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Library Happenings – Grisham’s new novel set in Clanton, Mississippi

By Angie Georgeff

What’s in a name? I have read that Unicoi County got its name from unega or unaka, the Cherokee word for white. With the seasons changing at last, we have enjoyed some beautifully white vistas recently, with fog shrouding the ridges, coves and hollows.

State Representative Alf Taylor insisted on the name when he introduced the bill that authorized the creation of the county in 1875. It is obvious that he knew and loved these mountains and valleys.

Because of the spelling, some people who call the library from out-of-state try a French pronunciation, but many just hesitate and wait for me to take the lead. “No, actually it’s Cherokee, not French,” I say and then I explain the meaning. It conjures up a pretty picture for them.

When I first told my son I was moving here, Andrew thought I said Unicorn County and a few other callers and correspondents have made that same mistake. He thinks the high school mascot should be the unicorn.

After reading about the Erwin High School Yellow Jackets in the 1931 Nolichucky high school annual, I know a change of mascot would not be unprecedented.  Andrew has to admit, however, that Blue Devils seem much more intimidating than Unicorns. I believe our opponents this season would rather have met a blessing of unicorns than our Blue Devils. Congratulations, team!

Spotlight Book

What’s in a picture? The dust jacket of John Grisham’s latest novel “The Reckoning” shows a kindling sunrise igniting dark blue clouds with swathes of gold and coral. In the rapidly waxing light, cotton fields are punctuated with bare trees and a rustic barn. If you take a closer look you notice another building behind the old barn, which appears to be surmounted by a cross. Is it a church, or could it be a telephone pole rising beyond another old outbuilding? There is not yet enough light to tell.

It is October in Clanton, Mississippi; the year is 1946. Early one cold morning, Pete Banning, who is a decorated war veteran and the patriarch of a prominent local family, gets up, confers with his foreman, eats breakfast with his sister, drives into town and shoots and kills his friend and pastor, the Reverend Dexter Bell. No one else is harmed in the incident.

All Banning will say about the shocking murder is, “I have nothing to say.” How can his attorney represent a man who won’t say a word in his own defense, even when he knows the consequences if he remains silent?

With a broad appeal that crosses genre boundaries, Grisham’s novels are hands down the books that generate the greatest demand here at the library. Call us at 743-6533 if you would like to reserve your place in line for “The Reckoning.”