Browsing articles from "February, 2013"
Feb 28, 2013
Abby Davis

Book Review-Can’t Is Not an Option: My American Story

By Abby Davis

“When the daughter of Indian immigrants, who grew up in a small rural town in the segregated South, can become the first female and minority governor of her state and the youngest governor in the nation, then it’s clear that the American Dream still exists.”  This inspiring quote is one of Nikki Haley’s final comments in her autobiography published last April, Can’t Is Not an Option: My American Story.

Her story begins with her parents immigrating to North America and ultimately moving to the small town of Bamberg, South Carolina where she was born.  They were the only Indian family there and she explains that they faced many initial hardships when neither side of a segregated town would accept them, since they were neither white nor black.  Her story miraculously ends, however, with her describing her first 250 days as governor of this very same state.

Through her detailed accounts of all the unbelievable obstacles she encountered on her path to the governor’s mansion, it becomes clear the only way she got there was by truly letting can’t never be an option.  She spends plenty of time illustrating the policies and practices she believes in—which revolve around “limited, responsible, transparent government”—and we see the truth of these statements reflected through her work in the House and now as governor.

This book also, however, allows the audience to see not just Nikki Haley, Governor of South Carolina—but to see and understand Nikki.  She reveals Nikki the grateful boss; Nikki who got giddy about meeting Sarah Palin; Nikki who likes to “get excited”; Nikki who celebrates with the Black Eyed Peas’ hit “I Gotta Feeling”; Nikki the caring mother; Nikki the loving wife; and Nikki who cares deeply about all South Carolinians.

Whether you support her political “Movement” or not, this book shares an incredible story that all South Carolinians can be proud of.  She frequently describes how incredibly proud she is of the progress that South Carolina has made and continues to make in overcoming bigoted, antiquated ideals of the past.  Nikki Haley herself is proof of the progress and her book does not just tell her triumphant story, but also tells a story of triumph for all of South Carolina.

Feb 19, 2013
Abby Davis

Book Review-The Story of the H.L. Hunley and Queenie’s Coin

By Abby Davis

The Story of the H.L. Hunley and Queenie’s Coin by Fran Hawk explores the mystery surrounding the first submarine to ever sink an enemy warship as well as George Dixon’s lucky gold coin gifted to him by his love, Queenie Bennett.  The book closely follows the creation of the H.L. Hunley, its first tragic voyages, its mysterious disappearance, and ends with the long awaited resurrection of the submarine in August 2000.  The resurfacing of the Hunley is depicted as a joyful day in which 20,000 people at the Charleston Harbor welcomed the submarine back from the depths of the ocean where it was hidden for 136 years.

While the story mostly shares the mysteries of the Hunley, Dixon’s lucky gold coin from Queenie is an important feature as well.  The coin had proven to be very lucky at the Battle of Shiloh where it saved Dixon’s leg and ultimately his life.   The coin was in fact discovered in the excavation of the Hunley right where Lt. Dixon would have been sitting, but unfortunately it had not been lucky enough to save the Hunley and it’s crew.

The story itself is riveting and educational, but the charm of this book lies in the beautiful illustrations by Dan Nance.  Nance is a noted Civil War artist and some of his works can be seen at the South Carolina State Museum.

Feb 12, 2013
Curtis Rogers

Speaker at the Center Spring 2013 Line Up of Authors Announced

The South Carolina State Library’s Center for the Book, in cooperation with USC Press and Hub City Press, is pleased to announce its spring 2013 author line up. The Speaker @ the Center program will hold free lunchtime author talks on the following dates:

Thursday, February 28, JONATHAN GREEN, EDWARD MADDEN & CHARLENE SPEAREN, Seeking: Poetry and Prose Inspired by the Art of Jonathan Green. Nearly 30 writers respond to Green’s depiction of his quest toward induction into a spiritual community.

Thursday, March 21, W. ERIC EMERSON, A Confederate Englishman: The Civil War Letters of Henry Wemyss Feilden. The letters chart the eventful career of the British officer turned Confederate captain from the time he arrives in South Carolina.

Thursday, April 18, SUSAN TEKULVE, In the Garden of Stone, The saga of Sicilian immigrants in the coal mines of Appalachia. In the Garden of Stone is harrowing and beautifully told. Winner of the SC First Novel prize.

Thursday, May 16, AÏDA ROGERS, CINDI BOITER, CEILLE BAIRD WELCH & BILLY DEAL, State of the Heart: South Carolina Writers on the Places They Love. This collection of essays offers a personal view of cherished destinations and the emotional connections they inspire.

Thursday, June 20, TOM POLAND & PHIL SAWYER, Save the Last Dance for Me: A Love Story of the Shag and the Society of Stranders. The iconic beach dance became an important part of coastal culture and social change.

Books will be available for purchase and autographing. All programs will take place from noon to 1pm at the SC State Library located at 1500 Senate St., Columbia. Speaker @ the Center is FREE and open to the public. Bring your lunch and enjoy learning more about South Carolina.

The South Carolina Center for the Book is the South Carolina Affiliate of the Library of Congress Center for the Book and is a cooperative project of the South Carolina State Library, the University of South Carolina School of Library and Information Science, and The Humanities CouncilSC.

Feb 4, 2013
Abby Davis

Book Review – She’s Gone

By Abby Davis

“Once upon a time…happily ever after” fairytale romances rarely occur in real life.  There are always complications; life is not perfect.  She’s Gone seems to be driving these points home.  This novel starts out seeming like perhaps the main characters, Kofi and Keisha, will fall in love and everything will go perfectly.  After delving a bit farther into the book, however, the audience realizes that this will not at all be the case.  Their romance, which seems to be a parallel for life as a whole, is tumultuous and wrought with deceit, heartache, miscommunication, and tragedy.

This absurd love story is far from typical, and so is the writing style. The author, Kwame Dawes, tells this cross-cultural romance beautifully.  His words leap from the page to form images of both South Carolina and Jamaica, the two main settings of the novel.  His sentences mesh together rhythmically and some passages read like song lyrics.  It is no surprise that Dawes also writes poetry and was Distinguished Poet in Residence at the University of South Carolina where he taught from 1992-2012.

Dawes lived in Ghana, Jamaica, and South Carolina and all three of these places are featured in his novel.  The story includes some background in Ghana, but primarily takes place in Jamaica and South Carolina.  Kofi and Keisha meet in Columbia, South Carolina where Keisha was working for the University of South Carolina.  Their romance later takes them to Jamaica where Dawes brilliantly captures the Jamaican dialect in his writing as well as the nation’s vibrant culture.

Differences between cultures, skin colors, and countries are a central topic in the novel and South Carolina and Jamaica are often compared and contrasted.  Some of these differences prove to be part of the many problems with Kofi and Keisha’s relationship. Their romance is far from perfect; Dawes presents many harsh truths of the world and the story can be very heavy, intense, and vulgar.  His magical writing and the incredible insight he provides into different cultures, however, make it well worth the read.