23 December 2011

Southside in the News: Richard's House of Prayer No. 2 an Entertainment Weekly Favorite

Photo by Jeff Vespa, from Skylight Books
Earlier this year, I reviewed Mark Richard’s House of Prayer No. 2: A Writer’s Journey Home. I discussed how I read it thinking that I would know exactly what it would be about and became pleasantly surprised that I was wrong. Richard has lived a remarkable life, and his ability to describe periods of it is outstanding.

photo from The New Yorker
Turns out, I wasn’t the only one who liked House of Prayer No. 2. I was pleasantly surprised this week when I opened my copy of Entertainment Weekly (always reading it from end to beginning for some reason) to find that Richard’s book had been named number one on “The Best Nonfiction” list. That’s right, he beat out the Steve Jobs biography and Tina Fey’s smart and funny Bossypants, another favorite of mine for 2011.

This is great news for Southside Virginia, of course. Although Richard is not from Southside per se, he is from the city of Franklin, which is close enough. What a wonderful way to recognize literary talent from our part of the state (almost)! If you haven't read it yet, pick it up knowing that you're reading a winner!

02 December 2011

Alex Kershaw. The Bedford Boys: One American Town's Ultimate D-Day Sacrifice. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 2003.

Southside Virginia is known for many things: the controversial connection to the groundbreaking HeLa cells that have saved many lives, the powerful meaning Virginia's poet laureate Kelly Cherry conveys in her poetry, the unusual history of moonshine in Franklin County. Unfortunately, Southside Virginia also has the sad distinction of being home to the "Bedford Boys," the group of men who perished on D-Day at Omaha Beach in the Battle of Normandy.
From AmblingBooks.com

Alex Kershaw's documentation of this sad event is more than just another history book. Kershaw heavily researched the town and county of Bedford and how this tremendous loss affected its citizens. And the loss was tremendous: in a single day, twenty-one men from this small community of just over three thousand people were killed. By giving biographies of all involved, the author offers a human side to the statistic that made Bedford's loss the most severe on that pivotal day in June of 1944. The Bedford Boys presents a sound introduction to people interested in visiting the National D-Day Memorial which was opened in Bedford in 2001 because of its significant role in history.