and forges from it, in an inimitable idiom of folk, plain-speak and soul (and a brilliant patois all her own), a relentless belief that love and ancestry always prevail over heartache, that story is more important than recrimination, that language is a sacrament.

The documented and anecdotal feats of Jaki are legion. She is much beloved among North Carolina writers. She has unflinchingly stated that one of her key responsibilities in life is to mentor young African American student-writers, all young writers, really, and she has worn that mantle aggressively and with great determination.

(Read more from the NC Literary Hall of Fame.)

Book cover by Mary Kay Andrews

Mary Kay Andrews, Spring Fever

21 May

The New York Times bestselling author of Summer Rental delivers her delicious new escapist novel about small towns, old flames, and deep secrets

Annajane Hudgens truly believes she is over her ex-husband, Mason Bayless.  They’ve been divorced for four years, she’s engaged to a new, terrific guy, and she’s ready to leave the small town where she and Mason had so much history.  She is so over Mason that she has absolutely no problem attending his wedding to the beautiful, intelligent, delightful Celia.  But when fate intervenes and the wedding is called to a halt as the bride is literally walking down the aisle, Annajane begins to realize that maybe she’s been given a second chance.  Maybe everything happens for a reason.  And maybe, just maybe, she wants Mason back.  But there are secrets afoot in this small southern town.  On the peaceful surface of Hideaway Lake, Annajane discovers that the past is never really gone.  Even if there are people determined to keep Annajane from getting what she wants, happiness might be hers for the taking, and the life she once had with Mason in this sleepy lake town might be in her future.

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