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Cat's Cradle Blog

Southern Appalachia: where the laurel grows

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

Sky-land: Stories of Picturesque North Carolina, Volume 1, Number 1I invite you to download and view my Appalachia catalog. All titles subject to prior sale. Inquires may be made to info@catscradlebks.net. I accept major credit cards and PayPal.

This new catalog contains materials on southern Appalachia. The Great Smokies, the Blue Ridge, the Black Mountains–they are all part of this ancient mountain range.

Although Appalachia extends northward into Maine, I focus on the region from West Virginia southward. It’s a wild, beautiful, and fascinating place.

Mountain folk, their culture, and their history; terrain, including a collection of technical materials on the geology of the area; and travel are all represented.

If you love the region as much as I do, you’ll find something in this catalog to explore. Enjoy.

Kathy Carter@Cat’s Cradle Books

It’s still a sin to kill a mockingbird. Happy birthday, Harper Lee.

Saturday, April 28th, 2012
Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird, Collector's edition printed from the original first edition plates.

Collector's edition in full leather, 24 karat gilt, printed from the original first edition plates. Click on image to see the Cat's Cradle Books list on Southern Literature.

Today is Southern novelist Harper Lee’s 86th birthday.  Born in Monroeville, Alabama, on April 28, 1926, Miss Lee is a bit of an anomaly.  She published one novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, which was awarded both the Pulitzer Prize and the Presidential Medal of Honor.  It remains arguably one of the most influential works of modern Southern literature.  Published by J. B. Lippincott in 1961, the novel became an immediate sensation and success.  It was followed in 1962 by a film adaptation starring Gregory Peck (Atticus Finch) and introducing Robert Duvall (“Boo” Radley).   Together, the novel and the film remain part of the larger American cultural landscape.

I remember reading Mockingbird at about the age of 10.  Like Scout Finch, the tomboy through whom the story is told, I could not remember learning to read any more than I could remember learning to breathe.  In terms of the words, the book was an easy read for me.   But as a child in Pennsylvania far removed from the time, place, and culture within which the novel was set, I was oblivious to much of its meaning and certainly of its significance.   Like many, I suppose, I returned to Mockingbird many times in my life.  Layers of my own experiences lent new meaning to Miss Lee’s work.  It was truly a new novel each time I picked it up and sank into its pages to join Jem, Scout, and Dill on a journey toward grappling with the harsh realities of racism, injustice, and poverty – a journey toward growing up.

Southern literature has flourished in the half-century (and more) since the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird.  The landscape of Southern writing offers incredibly diverse and interesting work.  Perhaps it comes from a regional fondness for the story told well, with embellishments and exaggerations, at pig pickin’s, at family gatherings, at almost every opportunity.  I don’t know about all that (as Southerners here say when they think this is probably wrong but are a little too polite to say so).

One thing is clear:  Southern literature is a genre worth exploring, and Southern-born authors are often well worth reading.  Harper Lee, Truman Capote, Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty, Lee Smith, Kaye Gibbons, Reynolds Price…the names go on and on.

But Harper Lee will always be at the top of my list.

For books and periodicals on Southern literature or by Southern authors, visit our Southern Literature list.

With all good wishes,

Kathy Carter
Cat’s Cradle Books

The New York Intellectuals: “Commentary” and “Partisan Review”

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

Commentary magazineThe New York Times Book Review (August 1, 2010) yesterday published “Turning Right,” a review of two new books.  It captured my attention with its focus on the Jewish intellectual journal Commentary and its long-time editor, Norman Podhoretz.   I find the monthly Commentary and its cohort, Partisan Review, to be fascinating, especially issues from the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s.  Whenever possible, I add them to inventory. 

See our current list of Commentary here, and Partisan Review there.

Commentary, Partisan Review, and others of their genre represented the voice of American intellectuals who understood they were outside the mainstream.  Their role was to offer critcism of the culture within which they lived.  Intellectual forces collaborated and sometimes collided in their pages. 

Commentary, published by the American Jewish Committee, provided a platform for Isaac Bashevis Singer as well as James Baldwin and many prominent and lesser known writers (a young homemaker-writer named Ethel Rosenberg published a short piece there in the 1940s). Its debates addressed the formation and sustenance of the new Israeli state as well as the issues of race in America. 

Partisan ReviewJean-Paul Sartre, Hannah Arendt, and many other influential postwar philosophers and critics graced the pages of Partisan Review with their extraordinary work. 

Both periodicals struggled with the constraints of the McCarthy era, when “outside the mainstream” often meant “outside the safe zone.”   Some principals, like Norman Podhoretz, shifted their political leanings from left to right over a long career in changing times.  Ideas have always evolved in response to events (and vice versa sometimes).

To enter the pages of either of these publications is to enter the world of what used to be called the “New York Intellectual.”  Well crafted, well argued essays and opinion columns were the order of the day.  

Other intellectual journals of the last half of the 20th century included the New Left Review (a latecomer in the 1960s, published in Britain) and the Kenyon Review (for literary folk).   There were many others, of course.

Taken together, they remind us that intellectual life in the United States – the anti-intellectualism that often marks our public discourse to the contrary – was flourishing even under the constraints of the Red Scare and the angst of the Vietnam era.

See a full list of our periodicals in stock, with new titles being added daily to our inventory.

Kathy Carter at Cat’s Cradle Books

Glenn R. Chavis, Our Roots, Our Branches, Our Fruit: High Point’s Black History, 1859-1960

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Chavis, Our Roots, Our Branches, Our Fruit 

I’m pleased to announce the release of a very special book by High Point, NC, native Glenn R. Chavis.  

In honor of the occasion, Cat’s Cradle Books has published its first print catalog, our current list of books related to African American life, history, literature, art, culture, and folklore.   For a copy of this catalog, contact us at info@catscradlebks.net.  

Glenn has written a compilation of information about the African American community of High Point, North Carolina from the incorporation of the town in 1859 to the sit-in era launched in 1960.  Glenn, born and raised in the black community during a time of segregation, has spent years researching the community’s history in government documents, city directories, newspapers, school records, and hundreds of other pieces of the past.  

His book contains 41 photographs of life in High Point’s black community, most of them never before published.  Our Roots, Our Branches, Our Fruit is a groundbreaking book; earlier focus on local history in this small New South city has been almost exclusively on the white community and on business and industrial leaders in particular.  

I was deeply honored to serve as editor of Glenn’s book.  The layout and design of the interior are also my work.   My editor’s preface, I hope, does the author justice.  Bob Brown, a High Point native and former White House adviser, contributed a foreword.  The High Point Historical Society is the publisher of record, and several local donors funded the cost of publication.  

Signed copies are available from the High Point Museum, which is presently the only outlet for this important book.  Future volumes in Glenn’s series are planned.  They include an upcoming sourcebook of information about segregated black schools in High Point, a study of black churches, and potentially several historical sourcebooks of land deeds held by High Point’s African Americans.   Glenn is also a storyteller, and many hope that he will eventually publish an anthology or two of  his well-researched personal essays and vignettes about High Point’s black history as well. 

Kathy Carter, Cat’s Cradle Books