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Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Interview with Isaac Coleman, 2011

A 2011 interview with the late activist, Isaac Coleman by Rob NeufeldCivil rights activist and local civic leader Isaac Coleman, born Nov. 6, 1943 in Lexington, Ky., lived his last 44 years in Asheville, and died on May 10, 2016,.We talked in 2011 about his career, starting with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1960. Q:  Was the SNCC your first involvement in civil rights? A:   I was a student at Knoxville College, an African-American College in Knoxville, Tennessee, and…See More
May 22
Lockie Hunter posted an event
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Stories by the River Benefit for Girls Rock Asheville at Ole Shakeys 790 Riverside Drive in AVL

May 21, 2016 from 7pm to 9pm
Sip a drink by the river and enjoy stories and songs on a warm spring day!All donations benefit Girls Rock Asheville!Stories read by:Lori Horvitz  Melanie McGee Bianchi  Kim Winter Mako  Ky Delaney  and Lockie Huntermusical guests Leo+VirgoSee More
May 18
Sue Diehl posted an event
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Montreat College Friends of the Library Annual Luncheon at Montreat College, Gaither Fellowship Hall

June 4, 2016 from 12pm to 2pm
Author Susan S. Kelly will the speaker at Montreat College Friends of the Library annual luncheon at noon on Saturday, June 4, 2016.  She is the author of five novels and a major contributing author to Our State Magazine.Call 828-669-8012 Ext. 3502 for Reservations.  $16.00See More
May 17
Sheilah Jastrzebski replied to Rob Neufeld's discussion The history of Oakley
"This is an interesting article.  It gives a few clues to the neighborhood I imagine from the old days. The woman from who my husband and I bought our Oakley home, Melody,  always talks about "Mr. Wilson" who entrusted her with…"
May 16
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

The history of Oakley

Oakley is a place with an unforgettable historyby Rob NeufeldAn earlier time PHOTO CAPTION: The Taylor family of Oakley: Jean, Virgil, Sadie Louise, and Dan, c. 1936.  Photo courtesy Dan Taylor.            “We had hobos come to our house, and my mother would never turn them away,” Dan Taylor says of his experience…See More
May 13
Rob Neufeld posted blog posts
May 13
Lockie Hunter posted an event
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Juniper Bends quarterly poetry and prose reading at Downtown Books and News

May 6, 2016 from 7pm to 9pm
Join your fellow literature-craving citizens at the next upcoming Juniper Bends reading on Friday May 6th at 7PM. We will be luxuriating in sound, soaking up nutritious poetry & prose after the dark winter. Our series aims to bring together both established and emerging writers, and we are honored to bring together Gary Hawkins, Catherine Campbell, Stephanie Johnson and Michael Pittard's collective word-magic for this lovely spring evening. As usual, our generous host site is Downtown Books…See More
May 3
Jack Underwood shared a profile on Facebook
May 3
Rob Neufeld commented on Rob Neufeld's blog post The Invention of Nature, an inspiring book--author Andrea Wulf at Malaprop's May 1
"Edwin, some are touched by the Holy Spirit, and find voice to our amazement.  Yet there are many who are not heard, no matter how much we'd like to hear.  How will you amaze? "
May 2
Edwin Ammons commented on Rob Neufeld's blog post The Invention of Nature, an inspiring book--author Andrea Wulf at Malaprop's May 1
"Do none consider that a greater power has designed all this and that all these recent discoveries are a tiny part of it? von Humboldt will not rise from the dust until I do and I am still upright so he must wait. Upon that eventful day it will be…"
May 2
Joe Epley posted a blog post

Military Writers Society of America

Joe Epley recently was elected to Board of Directors of the Military Writers Society of America.  The MWSA has around 700 members around the country. Details on the website: http://www.mwsadispatches.com.  ; The organization's purpose is to help military service members, veterans, their families, supporters of the military,and historians record history and the complexities of military life--and encourage writing as therapy. The…See More
May 1
susannah eanes commented on Rob Neufeld's blog post The Invention of Nature, an inspiring book--author Andrea Wulf at Malaprop's May 1
"So chuffed about this! Sadly, I won't be there except in spirit. Andrea Wulf is a force of nature, herself. Her amazing work The Brother Gardeners should be made into a feature-length film - the characters live and breathe again between the…"
Apr 30
Evelyn Asher updated their profile
Apr 30
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

The Invention of Nature, an inspiring book--author Andrea Wulf at Malaprop's May 1

Author of key book of our times comes to AshevilleAndrea Wulf makes Malaprop's Bookstore one her stops, Sun., May 1, 5 p.m., in talking about her thrilling work of non-fiction, The Invention of Nature: Alexander von…See More
Apr 30
Rob Neufeld's discussion was featured

Salman Rushdie to Asheville with new novel

Atheist believes in genies, novel revealsby Rob Neufeld             Salman Rushdie’s latest novel—“Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights” (1,001 nights)—has permitted me to come up with a headline as wild as the one above because the book is so exuberantly and infectiously…See More
Apr 25
Julia Nunnally Duncan updated their profile
Apr 25

David Madden's new novel, London Bridge in Plague and Fire

Knoxville literary magician pens his “Moby Dick”

by Rob Neufeld

See review.

