Reading Matters

Frances Mayes’s memoir: Wake up and smell the magnolias

I’m always saying what a good match North Carolina Bookwatch host D.G. Martin is with this writer or that writer. And it’s true. His agreeable, curious nature makes him a wonderful interviewer. But sometimes you can just tell -- as with novelist Pat Conroy -- that Martin has met a soul mate. When that happens, the electricity sizzles and you can ride the rapids of the conversation.

I am predicting that this coming Sunday, June 21, Father’s Day, Martin and Frances Mayes will find in each other -- and in their deep South roots -- the kind of connection that makes for a memorable episode.

Mayes is the bestselling author of “Under the Tuscan Sun,” about her restoration of a house in Italy, where she and her husband live when they are not restoring their house and gardens in Hillsborough. She’s also the author of “Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir,” recently out in paperback, a book that renders the South Georgia landscape so vividly you can smell the gardenias, the magnolias, the peaches, as well as the inevitable melancholy of these small, dying Southern towns.

If you’re still looking for a treat after this program, buy or borrow from the library, the audio version of “Under Magnolia.” Even if you’ve read the book, listening to Mayes’s voice and accent renders this an entirely new experience.

Tune in this Sunday at noon on WUNC-TV and again on Thursday, June 25, at 5 p.m.

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