• Outer Banks, NC,  Vacations,  Writing & Publishing

    Scenes from Hatteras Island

    Rising Waters, Rising Bridges, and an Old, OLD Bookstore Building That Looks Brand New . . . and Fantastic! A few weeks ago, we drove the length of the North Carolina’s wonderful Outer Banks, emptying out an SUV of books at bookselling shops along the way. These trips are always a joy, allowing us to visit the Banks, to see old friends, and to sell some books, of course. This year was a little different, however. For one thing, crowds were bigger than usual in May, likely in part to the gotta-get-away-to-the-beach anxiety generated by a year of Covid isolation. But there was a difference with the Outer Banks themselves—specifically,…

  • Outer Banks, NC,  Vacations,  Weekly Blog

    Scenes from Ocracoke

    Still the Outer Banks’ pearl, even as the waters rise OCRACOKE, NC — An overnight stay on this southernmost point of North Carolina’s famed Outer Banks, or at least the southernmost populated point, is always a treat. It never seems quite like the rest of the Outer Banks to me. The other villages are on the windswept Atlantic coast, with sand dunes and rough surf. I love them, too. But Ocracoke, tucked away on the inland side of the island, is just different. More like a New England village, maybe. Surrounding a lake. Walkable. The past and the present intertwined. Here are some photos. We’ve just had a quick but…

  • Just Because,  Outer Banks, NC,  Vacations

    I’ve Got My Own Band!

    And, no, I can’t play a lick What do Dave Clark, Steve Miller, Bon Jovi, Van Halen — and now I, yes I — have in common? We’ve all given our names to rock bands. There is but one difference. Those eponymous bands (eponymous being a pretentious word meaning, “giving a name to something else“) feature the eponym (haha! another pretentious word) as the principal performer. The Ray McAllister Band does not. I’m not actually even in my own band. (The band members, I’m sure, are fine with that, given that I have no idea how to play an musical instrument. I am, as well, a bad singer.) But the…

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    Let’s make this an Independent Bookstore Day challenge …

    And don’t worry. Amazon will do just fine Today is Independent Bookstore Day, which, sadly, we need. Really, it’s independent bookstores that we need. And local Mom and Pops. And downtowns. And you get all this already. And you know why they’re endangered. And, no, it’s not because we don’t want them. We do. But we don’t recognize our own long-term interests. (In case you don’t, let me direct you to this eye-opening story: “Kansas Bookshop’s Fight with Amazon is About More Than the Price of Books.”) So here’s the cure: Buy at least one book today from a local independent bookstore. It’s a start. Let’s make it a challenge.…

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    The Last Novel

    Fitzgerald died before his masterpiece-in the making, The Last Tycoon, could be finished 5th month of F. Scott Fitzgerald reading challenge, 5th novel, The Last Tycon (1941). F. Scott Fitzgerald’s first of five novels, This Side of Paradise, turned 100 in 2020 and new “Collector’s Editions” came out from his old publisher Scribner, now part of Simon & Schuster. The more likely motivation for the new editions, however, is that the brilliant and lucrative Gatsby now has slipped into the public domain, as of January 1, and Scribner understandably wanted one last cash grab. Everyone and his brother is publishing The Great Gatsby for 2021 and some are putting out…

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    Tender Is the Night

    It May Not Be as Great as Gatsby, but Fitzgerald’s 4th Novel Ain’t Shabby 4th month of F. Scott Fitzgerald reading challenge, 4th novel, Tender Is the Night (1934). F. Scott Fitzgerald’s first of five novels, This Side of Paradise, turns 100 this year and new “Collector’s Editions” are out from his old publisher Scribner, now part of Simon & Schuster. The more likely motivation for the new editions, however, is that the brilliant and lucrative Gatsby now slips into the public domain, as of January 1, and Scribner understandably wanted one last cash grab. Everyone and his brother is publishing The Great Gatsby for 2021 and it seems half…

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    Covid Daze

    First today’s big event was canceled, then today’s big event was canceled Today was the big day. Twice. This was the public start of the fabulous Bizarre Bazaar in Richmond, Va. Or it was until it was canceled for the coronavirus. Understandable, of course. These days, it’s as impractical to hold a massive Christmas show as to go on a cruise ship and kiss all the passengers. Still, we miss it. We’ve been bringing books and such to the Bizarre Bazaar since we were first invited in 2006, the year my Topsail Island: Mayberry by the Sea came out. (If you’re counting, this would have been our 15th show.) We…

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    GATSBY!

    GATSBY! More than Merely Great There aren’t enough superlatives for Fitzgerald’s third novel 3rd month of F. Scott Fitzgerald reading challenge, 3rd novel, The Great Gatsby (1925) This is the big one, of course, the novel judged the best American work of the entire 20th century (and the 2nd best only to Joyce’s Ulysses among all English language works), the novel everyone from teens to their English teachers to their grandparents adores. This is The Great Gatsby. I had only ever read two of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novels. But his first, This Side of Paradise, turns 100 this year and new “Collector’s Editions” of all five are out from his…

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    Tell Them What It Means to You

    Remembering my father (Bob McAllister, upper photo) and his brother (Warren “Bud” McAllister), World War II veterans, on this #VeteransDay. My father enlisted in the Army Air Corps (forerunner to the Air Force) right out of high school, but the war was ending by the time he was shipped to the Pacific. He ended up seeing more action on the group’s basketball team, which won the Far Eastern championship. Dad, who died nine years ago just short of 84, always said his 7-years-older brother was the true hero. Indeed, Bud, shown here in 1943, was a bomber pilot for the Eighth Air Force, whose perilous missions were flown over Nazi…

  • Weekly Blog,  Writing & Publishing

    7 Quick Thoughts on FSF’s Overlooked ‘Beautiful and Damned’

    Fitzgerald’s second novel slipped through the cracks— but led to brilliance ahead 2nd month of F. Scott Fitzgerald reading challenge, 2nd novel, The Beautiful and Damned (1922) Yes, F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote a novel with a soap opera title, The Beautiful and Damned. (It’s not a soap opera, though I suspect more than a few in 1922 were surprised to see “Damned” in a title.) Didn’t know of this book? I suspect most of us at least know OF the legendary writer’s startling debut (This Side of Paradise), obviously we know of his classic and near-classics (novels 3 and 4, The Great Gatsby and Tender Is the Night, respectively), and…

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