On ‘Bookwatch,’ criticism and coziness

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 20, 2016

On March 24 Hal Crowther talks about “An Infuriating American: The Incendiary Arts of H.L. Mencken” on “North Carolina Bookwatch” on UNC-TV.

Like the legendary Mencken, Crowther’s informed and insightful commentary, with its biting wit, regularly stirs us. Such work won him The Baltimore Sun’s H.L. Mencken Writing Award in 1992. So it is appropriate that Crowther’s book seeks to explain Mencken’s influence and popularity and his large set of enemies. Crowther writes, “Mencken’s anger at America was his trademark. But it was also — more than once — his undoing.”

Mencken expert and UNC-Chapel Hill professor Fred Hobson writes, “This is the sort of book H.L. Mencken himself would have written if he had set out to do a study of an earlier American writer — a book that is essentially an extended essay, insightful, witty and very readable, one that gets at the meaning of Mencken better than many other books that are five times longer. Crowther gets Mencken just right, understands him fully, tells his story beautifully.”

Bridgett Lacy talks about “Sunday Dinner” on “Bookwatch” Sunday, March 27, at noon and Thursday, March 31 at 5 p.m.

Memories of her family’s meals when she was growing up stir the  Raleigh writer in her “Savor the South” cookbook from UNC Press.

In her introduction to the book, she remembers summertime Sunday dinners at her grandparents’ house, sitting down with “parents, aunts and uncles, siblings, and cousins to a meal of fried chicken, potato salad, green beans, and yeast rolls. On cold winter afternoons, Sunday dinner meant generous portions of perfectly seasoned pot roast with mashed potatoes and carrots.”

Lacy helps her readers create this kind of experience  by sharing about 50 simple recipes from her family and friends, including Grandma’s Fried Chicken, Papa’s Picnic Ham with Jack Daniels and Cloves and Pork Chops with Onion Gravy. There are side dishes and vegetables like Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese, Esther’s Summer Potato Salad, Scalloped Potatoes, Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Topping and Spicy Corn Cakes.

She does not forget  salads and desserts.

On Bookwatch she will share recollections from her growing up days and give good tips that help make organizing a big family meal a manageable project.