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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

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Dave Minneman, heroic portrait

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Connie Regan-Blake updated an event
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A Slice of Life: An Evening of Stories at Black Mountain Center for the Arts

April 21, 2018 from 7:30pm to 9pm
Saturday, April 21, 2018 at 7:30 pm, join nationally celebrated storyteller, Connie Regan-Blake, as she hosts her "Taking the Stage" workshop participants, for an enchanting evening of storytelling in picturesque Black Mountain, NC. You'll enjoy a variety of stories and storytelling styles featuring tellers Jane O Cunningham from Rome, GA; Gabriele Marewski from Black Mountain, NC; Christine Phillips Westfeldt - Fairview,…See More
Mar 21
Glenda Council Beall posted a blog post

Writers Circle around the Table

We are located in Hayesville, NC. In April we begin our new season with outstanding Poet Mike James. Mike will read at Writers' Night Out in Blairsville, GA on Friday evening April 13. On Saturday, April 14, he will teach a class at my studio.Formally SpeakingThis class will focus on different types of traditional poetic forms such as the sonnet, the villanelle, and the sestina, and will also include other verse forms such as erasures, found poems, prose poems, and last poems.Contact Glenda…See More
Mar 12
Caroline McIntyre posted an event
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Rachel Carson, Silent Spring Chautauqua History Alive at UNC Asheville, OLLI Reuters Center, Manheimer Room

April 15, 2018 from 3pm to 4:30pm
Step inside the revolutionary book, Silent Spring as its author Rachel Carson reveals the reckless destruction of our living world. Written more than 55 years ago Silent Spring inspired the Environmental Movement and has never been out of print. And now you have a chance to ask the author, Rachel Carson, how this came to be. But these aren’t just performances. They’re a chance to step into Living History – to ask questions and go one on one with a women whose books shaped our country and our…See More
Mar 7
Lynn Hamilton-Rutherford posted blog posts
Mar 7
Lynn Hamilton-Rutherford commented on Glenda Council Beall's photo
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lexie on deck_edited-1

"She looks like I look in my imagination right before I've had my coffee ... relaxed, bothered (by something, anything) and fully aware that I'm almost, but not quite, the center of the universe ... a feeling that quickly fades after that…"
Mar 4
Lynn Hamilton-Rutherford replied to Kathryn Stripling Byer's discussion Mary Adams's new chapbook COMMANDMENT
"This is so perfect ... the thought of every woman, who KNOWS what the men are thinking!  But now at least we have an idea! This makes me happy in a sad, lovely sort of way!"
Mar 4
Lynn Hamilton-Rutherford posted a photo

Mom in Her Writing Nook ...

She was working on the "About the Authors" section of "Echoes Across the Blue Ridge" when I captured this one morning. Though you can't see it, her coffee cup was within gentle reach that morning. Roxie is at her feet.
Mar 4
Carolyn Bennett Fraiser updated their profile photo
Feb 15
Harold N. Stern updated their profile
Feb 6
Glenda Council Beall posted a photo

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Lexie likes to sleep in the sunshine even on cold days.
Feb 6
Nancy Werking Poling posted a photo

Latest non-fiction book

In 1945 Indiana prohibited marriage between a white person and anyone with more than one-eighth "Negro blood." Yet Daniel (black) and Anna (white) gave up family, friends, and eventually even country to create a life together. Their 42-year marriage…
Feb 5
Nancy Werking Poling replied to Rob Neufeld's discussion Bent Creek, the 4-part story
"Rob, Thanks for putting this into one document. I've been following the narrative in the Citizen-Times. I find it an added resource for my next writing project. In 1910 my husband's grandfather (1866-1947) showed up in Missouri and said…"
Feb 5
Rebecca L Caldwell updated their profile
Feb 5
Lee Ann Brown replied to Rob Neufeld's discussion Writer Olive Dargan rises from obscurity
"Great Article!  Heart wrenching about her destroyed manuscripts and letters and notes but I will look for more of Olive Dargan!     Lee Ann Brown"
Feb 5
Rob Neufeld posted discussions
Feb 4
Rap Monster posted a blog post

THE BANG BANG BROKERS HITS AMAZON PRIME WITH A BANG

Focusing on the aftermath of the 2008 Financial Crisis, The Bang Bang Brokers tells the story of a hedge fund manager (based on a composite of real life traders) who got rich off of predicting the subprime fallout. His guilt and suicidal impulses lead him to a chance meeting with a Latino Gang, headed by small time weed dealer Ramon (Erik Michael Estrada). In hopes that Ramon will kill him in exchange for the favor, Rolley (played by Donihue) robs a rival Black Gang, earning the pair a ton of…See More
Feb 4

Senehi’s novel is full of local apple knowledge

by Rob Neufeld

           

            “We’re living in the last days of the Southern apple,” Belle McKenzie, the heroine in Rose Senehi’s new novel, “Carolina Belle” (K.I.M. Publishing), exclaims.  “Maybe ninety percent are now extinct.”

