Category Archives: Gaston

Gaston

Wiley Cash. This Dark Road to Mercy. New York: William Morrow, 2014.

dark roadEaster Quillby is twelve, but she has already made up her mind about her dad, Wade: he is the loser that her mom always said he was. Wade was a professional baseball player, a pitcher, but he never made it to the major leagues and he has drifted ever since. Robert Pruitt is an ex-ballplayer too. He’s a hard man–brought up by a sadistic dad, he’s been a drug dealer and now he’s an ex-con who works as a bouncer at the Tomcat bar just outside Gastonia. And he knows what he thinks about Wade: Wade beaned him a ballgame, disfiguring him and ending his baseball career. Wade ruined his life, and Pruitt would do anything to ruin Wade’s. Brady Weller doesn’t know what to think about Wade. Brady is the guardian ad litem for Easter and her little sister Ruby–someone assigned by the courts to watch out for their best interests after their mother died from a drug overdose.

As This Dark Road to Mercy opens, Wade reappears in Easter and Ruby’s lives. He has heard that their mother died, and he thinks that he and the girls can be a family again. But it’s not just his ex-wife’s death that has spurred Wade into action. He has a stash of money–money that he stole from the original thief. With this stake, he thinks he can start anew–with the girls, and in a new place. Wade easily spirits his daughters away from the group home where they’ve been living, but before long both Pruitt and Weller are on his trail.  The action moves from Gastonia to the coast, down to Myrtle Beach, and then on to St. Louis, where a pivotal scene takes place. At times the book reads like a road-trip novel and Easter’s occasional narration adds humor, but this is a novel about serious issues: the ties of family, the darkness of the human heart, and the hope that many people have that they can outrun their past. Cash mixes in references to North Carolina minor league baseball teams, the Sammy Sosa-Mark McGwire home run race of 1998, and echoes of the 1997 armored car robbery that occurred in Gaston County, all of which clearly center his story in time and place. This Dark Road to Mercy is hard to categorize but easy to enjoy.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2014, Cash, Wiley, Gaston, Piedmont

D. H. Caldwell. Velma. New York: iUniverse, 2007.

Calvin “Cal” Curtis has recently retired and decides that instead of endless rounds of golf, he should put his newly unlimited free time towards solving  a murder from his childhood. As a fifteen-year-old paper boy in Gastonia in 1930, Cal lost his virginity to the sultry, nineteen-year-old Velma, the niece of one of his customers. One day she was found murdered more than fifty miles away in McDowell County, and the mystery of the killer was never resolved. Now Cal is determined to find out the truth, and write a novel on the circumstances of the crime.

He slowly tracks down old acquaintances from his youth, from Velma’s aunt and uncle, to mutual neighbors, to young women he knew as a teenger. Cal is happily married to a lovely woman named Gwenn, but that doesn’t seem to matter to some of the ladies with whom he’s catching up: they still see him as fair game and are eager to talk him out of his clothes. Dodging sexual advances and eating plenty of hearty diner fare, Cal journeys across North Carolina and Virginia, discovering more and more about Velma’s sexual exploits–dangerous behavior that ultimately led to her death.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2007, Caldwell, D. H., Gaston, Henderson, Mystery

D. H. Caldwell. Last Love. New York: iUniverse, 2008.

Elsie Erwin is thrown for a loss when her mother dies.  She and her mother have lived together in a small house in Gaston County all of Elsie’s life.  And through those many decades Mama communicated to Elsie a fear of germs, defilement, family, other people–really life itself.  At Mama’s funeral a cousin shares some family history with Elsie that helps explain her mother’s attitudes, but this new knowledge upsets Elsie.  Elsie’s one true friend, Bertha, steps up to help by whisking Elsie off on trips–to Florida in the summer and a cruise to the Bahamas in the winter.  Together the women have their share of innocent escapades and a few scrapes.  Still, when she’s at home, living in her old house proves too much for Elsie.  It is the interest and concern of an older man that reveals to Elsie the sweetness in life–and her true heritage.

 

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2008, Caldwell, D. H., Gaston, Piedmont, Religious/Inspirational

Tom Mendicino. Probation. New York: Kensington Books, 2010.

Andy Nocera seems to have it all: an adoring wife, a successful career, a beautiful house in High Point, and a doting mother. He is content, but he is not satisfied. Andy has long been attracted to men, and he feeds this desire one night in the bathroom stall of an Interstate 85 rest stop. Although in the past these trysts have been discrete, the police catch Andy this time, and he is arrested. Andy’s wife, at the insistence of her father (who is Andy’s boss), kicks him out, and he moves in with his mother. At his hearing, the judge offers Andy probation and an expunged record after a year if he if he goes to counseling. He is reluctant, considering his sessions with Reverend Matthew J. McGinley, S.J., M.D., to be a waste of his time. However, Father McGinley is persistent in helping Andy explore his past, even when that past is difficult. After a period of depression, alcohol and drug abuse, dangerous flings, and the death of his mother, Andy is able to make peace with himself and with his loved ones, including his former wife. In getting Andy to discuss his life, Father McGinley helps him to understand and accept where he is in the present as a gay man.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Gaston, Guilford, Mecklenburg, Mendicino, Tom, Piedmont, Watauga

Grace Lumpkin. To Make My Bread. New York: Macaulay Co., 1932.

To Make My Bread follows the McClure family during the years 1900-1929.  Initially, they are mountaineers, self-sufficient on their small plot of land.  Most of their neighbors live as they do, except for the Swains, who own the store in their community.  When the family is swindled out of their land by timber speculators, they move to a mill town forty miles away.

Not all family members adjust to the move.  The two younger children, John and Bonnie become the primary breadwinners, and they are radicalized by their experiences. Bonnie also struggles with the conflict between the demands of industrialized work and traditional expectations for women.  She becomes an important figure in the nascent labor movement in the town.

Part family saga, part political novel, To Make My Bread is one of six novels from the 1930s  based on the Gastonia textile strike of 1929.  The book has been the subject of academic study, and it is still in print from the University of Illinois Press.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 1930-1939, 1932, Gaston, Historical, Lumpkin, Grace, Mountains, Piedmont

Flora Ann Scearce. Cotton Mill Girl. Mustag, OK: Tate Publishing & Enterprises, 2006.

This novel follows Selena “Sippy” Wright as she joins the workforce at the tender age of twelve. Work as a “linthead’ in a cotton mill in Gastonia is hard, but Sippy makes lifelong friends and comes to see her own strengths. The hardships of early twentieth century mill life are vividly portrayed, but this is a book in the Oprah model–grit, good sense, and loving friends and family help a young girl grow in wisdom and happiness. This is the second Sippy Wright novel; Singer of an Empty Day (published in 1997) told the story of Sippy’s early life in a small mountain community.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC Catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2006, Gaston, Piedmont, Scearce, Flora Ann