Josh Steele

'South Toward Home' by Margaret Eby: EW Review

“To be Southern is to grow up among the ruins,” journalist (and native Alabamian) Margaret Eby muses in her fascinating paean to the people and places that inspired some of the most revered chroniclers of life below the Mason Dixon line. Through a string of mini-biographies, Eby travels to locales such as William Faulkner’s “postage stamp” of native soil in Oxford, Mississippi and the rough-hewn Bacon County, Georgia that fueled Harry Crews’ gothic tales and fuses her own experiences with the lives behind the letters.

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The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler: EW review

While a book whose narrative hinges on drowning might not seem like a great beach read, Swyler’s debut effort, redolent of salty ocean air, is just that. This imaginative story of a centuries-old curse that stalks a family of mermaids and circus freaks does get weighed down by coincidence and a particularly flat character. But its clever plot—fueled by a musty book and a powerful set of tarot cards—and Swyler’s wonderful descriptions keep the pages swimming along. B

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Here's how to read your way through New Orleans

As a 19-year-old in Akron, Ohio, I somehow ended up with a copy of Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour. After tearing through that book and, subsequently, the rest of the Mayfair Witches series, I saved my pennies and made a beeline south for my first visit to New Orleans. Since then, I’ve been unable to shake the spell the streets of that the most u

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