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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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Act 5, Scene 1: Irene's Twilight Zone

Act 5, Scene 1: Irene’s Twilight Zone See whole poem, "The Main Show," and index of scenes.  (Spotlight opens on the lobby of the theater.  Characters who remain in the lobby enter the theater, which remains dark.  Joan the nurse tells the tour guide to also go in, and the narrator hangs back awhile.) Joan: Go ahead in. I’ll stay with my patient.Anyway, this is a family…See More
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Guide to Antebellum Flat Rock

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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
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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

Mountains stories both artistic and raw

by Rob Neufeld

 

            If you want to see where poetry and high-test poverty blend in Appalachian fiction, take a shot of “Sinners of Sanction County.” 

            I’d reviewed Charles Dodd White’s home-from-WWI novel, “Lambs of Men,” a few years ago, and was transported by its claws.  His story collection has just come to my attention, as has its publisher, Bottom Dog Press, which features the “Appalachian Writing Series.”  See editor Larry R. Smith’s description of working-class fiction at smithdocs.net/AppalachianFiction.

            In “Hawkins’ Boy,” the first story in “Sinners,” a mountain man who can’t pay funeral fees, buries his epileptic son in winter ground; and reburies the pieces after dogs tear the body up.  In “Controlled Burn,” the second story, the FBI burns a mountainside—including a family’s cabin—when an end-of-the-world group’s weapons cache is discovered.

            “Carrion,” the third story, features a roadkill salvager.  “Age of Stone” turns up a WPA tunnel-blasting crew, landslide victims, and a bushwhacker.

            What makes these stories compelling is not the grisly and weird subjects, primarily; but rather their authenticity, which is fused with the narrative voice, which sings with the energy of a controlled burn.

            When morning comes to the father in the first story, “the paleness of the visible world freed him from thoughts that encrusted his skull like gems set tight against his brain, black as bibles.”

            In the story, “Confederates,” the narrator takes his late father’s Vietnam War buddy into a tourist shop to use the restroom, and encounters a suspicious clerk, who figures him “a threat to his vast collection of flamingos, Lincoln Logs, water pistols, books on tape and imitation headdresses.  I gave him the finger for no particular reason.”

            White doesn’t glorify or condemn his characters; he watches them flail heroically in an un-heroic game of survival.

THE BOOK

Sinners of Sanction County: Stories by Charles Dodd White (Bantam Dog Press trade paper, 157 pages, $17)

THE AUTHOR

Charles Dodd White teaches English at South College in Asheville.  See his website.

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