Cover image of The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

Ode to the Potboiler

Fri., Jun. 10
Popular fiction and genre novels have always gotten bad raps by critics for not offering any literary value to readers. Many readers know, however, that some of the most popular authors have at least dabbled in genre fiction and many one-hit wonder titles still resonate as powerful signifiers of an era. Household names that have surfaced from genre writing include Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha…

SARK Recommends...

Tue., Jun. 7
Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy (known by her pen name, SARK) is a prolific artist and writer of books made to awaken the playful child within all of us and to teach women how to heal from trauma and become their best selves. Anytime I feel creatively stagnant, I come back to her books for a lighthearted push to keep going. SARK uses colorful markers and watercolor…

Memphis & the American Civil Rights Movement

Fri., Jun. 3
After talking about Sun Studio previously, let’s learn more about Memphis. Memphis has a deep history with civil rights and is home to the National Civil Rights Museum. Built around the infamous Lorraine Hotel where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in 1968, the Museum was established in 1991. The Museum educates the public on the history of civil rights in the U.S and features…

Cat Scratch Fever

Tue., May. 31
If you recall, earlier this month I discussed my thrilling discovery of Eric Garcia’s perplexing Anonymous Rex series. Once you’ve warmed to the “Dino Mafia” genre (a phrase I never thought I’d write), you won’t have to suspend much belief at all when entering Christine Feehan’s worlds of paranormal romance. Paranormal romances, if you’re not familiar, are romance novels with a spooky or fantastical twist.…

Cleopatra: Last Queen of Egypt

Fri., May. 27
A lot of people know the name Cleopatra, even if just because of the 1963 movie that bore her name and starred Elizabeth Taylor.  But I don’t think many people really know about her.  For example, did you know she married her younger brother to ascend the throne, then had him killed?  Did you know she spoke seven languages, and was the only Ptolemaic ruler…

The Music Never Stopped

Tue., May. 24
Fans of rock music know the Grateful Dead. For better or worse, love them or hate them, the Grateful Dead were an important and constant force in rock music from the late 1960s through the mid-1990s. The Grateful Dead formed in San Francisco, California in 1965. For years, a core group of musicians featuring Jerry Garcia on guitar and vocals, Bob Weir also on guitar…

Reading for Writing and Loving

Thu., May. 19
To get back in the habit of writing after a long hiatus, I am reading Dodie Smith's (of The Hundred and One Dalmatians fame) classic 1948 novel, I Capture the Castle (DB 47004). The novel's main character, Cassandra Mortmain—the teenage daughter of a flash-in-the-pan author—lives with her family in a ramshackle castle in England. She pursues a literary career of her own by recording her life experiences in…

Syttende Mai

Tue., May. 17
For today’s celebration of Syttende Mai (Seventeenth May), also called Nasjonaldagen (The National Day) or Grunnlovsdagen (The Constitution Day), I wanted to make you aware of a rare bit of Norwegian American writing. Ole Edvart Rølvaag was an immigrant from Norway who wrote of the Norwegian American immigrant experience in the early 20th century. We have his most famous book, Giants in the Earth (DB…

Sun Studio

Mon., May. 16
Memphis is known as the "Home of the Blues, Birthplace of Rock 'n Roll." One of the city’s most famous recording studios was Sam Phillips's Sun Studio down on Union Avenue. Opened in 1950, the studio is probably most famous for discovering a teenage Elvis Presley, who has stopped in to record a song for his mother and was later brought back by Phillips. Later,…

Gardening with Kids

Thu., May. 12
Gardening with kids can be fun and educational, but did you know that it's also full of sensory benefits? Children learn about the world using their senses, and as they grow and develop, sensory experiences help children make connections. For the child with a visual or other sensory impairment, these kinds of learning experiences are essential. Before you head out with garden gloves and trowel…