 

            Novelist David Madden grew up in a two-room shack in Knoxville and—after years soaking in the magic of that town; serving in the army; and studying at the University of Tennessee, San Francisco State, and Yale—has become one of the most accomplished literary writers in America. 

            For 25 years, he was Writer-in Residence at Louisiana State University; and for three years after that, the director of the creative writing program there.

            He now lives in Black Mountain with his wife Robbie, near their son’s family.  His tenth novel (and 39th book), “London Bridge in Plague and Fire,” has just been published, to great early acclaim.

            Madden launches his book locally at Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café, 7 p.m., Nov. 10.  He speaks at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Nov. 12.

            Madden’s writing career is marked by a distinctive devotion to the powers of dramatic and compassionate imagination.  Each of his novels is different from the others, taking the form of its material.  The following interview expands on that appreciation.  A review of the novel appears in this column next week.  Also visit www.davidmadden.net to see future author events.

 

Q:  How was “London Bridge in Plague and Fire” born?

 

A:  When I was 16, I saw Henry V with Laurence Olivier.  The opening credits show ancient London Bridge, with all the houses and shops on it.  About 50 years ago, I saw the movie again, and I was intrigued.  I made a note, “ancient London Bridge would be a great setting for a musical.” …One day, I just decided to do it.  Every night, just before leaving my study to go to bed, I devoted 10 to 20 minutes to listening to voices from the bridge, speaking about the bridge in very bizarre terms.  

 

Q:  What did that produce?

 

A:  I ended up with 200 pages of unusable surrealistic feelings, thoughts, and voices derived from reading a single book—the best book, “Old London Bridge” by Gordon Home…I went to London and found that nobody that I talked to, including members of Parliament, knew who Peter de Colechurch, the architect of the bridge, was…When he built his bridge (completed in 1205), it was the first stone bridge in Europe since the Romans went back to Italy.  The number of shops and houses made it unique...My inspiration was this feeling: what a marvelous, small community, and all those lives and merchants, and people working in shops that were at the most 12 feet wide, and houses at the most six stories high, but incredibly narrow, with views to the east and west.

 

Q:  In addition to the architect’s voice, there’s also the poet, Daryl Braintree.

 

A: I created his voice and found that it was unclear when he was speaking in the narrative, and when I was speaking.  So, I let it stand as ambiguous since I think the two of us merged in the various drafts…There are, by the way, ten huge drafts…I built the bridge with Peter de Colechurch in one version, and I called that, “London Bridge Rising.”  Then there was “London Bridge Falling,” about plague and fire.  Then, what I’ve done is collapse the two into the published novel, which is “London Bridge in Plague and Fire.”  A fourth one was going to be a book of the poems only.  They were called “London Bridge Nocturnes.”

 

Q:  You’re like Herman Melville.

 

A:  Yeah, it’s my “Moby Dick.”  I have combined the essential elements of all the versions into one novel.

 

Q:  There are lurid plots in your novel, based on history—such as the sacrifice of 13-year-old virgins to protect the bridge.  How do you turn sensationalist material into Southern Gothic in literary ways?

 

A:  I would say the influence on me is “Absalom, Absalom.”  It’s interesting you should say Southern Gothic because it could be that only a Southerner could have written this seemingly un-Southern story.  I’m a Southern writer who keeps writing outside the South.  

 

Q:  Your upcoming trip to Knoxville makes me think of how you mythologize your hometown in such books as your novel, “Bijou.”  What is so rich about the place?

 

A:  The look of Knoxville—its seven hills, like Rome—during the Civil War, there were batteries on all those hills.  The bridges.  By the way, about the origin of “London Bridge”—it was Gay Street Bridge in Knoxville.  I used to go down there in a trembling sense of excitement (as a youth), and walk across it, skipping over the broken parts, which is right there in “London Bridge in Plague and Fire.”  I could see the river below, where the pavement had been punched through, and look down on the life below, which was ancient Knoxville slums, and houseboats.  Anything—cemeteries, old houses, Knoxville High School—I was the last graduating class—my own home, which was a shack.  I was born in a two-room shack…I wrote a few passages of “London Bridge” on two or three visits to Gay Street Bridge when I couldn’t do it at home…(Then there’s) the geography (of Knoxville)—the mountains in the distance—that’s why I love Black Mountain and the Asheville area— because it’s like Knoxville.  I’d be in Knoxville if it weren’t for my son being here.

LEARN MORE

David Madden launches his novel, “London Bridge in Plague and Fire,”

at Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café, 55 Haywood St., Asheville.  Call 254-6734.

See more of the interview on “The Read on WNC” at TheReadonWNC.ning.com.

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