            Following Belle’s business passion—an orchard revival movement—alongside her romantic problems and suspenseful probings provides a long overdue treatment of Western North Carolina apple history in fiction.

            To give Belle legitimacy, Senehi connects her, through her mother’s father, “Pap” McGrady, to the region’s Johnny Appleseed, William Mills, a Tory commander at the Battle of Kings Mountain.

            There are a lot of legends associated with Mills in local history.  The one of him being the father of the Henderson County apple industry is one of the false ones, according to Jennie Jones Giles on her “Henderson Heritage” website.  Mills, a land speculator, had been one of many farmers in the Mills River area who’d grown apple trees.  And then, the industry didn’t take off until the 1920s here.

            But that matters little to Senehi’s novel, which places Belle (born, Annabelle) within a proven romance tradition.

            She’s a member of a kind of aristocracy—one that literally gets its hands dirty—as well as a modern version of the headstrong Regency heroine.

            One of my favorite business-plus-romance moments in the novel is when, in April, Belle checks on one of her orchards and drinks in the pollination scene.  “The energy of the orgy going on all about her took hold of Belle,” Senehi writes, “and awakened the yearning she was feeling more and more these days, a yearning for Matt.”

            You can see how the yearning gets into the language.  Senehi doesn’t write, “awakened the yearning she was feeling for Matt.”  She keens, “more and more these days”; and she repeats the word, “yearning” for effect.

            On the other hand, Belle can think, and Senehi write, like this: “She sliced the apple in two at the equator, exposing a swirl of dark seeds, then pulled a spray bottle with an iodine mixture from the basket.”

            Senehi’s research into her subject includes working six months in an experimental orchard.  “Carolina Belle” (the name of the variety Belle is trying to engender) is Senehi’s eighth novel, and continues to show that research is one of Senehi’s hallmarks.

 

Suspenseful plot

 

            When it comes to plotting, Senehi is expert.  She gets enough going to make sure the suspense is complex, and the dramatic resolutions multiple.

            Matt—a guy with tight abs for whom Belle yearns—had broken disastrously with Belle in their college-age days, and their misdeeds put a double-edged wedge between them.  But they are also business partners, for Matt works for Pap, who treats Matt like a son.

            Into this charged scenario walks Ken Larsen, a gorgeous man with blue eyes and a stubble beard who’s buying up orchards to start a cidery.

            Pap oversees the drama, as does his elderly neighbor, Jake, a gentle-hearted preserver of heirloom apples.  Jake’s son had been involved in a car accident that had killed Pap’s daughter.

            Yet despite Pap’s coldness toward him, Jake finds solace in Belle, whose mentor he becomes.  Into Jake’s character, Senehi pours her spiritual ideal.  Belle calls Jake an “everyman in (a) non-descript outfit.”

            “Most of us are born, live and die as ordinary people, with little to distinguish us from the millions around us,” Jake says.  “Only occasionally does a human rise above the crowd by mental genius or exceptional ability…This goes for apples, too.”

            Jake’s character works.  So does that of his brother, the practiced lawyer.  Belle’s character often works, and she provides funny and touching moments.  I have to say, though, Matt’s character is in ways ridiculous.  He reminds me at times of Calvin reacting to Susie Derkins in “Calvin and Hobbes.”

 

Depth soundings

 

            People can want two different things in a novel: a vehicle for entertainment and information; or an experience that puts you in touch with existential depths.

            What’s a good sign of existential depth?  One of the key ones, I think, is a narrative that feels like dream reality, without nonsensical dream-world logic.

            For instance, this is what a key moment feels like in “Carolina Belle”:

            Belle, Pap, Matt, and Matt’s step-father, Raphael, are about to face their first hazard—a hailstorm just before picking time—and Belle goes into high gear, remarking on fate.

            “Jagged marble-sized orbs bounced on the ground,” Senehi writes.  “As the hail piled up, a sickening feeling overcame (Belle), like she was sinking in quicksand and about to smother.  Then someone whispered in the marauder’s ear that the damage was finally done, and the pelting turned into a gentle rain and stopped.”

            Senehi’s narration must race forward.  The colorful prose is a concession to Belle’s thought process.  If the novel were to be more dreamlike—that is, more mental—the narration would occur in the time of the remembering, and there would be a lot more going on in the expanded impression of the intense experience.

            “Please God,” Belle prays, “don’t let anything happen to this crop.  Pap’s got too much riding on it.” 

            Do you want to know the things that Pap associates with loss and spoilage?  Senehi will connect you with one big tragedy.  But Pap doesn’t unconsciously try to connect resonant experiences in his life in order to see a pattern; he’s not haunted; and nothing seriously odd and inexplicable happens.

            Instead, Pap is a type, a stoic, hard-working, master orchardist who shows that he can loosen his guard a little in the end.  These kinds of developments are always fulfilling when done well, as Senehi demonstrates.

 

Rob Neufeld writes the weekly book feature for the Sunday Citizen-Times.  He is the author and editor of six books, and the publisher of the website, “The Read on WNC.”   He can be reached at RNeufeld@charter.net and 505-1973.  Follow him @WNC_chronicler.

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