Saturday, May 17, 2008

Jim Noles

Jim Noles is the author of A Pocketful of History: Four Hundred Years of America-- One State Quarter at a Time, and three previous books. He is a practicing attorney and a frequent contributor to the New York Times and several magazines.

Earlier this week I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
I'm an attorney (environmental law) by vocation and so I just finished polishing off the court's opinion in Sierra Club v. Robert B. Flowers, a decision that just came out of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. But I suspect that is not what you (or your readers) had in mind when you asked the question. Nor would you (or they) be interested to know that, at my three-year-old's insistence, I'm still reading How the Grinch Stole Christmas almost every night. And yes -- it is mid-May. My boy John is giving the phrase "timeless classic" a new meaning, I'm afraid.

So what am I really "reading" these days? Currently, I'm whipping through Alex Kershaw's new book Escape From The Deep. He wrote The Bedford Boys, among other notable World War II histories, and his new book is another page-turner. It tells the story of the sinking of the submarine USS Tang in the Formosa Straits during World War II and the remarkable escape of a handful of its men from 180 feet below the surface. But when they found themselves prisoners of the Japanese, they realized that they had escaped from the proverbial frying pan and into the fire.

I've also started Ellen Feldman's Scottsboro, which is a historical novel about the infamous Scottsboro case here in Alabama in the 1930s. I had the good fortune to run into Ellen at the Alabama Book Festival last month and we struck up one of those random conversations that I tend to have at such things. In the end, I picked up a copy of her book and she grabbed a copy of mine. I need to stop doing that at these events or I'm never going to break even with this book-writing thing ... but I'm enjoying Ellen's creative take on the trial and that sorry episode in our national and state history.

Meanwhile, I'm still plowing through The Moviegoer, primarily out of a sense of literary/civic duty. (Walker Percy, the author, was born here in Birmingham and spent his early childhood down the street from my house). I know that, by speaking in such terms, I risk being burned in effigy by legions of Walker Percy fans. It has its moments but, let's face it ... it's no How the Grinch Stole Christmas -- as John would readily attest.
Learn more about Jim Noles' work and A Pocketful of History.

--Marshal Zeringue