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Interview with Gail Godwin about Grief Cottage

Started by Rob Neufeld in AC-T Book Reviews Aug 3, 2017.

Ellington in Asheville--a survey

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History Oct 6, 2017.

Dave Minneman, heroic portrait

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History Aug 25, 2017.

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Guide to Antebellum Flat Rock

"The introduction of my new publication, Guide to Antebellum Flat Rock will be launched on Sept 14 2019 at 1:30 PM at the Henderson County Court House 500 Main Street. A talk and a brief slide show follows with refreshments afterward. …"
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Nancy Werking Poling posted an event

Nancy Werking Poling at Black Mountain Library

June 15, 2019 from 3pm to 4pm
Can women rescue the planet from ecological disaster?Nancy Werking Poling will launch her new novel, WHILE EARTH STILL SPEAKS, set in WNC. She'll tell the stories behind the story: How did Mary (more crone than virgin) get into the narrative? And Mary Surratt, a co-conspirator of John Wilkes Booth?See More
Jun 10
Caroline McIntyre posted events
Apr 29
Rob Neufeld updated their profile
Apr 13
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Flat Rock history via a road

Travelling back in time on a Flat Rock roadby Rob Neufeld             If you walk the one mile length of North Highland Lake Road in Flat Rock, you step nearly 200 years into the past.            At the east end, the 21st century reigns.  Fronting six-lane Spartanburg Highway, a super-Ingles sits above a bog; and a CVS store faces an Octopus Garden smoke shop, a chiropractor, a cell phone provider, and a six-lane avenue to I-26 a mile away .            Neither Ingles nor CVS carries the big…See More
Apr 8
George Ellison left a comment for Renea Winchester
"luv ya Renea ... Kephart bio finally done after 40 years ... free at last ... free at last... great god almighty ... free a last!"
Apr 5
Connie Regan-Blake posted an event
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Connie Regan-Blake Storytelling at Hendersonville Public Library at Henderson County Public Library - Main Branch

June 13, 2019 from 6pm to 7pm
Join Connie Regan-Blake for a family oriented evening of stories at the Hendersonville Library.See More
Apr 1
Connie Regan-Blake updated an event
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Connie Regan-Blake’s 14th Annual Summer Storytelling Retreat & Adventure at StoryWindow Productions

July 14, 2019 at 10am to July 20, 2019 at 4pm
Come to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville for 7 days of story-listening & story-telling along with coaching, community & supportive exploration. This 14th annual workshop welcomes all levels of expertise, from beginner to experienced teller. Participants discover ways of being in the world that nurture your creative flow while developing skills to: Find, create, learn, and polish storiesEffectively integrate voice with image,…See More
Apr 1
Connie Regan-Blake updated an event
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Connie Regan-Blake presents A Slice of Life: An Evening of Stories at Black Mountain Center for the Arts

April 6, 2019 from 7:30pm to 9pm
Please join nationally celebrated storyteller, Connie Regan-Blake, as she hosts her workshop participants in an enchanting evening of storytelling in “A Slice of Life: An Evening of Stories.” Here are the tellers for our April 6th “Slice of Life” performance.  Christine Phillips Westfeldt, Kyra Freeman, Steve Tate, Alberta Hipps and more! The event is hosted by the …See More
Apr 1
Connie Regan-Blake updated an event
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Connie Regan-Blake's Taking Your Story to the Stage Workshop at StoryWindow Productions

April 5, 2019 to April 7, 2019
The focus of this “Taking Your Story to the Stage” 3-day workshop is on storytelling performance. Each participant is asked to come with a story that is almost “stage-ready.” Set in Connie’s home tucked in the beautiful mountains surrounding Asheville, NC, this workshop provides a supportive,…See More
Apr 1
Rap Monster posted a blog post

Stealth Hazy - 'Gun Clap'

Stealth Hazy - Gun ClapI got 80 rounds with a beam on it riding dirty I'm smoking chronic top off hear that system pound 808 thats subsonicI double down quadruple upstraight droppin with no cutwilt chamberlain on the reboundand you a fan just starstruckI…See More
Mar 26
Connie Regan-Blake posted an event

Connie Regan-Blake’s 14th Annual Summer Storytelling Retreat & Adventure at StoryWindow Productions

July 14, 2019 at 10am to July 20, 2019 at 4pm
Come to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville for 7 days of story-listening & story-telling along with coaching, community & supportive exploration. This 14th annual workshop welcomes all levels of expertise, from beginner to experienced teller. Participants discover ways of being in the world that nurture your creative flow while developing skills to: Find, create, learn, and polish storiesEffectively integrate voice with image,…See More
Mar 2
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Feb 8
Sue Diehl posted an event
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Montreat College Friends of the Library Celebrate National Library Week at Graham Chapel, Gaither Hall, Montreat College, Montreat, NC

April 9, 2019 from 3pm to 5pm
Patti Callahan, author of the recent novel Becoming Mrs. Lewis, and Don W. King author of Out of My Bone: the Letters of Joy Davidman, A Naked Tree: Love Sonnets to C. S. Lewis, and Yet One More Spring: a Critical Study of Joy Davidman, will co-present on their works about Joy and her husband C.S. Lewis.  The event is free and open to the public on April 9, 2019 in Graham Chapel, Gaither Hall, Montreat College.Reception and Book signing to followSee More
Feb 8
William Roy Pipes posted a discussion

TWO NEW APPALACHIAN NOVELS

I have, just released two Appalachian Novels.OUT OF THE SHADOWS, begins deep in the Appalachian Mountains of in WNC. It is partly a true story about a young man who ran away from home at the age of fifteen. He meets another runaway, and they fall in love.A journey where he faced adversaries, but also success as he walked, hitchhiked, and made his way across the country.GONE LIKE A CANDLE IN THE WIND, is a story of three young people growing up in a farming community in the Appalachian…See More
Jan 28

Literary master evokes classic fantasy tale

by Rob Neufeld

 

            Let’s say you’re going to a book fair, and a guy with a long grey beard and glittering eye stops you at the entrance.  He points to worn and rebound books he’s laid out on a table: Gulliver’s Travels; The Story of Sir Launcelot; The Three Musketeers.

