Book trailer: When All the World Is Old, poems by John Rybicki

“Ordinary words are rooted to the great fires in the human heart. The same words we use every day, at the playground, at the bus stop, at the grocery store – when the poet takes hold of those tarnished, dirty words, they dunk them in the deep fires of the human heart and splash them on this canvas to bust open the chest of someone who’s listening.”

If you don’t read John Rybicki–you should! Last month, Lookout Books published his latest collection of poems, a tribute to his late wife entitled When All the World Is Old. Lookout also released this trailer for the book–and if Rybicki’s word’s don’t inspire you, I don’t know what will.

At the age of 29, just five years after they met, Rybicki’s wife, the poet Julie Moulds, was diagnosed with cancer. Here, in poems raw and graceful, authentic and wise, Rybicki pays homage to the brave love they shared during her 16-year battle and praises the caregivers—nurses and doctors and friends—who helped them throughout. He invites readers to bear witness to not only the chemotherapy, the many remissions, and the bone marrow transplants, but also the adoption of the couple’s son, the lifted prayers, the borrowed time, and the lovers’ last touches. A husband smashes an ice-cream cone against his forehead to make his wife laugh. He awakens in the middle of the night to find their dog drowsing atop a pile of her remnant clothes.

The lamentations and celebrations of When All the World Is Old create a living testament to an endless love. Braided with intimate entries from Moulds’s journal, these poems become the unflinching and lyric autobiography of a man hurtling himself headlong into the fire and emerging, somehow, to offer a portrait of light and grace.

Rybicki’s hymns rest in the knowledge that even though all love stories one day come to an end, we must honor the loving anyway. The poet has dipped his pen in despair, but as he cleaves his heart and our own, transmitting the exquisite loss into a beauty so fierce and scalding and ultimately healing that readers come out whole on the other side.

Mmmm-mmmm! Bob Garner’s Book of Barbecue

Summer is just around the corner–the perfect time for a pig pickin’! Whether you’re ready to pull out the pig cooker or you’d rather stop by your favorite restaurant, you need to check out the brand new Bob Garner’s Book of Barbecue: North Carolina’s Favorite Food, available wherever books are sold.

After nearly 20 years, two books, and innumerable television and magazine features on barbecue traditions and recipes, Bob Garner has established himself as the authoritative voice on North Carolina’s favorite food. The accomplished pit master has cooked with chefs Paula Deen and Bobby Flay. He has appeared on the Travel Channel’s Road Trip and ABC’s Good Morning America. He has been a featured speaker at the annual Big Apple Barbecue Block Party in New York and the Southern Foodway Alliance’s annual symposium in Oxford, Miss. Now, Garner is at it again, this time setting the record straight on history, traditions, and recipes related to the Tar Heel state’s favorite food.

“Young people are surprisingly fond of barbecue and of holding onto the tradition,” says Garner. He plans on helping them do just that with his latest book.

Bob Garner’s Book of Barbecue: North Carolina’s Favorite Food preserves the heritage and tradition of a disappearing rural lifestyle while showing how barbecue continues to evolve. The 101 profiles of Garner’s favorite N.C. barbecue restaurants make this a necessary guidebook for any traveler with a taste for pork in the Old North State. But Bob Garner’s Book of Barbecue is more than a guidebook; it is also packed full of barbecue history and culture, engaging anecdotes about Bob’s experiences as “the Barbecue Man,” recipes for barbecue and popular side dishes, and profiles of past and present influential pit masters and barbecue aficionados. This tome is the definitive guide to anything and everything pertaining to North Carolina’s favorite food and its history and tradition.

Bob kicked off his North Carolina book tour this week with a launch party at The Pit in Raleigh, where he serves as Minister of Barbecue Culture. Be sure to stop by when he visits your city–he just might bring some barbecue sliders from the restaurant!

If you can’t wait to get your hands on the book, feel free to try out these recipes, excerpted for the Durham Herald-Sun.

It’s American Craft Beer Week!

In celebration, we’ve put together some trivia on North Carolina’s craft beer scene, including an abridged timeline that dates back to the first mentions of locally brewed beer, based on Erik Lars Myers’s North Carolina Craft Beer & Breweries. We know some new breweries are popping up across the state, so if we’ve missed one, please let us know in the comments. And while you’re at it, check out the American Craft Beer Week events happening near you.


Click the image to view full size.

Mother’s Day gift guide

Still worrying over how to show your mother you care this May 13? Books make a great token of appreciation! Especially when they’re written by Southern humorist Melinda Rainey Thompson.

I’ve Had It Up to Here with Teenagers

Thompson’s three teenagers bury her under an Everest of laundry. They send her for groceries so often that she once heard a store employee cry, “Incoming!” They leave such a quantity of half-eaten sandwiches around their rooms as to provide a buffet for roaches. They complain for hours about 10-minute chores. They spend their parents’ money like it magically regenerates and hoard their own like it’s the last dose of the elixir of life.

