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Rob Neufeld commented on Deborah Worley-Holman's photo
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Peter McClay "M.C." Worley

"Great photo, Deborah!  Have you got some stories and details?"
Monday
Rob Neufeld posted discussions
Sunday
Christine Lajewski posted a blog post

Discussing JHATOR at UCC in Norwell, MA

JHATOR was chosen as the summer read for the book club at the United Church of Christ in Norwell, MA.  Today, the Rev. Deborah Spratley hosted an author's brunch and discussion of the book with me and members of both the book club and writer's group at the church.One of the first things I learned from the group members, who are approaching the book from a Christian POV, is that starting the book with Anat, the vulture, was unsettling for most of them.  Of course, that is the point of Chapter…See More
Sunday
Rob Neufeld posted discussions
Saturday
Jerald Pope posted an event
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The Backyard as Metaphor: Poems on Cattle, Gardening & Goats: a Poetry Reading and Discussion with Tina Barr at Monte Vista Hotel

August 21, 2014 from 5:45pm to 7pm
The Black Mountain Author’s Guild will present nationally known poet, Tina Barr, this Third Thursday at 6pm at the Monte Vista Hotel. Ms. Barr will read a twenty minute series of poems set in Black Mountain, and will follow the reading with a discussion of her process for generating ideas in poems, with lots of audience interaction.  She will bring in a series of drafts demonstrating her revision process, from rough draft to published poem, and talk about fictionalizing elements so they move…See More
Aug 12
Doris Anne Beaulieu posted a blog post

Wishing Witch

Wishing WitchMy Halloween screenplay is funny as can be It’s funny how witchcraft is what we need to seeBrewing up trouble with all your classmates The teacher will get angry, make no mistakeCrazy riddles from a child can be so scary Being her classmate leaves you feeling waryYou may start a princess and end as a boar As her riddles will leave you in an uproarWill you return to normal after all this nonsense Is the question that has everyone in suspenseYou may not have believed in the…See More
Aug 11
City Lights Bookstore posted an event
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Timm Muth to Present His Fantasy Novel at City Lights Bookstore

August 30, 2014 from 3pm to 4:30pm
Jackson County resident, Timm Muth will read from and sign his new fantasy novel on Saturday, August 30th at 3 p.m. at City Lights Bookstore.  Disciple of the Flames chronicles the story of Darn, whose life as a herder’s son was hard, dirty and not in the least adventurous. Fate intervenes when on a journey with his father, a stranger saves Darn from a near fatal rousting by local bullies, eventually leading to Darn’s induction into a powerful religious and military order: The Disciple of…See More
Aug 9
Malaprop's Bookstore Cafe posted events
Aug 9
Doris Anne Beaulieu posted blog posts
Aug 7
Sharon Gruber posted an event
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Social Function of Narrative in Appalachian Society with Charlotte Ross at Ferguson Auditorium - A-B Tech Campus

August 9, 2014 from 2pm to 3:30pm
Presented by the Asheville History Center - Smith McDowell House in conjunction with the exhibition Hillbilly Land:  Myth and Reality of Appalachian Culture currently on view at the Smith McDowell House. Made possible through a grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council.See More
Aug 6
Caralyn Davis posted a blog post

New Essay Published at Dr. TJ Eckleburg Review

My new essay "A Damn Fine Female Body Part" is live at the Doctor TJ Eckleburg Review. It is NSFW, covering the topics of curse words, sexual objectification, and the actor Norman Reedus of The Walking Dead, all in under 2,000 words! See More
Aug 5
Deborah Worley-Holman posted a photo

Peter McClay "M.C." Worley

My grandfatherm M.C. Worley 1894-1983 who was a musician and instrument maker.
Aug 5
Dave Turner posted a blog post
Aug 4
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Book discussions in WNC, August 2014

WNC BOOK DISCUSSION CALENDAR, AUGUST 2014Friday, August 1BOOK CLUB: The Best? Books book club holds a book discussion at the College Walk Retirement Center, 100 N. College Row, Brevard, 10:30 a.m. Call 884-3151, ext. 226.Saturday, August 2 Sunday, August 3ROYAL BOOK CLUB: The ROYAL Book Club meets to discuss “Darius and Twig” by…See More
Aug 3
Doris Anne Beaulieu posted a blog post

Read All About It

READ ALL ABOUT ITStories all of 100 years old Bribery And Blackmail They have to be retoldDefinitions of words have surely changed as Kilts And Reefers are now explained.Two Kinds Of Success stories That Work Both Ways Stealing From Citiesand the Faithful Toby wayNo Poison In The Wallpaper is History Rewritten With A Humble Helperand Powerful CompetitionLike a Scene In A Play The Counterpane Got Smutty He Raised The Bid todaywas a story so funnyStriking A Light was crazy amazing but Obeying The…See More
Aug 3
Christine Lajewski posted a blog post

New web site posting

"When the Thief Gets Old," an update on Jet at Christine-lajewski.squarespace.comSee More
Aug 2

Horror and home call in Fairview novel

by Rob Neufeld

 

            In the midst of multiple life-changing events, Karen Godwell abandons Manhattan to return home to Hickory Nut Gap in Rose Senehi’s sixth novel, “Render unto the Valley.”