            And as he detains you, seven wives with seven sacks push past excitedly. 

“Hold off!  Unhand me,” you tell the grey-beard loon, and you follow the crowd to a stage where a hologram of a unicorn is nuzzling a girl dressed up like an orphan.

            “Hey,” you hear someone near you tell his companion, “are you going to the ‘How to Make a Million on a Fantasy’ workshop?”  “You bet!” she says.  “I already have a winner about a nerd messiah who’s captured inside a video game by hackers with a grudge against reality.”

            You decide to head to the sidelines, where in the shadows, you find an author who speaks in birdsong and a toad with a very old stamp album.  “This is the stuff!” you think, and then you see, smiling upon the whole spectacle, Fred Chappell—“Ol’ Fred,” his sign says.

            “Sir Chappell!” you say.  “Are you not the writer of award-winning poetry, literature, and literary criticism, not to mention a quartet of novels set in mythologized Haywood County?  What are you doing here among the soap-sellers?”

            “You forget,” he says with a mixture of combativeness and humility, “that, in my youth, I was a dark fantasy brewmeister; and that I’ve written many a sardonic and silly verse about politicians and cats.”

            I take a look at his latest production, “A Shadow of All Light,” a fantasy novel that seems to combine Miguel Cervantes, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Puss in Boots.  I do more than take a look; I read all 400 pages.

            The humor, inventiveness, and suspense are top-notch, and the concept is as sly as Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire.  In the fictional world of Tardocco—a kind of Renaissance Italian city—shadows are valuable commodities as they lend subtlety and depth to any product or enterprise; and can be stripped from their possessors by trained professionals.

            Chappell presents his new book at Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café, Asheville, 7 p.m., Fri., Apr. 15 (254-6734); Fountainhead Bookstore, Hendersonville, 7 p.m., Thurs., May 12 (697-1870); City Lights Bookstore, Sylva, 6:30 p.m., Fri., May 13 (586-9499); Great Expectations Books, Rutherfordton, Sat., May 14 (286-9616); and other N.C. locations.

 

Ingredients

 

            “A Shadow of All Light” has the charm and richness of an old classic, plus many of the features of today’s blockbusters, though, it should be noted, it bows out at the end from contention for pop sensation.

            First, there are the relationships. 

            Chappell’s young hero, Falco, is a kid who leaves his grim, dirt-farming dad to devote himself to Master Astolfo, a renowned shadow-stealer.  Despite Falco's impressive development, he never quite loses the piece of him who is a clod.

            Sent to Countess Triana’s chateau to steal a diamond that Astolfo thinks is related to the lady’s sickening, Falco submits to Astolfo’s preparations.

            “This is but feeble armory,” Falco complains, looking at the blades provided him.  “If you bear more weaponry,” Astolfo says, “you shall go clacking about like a pelican.”

            Draped in multi-colored shadows reputed to act as camouflage, Falco discovers, when guards apprehend him, that he looks like a harlequin.  (Astolfo had meant him to serve as a distraction.)  “Is he not the very paragon of ijjits?” the head guard remarks, and notes that Falco’s height requires some trimming to make him suitable to the role. 

            “I vowed,” Falco confides, “that if ever I enlisted in a guard troop, I would choose one whose leader did not fancy himself a humorist.”

 

The third hand

 

            Adding to the fun is Astolfo’s senior assistant, Mutano, whose relationship to Falco evolves from tormenter to competitor to ally.  Subplots are the substance, not the window dressing, of great fiction.  The suspense is the skeleton.

            At one point, Mutano tries to recapture his voice from a cat, into which an adversary had placed it (voices, like shadows, can be transplanted).  He latches onto the wrong attribute, however, and ends up speaking “Cattish,” which gives him some advantages; for cats play a big role in this novel, as in other Chappell arenas.

            The cat with Mutano’s voice, by the way, “would say nothing at all,” Astolfo knows, “lest it reveal some of the secrets of its mysterious race.” 

            That’s like the ritual cats undergo in Chappell’s book of poems, “Familiars.”   “Do you vow by existence One,” the initiation begins, “Never to utter the secret name/ Of any feline wild or tame/ Either in earnest of in fun?”

            “A Shadow All of Light” is thoroughly entertaining.  And yet, after moving through four amazingly strange cases in Part One; and an expedition and a moral conflict in Part Two, it progresses in the third and final part to a climactic, career-capping exploit that puts the genius in the bottle without having given it full space to grow.

            The culminating conflict is as much of a farce as a crisis.  The things we learn about shadows—including how they can sometimes have independent wills; and can be eaten by certain rare plants—do not lead to the kind of disasters that such uncontrollable potentialities suggest.

            Mutano and Falco seem to retire with Astolfo.  Given Chappell’s tale-telling virtuosity and ability to reflect on a score of things in the process, it would have been nice for the story to have ended with mysteries still lurking, and more cases to follow.

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