About Jim Stovall

Jim Stovall, a retired journalism prof, is now a novelist, self publisher, watercolorist, gardener, woodworker and beekeeper -- among others things.
Author Archive | Jim Stovall
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Ridge Running: A Memoir of Appalachia

My good friend Chris Wohlwend, an award-winning big-city journalist, has just published a memoir of his life growing up in Knoxville titled Ridge Running: A Memoir of Appalachia. I had the privilege of helping Chris get this thing into print and ebook form, so I can tell you that it is an interesting, humorous, and engaging book to […]

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Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin and his way of thinking

Charles Darwin achieved the most important breakthrough in the annals of scientific thinking with the publication of The Origin of Species in 1859. But Darwin did not see himself as a great intellect or even a particularly clever person. His self-awareness was not the product of humility, as Shane Parrish points out in a short […]

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Notre Dame

Watercolour World: watercolors as the pre-20th century photography

How can we know what something or some location looked like 200 or 300 years ago? If some master painter depicted someone or something and it hung in a museum, gallery, or collection, that would be one means. Usually, these works were done in oil and took much time and training to complete. Consequently, they […]

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Han van Meegeren: His Vermeers fooled everyone (part 1)

Han van Meegeren was a con artist who couldn’t complete his con — until his life depended on it. Van Meegeren (1889-1947) did not set out to be a con artist. He simply wanted to be an artist. Born in the provincial Dutch city of Deventer, he grew up with a love of art and an […]

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WilliamManchester

The would-be Vermeer, fountain pens, and the sad end of a great writer: newsletter, April 12, 2019

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,841) on Friday, April 12, 2019.   It continues to be April, and, among many other things, that means it continues to be National Poetry Month. I wrote a bit about that in last week’s newsletter, but I bring it up again because it struck a chord […]

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AndrewCarnegie

Andrew Carnegie, the man and his libraries

No name is more associated with public libraries than that of Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie has his name on a lot of things, to be sure — Carnegie Hall and Carnegie-Mellon University, to name a couple — but for most of the 20th century, America and a good part of the world paired the name Carnegie with […]

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Handel, National Poetry Month, Andrew Carnegie and all things library: newsletter, April 5, 2019

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,8xx) on Friday, April 5, 2019. Possibly the most fun part of a fun week was pouring the bees. Right. Pouring the bees.  Every spring, whether my beehives survive or not, I order “packages” of new bees. These packages are actually wooden boxes, about the size […]

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MichaelConnelly

Michael Connelly, jury trials, NYC’s first female detective, and getting ready for National Poetry Month: newsletter, March 29, 2019

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,854) on Friday, March 29, 2019. Gardening has taken me from using a tiller attached to a tractor last week to this week using a smaller motorized tiller, a trencher, and finally a hoe. The result (so far): one row of onions is in the […]

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PalaceTheater

America’s first female police officer, Dan Jenkins, lots of emails, and a modest proposal: newsletter, March 22, 2019

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,866) on Friday, March 22, 2019.   The tractor came out of the barn and had a pretty good workout this week. We had a string of dry days that allowed me — finally! — to get into the garden with some much-needed sub-soiling and […]

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MillerHall1

The college admissions scandal: a modest proposal

What has practically every story you’ve read or heard during the last couple of weeks about the college admissions scandal had in common? The journalists and commentators have consistently used the terms elite colleges or elite universities. They have done without any critical assessment of the terms themselves, and therein lies a problem — possibly The Problem. We […]

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Emma Lathen: a dual force in mystery literature

If you were an avid reader of mystery novels in the 1960s, you were probably aware of three female mystery writers more than any others: Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Emma Lathen. Emma Lathen? While Christie and Sayers have achieved immortality in the realms of mystery fiction, Lathen has all but disappeared. Yet her […]

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Dan Jenkins, 1928-2019, RIP

Back in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, if you had a sacred cow — particularly if it had to do with sports or anything connected — Dan Jenkins would come along and push it over. And make you laugh while he was doing it. Jenkins was one of an elite group of sportswriters who worked […]

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OleBurt2

Dick Francis, forensics, jury trials, and Ole Bert: newsletter, March 15, 2019

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,875) on Friday, March 15, 2019.     The news of this week of a major scandal in the collegiate admissions process has captured, and in some cases (mine) captivated, the attention of the nation, and rightly so. Having spent much of my adult life […]

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Dick Francis, a top jockey and an even better mystery writer

When Dick Francis took his horse Devon Loch up over the last hurdle at the 1956 Grand National Steeplechase, he was on top of the British racing world — which was quite a place to be since racing, literally, was the sport of kings. He led the field, and the finish line was in sight. Devon […]

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The Belfast Project’s secret tapes, Facebook’s (and our) profound mistake, and more on America’s first female detective: newsletter, March 8, 2019

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,884) on Friday, March 8, 2019.     March is not the most reliable of months weatherwise in East Tennessee — not like January or July. More often than not, the first week of March is balmy, giving us a little pre-spring, if you will. […]

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Kate Warne, the first female detective (part 2)

Kate Warne wanted to become an actress. A Canadian by birth, she found herself in the mid-1850s in Chicago and recently widowed. Then she saw an advertisement, and it changed her direction and an entire profession. The ad was from the Pinkerton Detective Agency and said agents were being hired. It said nothing about “male […]

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Kate Warne, the world’s first female detective (part 1)

If the name of Kate Warne is unknown to you, you’re not alone. Most of the world has never heard of her, that is too bad — particularly with those of us in the detective-fiction-to-true-crime crowd. Kate Warne, as far as we can tell, is the first woman ever hired as a fulltime, true-to-life detective. […]

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Who was Jack the Ripper? That’s not the important question

Who was Jack the Ripper — possibly the most famous murderer in history? Decades of evidence and speculation have surrounded that question and provided no definitive answer. But for Hallie Rubenhold, author of the recently-published The Five, that’s not the important question. The really important question is this: Who were his victims? We know their […]

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The Belfast Project tapes and the murder of Jean McConville

The Troubles is how everyone refers to it — the violence that wracked Northern Ireland for much of the latter half of the 20th century. It was a vicious and violent time that produced few heroes and no honor. All three sides in the confict — the Catholics, the Protestants, and the British Army — committed […]

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Ireland, the first female detective, and Aristotle on storytelling: newsletter, March 1, 2019

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,980) on Friday, March 1, 2019.     Ireland (rather than Georgia) has been on my mind this week — purely by coincidence. I mentioned last week that I was reading my first Tana French book, Faithful Place, which is set in Dublin. Then I heard from […]

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