            Karen’s brother, Travis, has just defrauded their grandmother of the family farm.  And Karen’s husband, Joel, has just died of cancer. 

            After 15 years, she realizes that she may not be cut out to be Curator of Special Exhibitions in the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  The Folk Art Center director job in Asheville is open, and she takes a big cut in salary to make the move.

            With her is her ten-year-old daughter, Hali, who’d been mentored by her free-thinking father.  He’d asked her to make sure her mom was okay after he passed.  Plus, there’s a cat, named Bonnie.

 

Home to horror

 

            Back home, Karen quickly meets up with her younger sister, Amy, a kennel operator; and with Travis, a panic-inducing wheeler-dealer with a hidden psychosis.

            We learn about the psychosis in the first chapter, dated February 1985, a flashback to Karen’s childhood involving a floosy mother and extreme poverty. 

            The kids had had to collect kindling for winter heat.  One day, Karen had roused Amy, prying Missy, Amy’s puppy, from her arms.  She “watched the poor little critter limp across the room on three legs.  Of all the hateful things Travis ever did, cutting off Missy’s leg was the meanest.”

            In a fiction-writing tradition that includes William Faulkner’s character, Cash, in “The Sound and the Fury,” the creepy family member has proven to be a great plot device.  Senehi uses it in a thriller formula, and does a great job ramping up suspense.  The Travis story builds in creepiness and Senehi gets a lot out of it. 

What complicity did Karen share in protecting and enabling Travis as a child; and then skipping town to leave Amy with him?  And why did Amy, Karen asks herself about recent events, “allow Travis to stay alone in the house with Granny”?  What had gone on in the house when Travis had gotten Granny to sign over all her money and property to him?  Can Granny, now in a nursing home suffering from dementia, help?

            Other suspense elements pile on, including the trials of a beleaguered land conservation agency; and the romantic interests of its legal counsel, Tom Gibbons.  Senehi has no problem interweaving these story lines smartly.

            Filling a novel with an ambitious amount of melodramatic incident is one way of writing a good novel.  It’s a ship-in-a-storm type of vehicle.  Doing so, however, misses out on an aspect of realism—the degree to which lives are dominated by humdrum events and interpretations of their symbolism.

            For example, the part of Karen’s mind rooted to her profession—she’d been a workaholic in the top of her field for her adult life—gets short shrift.  And what about Bonnie, the cat?  There are pets all over this story.  Bonnie is a huge symbol as well as a companion.  In another novel, Hali, much less sure of herself, would be paying attention to her cat.

 

Local details

 

            Senehi offsets suspense with local preservation and history details, and delivers handsomely.

            “You remember the deal Jack Reece made for the Grassy Patch Mountain tract over in Lake Lure?” Tom Gibbons asks his director, Kevin.  Reece’s conservation agency had backed out of the sale and passed it to Kevin’s and Tom’s.

            It’s not hard to detect its real-life parallel in Weedy Patch Mountain.

            History comes up again when Karen’s cousin, Bruce, responds to Hali’s interest in medicine. “Back in the 1800s,” he says, “there used to be a woman who owned the Sherrill’s Inn property who doctored folks.  Her name was Ann Ashworth and they called her a witch” because of her use of herbs and formulas.

            Senehi has dedicated her book, “For Bruce Whitaker who has kept the history of Fairview.”

            There are many other local references in the novel.  Senehi provides an index to “places mentioned in this book” in an appendix. 

The geography seeps into personal lives, as when Tom takes further interest in Karen when he learns that she’d told Hali about the rare species of salamander that resides on Karen’s family’s land.

            As in a “Mission: Impossible” movie, Senehi pulls some punches in “Render unto the Valley” in order to guide her plot toward a prescribed end; but even late in the novel, there are some intriguing surprises.

            Ignore the archaic title and glib first paragraph—the only place where you’ll find literary metaphors—and enjoy the ride.  Karen and her sister provide headstrong leadership; and Tom and Bruce, great commentary.

 

THE BOOK

Render unto the Valley by Rose Senehi (K.I.M. Publishing trade paper, Jan. 2012, 292 pages, $15.95).

 

MEET THE AUTHOR

Rose Senehi launches her novel, “Render unto the Valley,” 12 noon, Thurs., Jan. 19, at Lake Lure Inn, with lunch ($25 per person to benefit the Mountains Branch Library, call  

She also presents her book at:

  • Malaprop’s Bookstore, 55 Haywood St., Asheville, 3 p.m., Sat. Jan. 28 (254-6734).
  • Barnes & Noble, Tunnel Rd., Asheville, 1 to 4 p.m., Sun., Jan. 29.
  • Fountainhead Books, 408 N. Main St., Hendersonville, 6:30 p.m., Fri., Feb. 3 (697-1870).
  • Barnes & Noble, Town Square at Biltmore Park, Asheville, 1 to 4 p.m., Sun., Feb. 5.
  • Hendersonville Public Library, 301 N. Washington St., Hendersonville, 2 p.m., Wed., Feb. 8 (697-4725).

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