To put it another way, they’re typical teens.

In her inimitable style, Thompson makes I’ve Had It Up to Here with Teenagers both a humorous rant against teens and a celebration of seeing them rise from the ashes of battle to become well-adjusted, responsible humans. “Parental love is fierce and illogical,” she writes. “I think it is the strongest force on earth. It trumps everything, thank God: sleepless nights, hard stadium seats, endless recitals, broken hearts, losing seasons, throw-up viruses, bad grades, poor choices, and everything else life throws at teenagers and their parents.”

But don’t take our word for it. Here’s what others had to say:

“I’ve Had It Up to Here with Teenagers is a must-have . . . Thompson, with her trademark Southern charm and saucy down-home lingo, takes a frank look at the moody, fridge-raiding prima donnas for whom she does mounds of laundry, chauffeurs around town and bakes endless pound cake . . . Her tales of life with teens are horrifyingly uproarious.”
Shelf Awareness

“I am not using hyperbole when I say that Melissa Rainey Thompson is a modern-day Erma Bombeck, and so whether you have teens or not, this book is for you.”

“I can’t even describe what a gift reading this book was for me . . . The book made me think about my parenting AND laugh, and that’s a wonderful combination.”

“Ms. Thompson focuses her keen eye, sharp pen, and exasperated sense of humor on the more familiar, everyday madness of raising teenagers . . . Ms. Thompson clearly penned these essays to amuse, kvetch, and commiserate with her compatriots in the mother-trenches. . . .”
New York Journal of Books

And for Melinda’s fans, her blogger friend has created a bracelet that matches the cover of the book. She’s selling them for $15 ($5 of which will be donated to charity). It’s a win-win!


SWAG: Southern Women Aging Gracefully

SWAG started as a lark when Melinda Rainey Thompson began a monthly mailing of her humorous essays about ordinary events from a Southern woman’s perspective. Over several years, her subscription list grew to nearly 5,000 people in 28 states. Ranging from swimsuit shopping to squirrel battling, from magnolia theft to cemetery etiquette, Thompson’s delightful essays and clever lists reflect the everyday peculiarities of life in the South.

Ten Ways to Know if You’re a SWAG

  1. You feel the urge to bake a pound cake after reading the obituaries.
  2. You have had professional photographs made of your children barefoot and dressed in their Sunday clothes.
  3. You’d rather have a fight with your husband than with your best friend.
  4. You have stolen magnolia leaves, or you know someone who has.
  5. You have monogrammed the middle of your shower curtain.
  6. You could live without Yankees who equate your Southern accent with a low IQ.
  7. You know better than to eat the potato salad at a family reunion.
  8. You are socially conditioned to believe that tanned fat looks better than white fat.
  9. Your children hide their Easter baskets and Valentine’s Day candy from you just in case you have a dieting lapse.
  10. You believe that cocktail dresses do not double as church clothes.


The SWAG Life

Following the success of Melinda Rainey Thompson’s first book, SWAG: Southern Women Aging Gracefully, her newest collection of humorous and touching essays and lists addresses such problems as aging, becoming your mother, raising children who love sports, dealing with the unexpected, and the fate of manners.

Much more than just funny (reason enough to buy this, by the way), this collection captures those “exalted moments of heaven sandwiched right in the minutia of the daily grind.” Thompson shares plenty of SWAG life lessons that she has learned the hard way—through bumbling experience. Included are many of her most embarrassing moments, not only for the belly laughs, but to warn you away from making the same humiliating mistakes. She also has plenty of suggestions for improving society, starting with ten things better left in the past:

  1. Your pre-baby weight
  2. Sordid details of your previous marriages
  3. Your natural hair color
  4. Your prescription medication history
  5. Labor and delivery stories
  6. Your high-school sports career
  7. Your overcoming-addiction stories
  8. Your vacation photographs
  9. Your college fraternity and sorority sportswear
  10. Family feuds


I Love You–Now Hush

The grass is ablaze, the lawnmower blade dangles from a tree, and your frustrated husband is hiding in the garage. You (a) tell him you’re going shopping, (b) ask him if everything’s okay, or (c) sneak back into the house and pretend you didn’t see him reading the instructions.

Your wife says she’s “fine” after an argument. You (a) assume she’s fine, (b) go back to watching the game, or (c) duck and cover.

If you don’t know the answers to these questions, then this book is for you. Two of the South’s funniest voices have come together to write this hilarious, heartfelt collection of essays about the nature of men and women. From keeping house to romance, from yard work to money, their fresh take on these common arguments will make you laugh out loud and maybe even instill a bit of insight when it comes to the opposite sex. Also covered are quite a few not-so-common squabbles, such as proper singing etiquette and hoarding mayonnaise jars.

I Love You—Now Hush was a 2010 ForeWord Reviews’ Book of the Year winner and a 2011 Benjamin Franklin Award finalist, both in the humor category.