Safe From The Neighbors by Steve Yarbrough
High school history teacher Luke May has spent all of his days in Loring, Miss., a small town with big secrets. Nicknamed by students and co-workers as “Mr. History,” Luke has developed a life-long fascination with Loring’s intriguing and controversial stories of racism, racial segregation, and unsolved mysteries. His knowledge and passion for local history cause him to recount past events, ultimately discovering that many of them are attached to everyday life in the town.
Mississippi-born novelist Steve Yarbrough brings an amusing Southern punch to his writing through characters and situations developed from his knowledge of Southern history. His particular style of creativity has often been compared to that of William Faulkner. The pages in his gripping and thought-provoking book Safe From The Neighbors nearly turn themselves. Yarbrough also has written four other novels—The Oxygen Man, The End of California, Prisoners of War, and Visible Spirits—and multiple short story collections.
Luke discovers that on an evening in 1962, after the contentious and riotous instatement of African American James Meredith into a university in nearby Oxford, a local Loring man shot and killed his wife—or so it was presumed. Never convicted, the man fled Loring, taking with him his young son and daughter. Luke is consumed by questions about the details of what transpired, as the man and Luke’s father had shared a ride to Oxford that fateful night. However, Luke’s zest for facts and local history alone cannot satisfy his curiosity.
But a fascinating opportunity arises when Luke’s childhood companion and daughter of the supposed murderer, Maggie Sorrentino, returns to town. Gorgeous, well-manicured, and driving a cherry-red Mercedes, Maggie undoubtedly draws the attention of everyone around her—including Luke. Luke compares himself to the bleak surface of a catfish pond, pointing out that even the pond fares better than he with its bustling activity under the water.
Having been in a boring, passionless marriage for years, Luke finds a long-awaited, vibrant companion in Maggie and soon begins an affair. Within Maggie he discovers candid details about the past, his father and the true story of his own history.
"The Power of Half" by Kevin Salwen and Hannah Salwen
The Power of Half shares the touching and empowering true story of a courageous Atlanta family that decides to downsize their own affluent lives in order to greatly improve the existence of others.
In hot pursuit of the iconic American Dream, the Salwen Family lives “the good life”—a 6,000-square-foot mansion with an elevator, three Viking ranges in the kitchen, lavish parties, tennis lessons, live-in childcare, and the most prestigious, private schools in the area. To help balance out their bountiful lifestyles, the Salwens spend weekends building homes with Habitat for Humanity, volunteering in food banks, and donating a portion of earnings to charity.
However, 14-year-old Hannah always desired to do more for the less fortunate. Headed home one afternoon and sitting in traffic with her father, she notices a homeless man to their left and a man driving a high-dollar luxury automobile to their right. Hannah suddenly has a seemingly obvious realization: “if that man had a less nice car, that man there could have a meal.”
This one statement forces the Salwen family to reevaluate their lives, their acquisitions, and the potential impact they could make if they put their prosperity to good use. Nearly one year and a multitude of conversations later, the Salwens sell their opulent mansion and give half of the exorbitant profit to charity. Doing much more than merely handing money over to people in need, the Salwens become wholly involved in the process, carefully deciding how their money—and each of them as individuals—will go to best use.
Families from all socio-economic groups can benefit from the Salwens brave adventure. By looking outside of ourselves and away from our stuff, we can literally find a world full of people in need. If we ask ourselves honestly, most of us truly can afford to give more than what is just “enough.”
Doug Thompson’s passion for journalism and photography inspired him to start The Blue Ridge Muse blog in 2004.
Blog topics range from news, sports, politics, and photos galleries, to the … well, uncomfortable (most articles in the Fubar section are not for the faint of heart). Take a ride on a Harley through a winding mountain road, or enjoy highlights from Floyd High Schools Homecoming football game. The Blue Ridge Muse offers something for everyone in this user-friendly slice of Appalachian life.
Thompson is an active participant on the site, responding often to viewer’s comments and bringing his readers a well put-together view into Southern life and local happenings. His blog offers the public the truth at various angles, and Thompson’s approach is both contemplative and respectful.
To get in on the blog action, visit www.blueridgemuse.com