Affiliated Networks



Latest Activity

Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

The Land Still Speaks film and Culture Vulture fest, Oct 30

Culture festival features film about mountain eldertsfrom press releaseThe Center for Cultural Preservation presents a film festival that highlights mountain heritage, Jewish heritage and African-American heritage on October 30th at the Thomas Auditorium at Blue Ridge Community College.   The festival will feature three films, including the world premiere of a new film, The Land Still Speaks to Us which includes the voices of mountain elders throughout WNC.  There will also be music by local…See More
13 hours ago
Mark de Castrique posted an event

Malaprop's Bookstore at Malaprop's

November 9, 2015 from 7pm to 8pm
Presenting new Sam Blackman mystery A SPECTER OF JUSTICESee More
Rob Neufeld's discussion was featured

A Chronology of Asheville and WNC Events in History

                                   IMPORTANT DATES IN ASHEVILLE HISTORY                                                                 by Rob Neufeld 1000: The Cherokee, who’d introduced maize agriculture to the region, began cultivating beans. 1540: Hernando De Soto led troops to East Tennessee through either the Hickory Nut or Swannanoa Gap, finding gold and copper and inspiring a succession of Spanish miners. 1663: Charles II bestows territory between the 31st and 36th parallels in America…See More
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Root-diggers of Appalachia

People in the Lost Provinces were herb-gatherersby Rob NeufeldPHOTO CAPTION: Three herbal products offered by S.B. Penick’s, once the world’s largest herb distributor, its largest warehouse located in Asheville.             “Last week, during a research trip to the ‘Lost Provinces,’” Luke Manget said about the landscape…See More
Mark de Castrique posted a video

A Specter of Justice Preview

A Preview of the new Sam Blackman mystery to be released November 3, 2015
Oct 1
Rob Neufeld's discussion was featured

"Us versus Them" does not help fight against racism; worsens sectionalism

“Us versus them” is not good historyby Rob Neufeld             Writing about history and the complex lives that play out within it does not sell as well as team spirit, especially in this age of clicks and likes.            I recently confronted this truth when I wrote my article last week about the minds of our leaders in 1851. The word “slavery” was added to the headline to alert people to its relevance.  Seeing that term connected people to a cause they felt strongly about, particularly in…See More
Sep 27
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Player of Games and the Millennial Mind

Player of Games reveals today’s game-changing mentalityby Rob Neufeld             There is something big happening in Millennial Generation literature, and I thought I’d try to get a handle on it.            To give an idea of one aspect of current thinking: I was at a gathering recently, plenty of youngsters, and I…See More
Sep 27
Julia Nunnally Duncan posted an event

Julia Nunnally Duncan Book Signing at MACA Building

October 10, 2015 from 9am to 1pm
Julia Nunnally Duncan will sign her books at the McDowell Arts Council Association (MACA) Booth at the annual Mountain Glory Festival on Saturday, October 10 from 9-1.See More
Sep 22
City Lights Bookstore posted events
Sep 22
Ann Miller Woodford shared their photo on Facebook
Sep 21
Ann Miller Woodford posted a photo

Deacon Chrisenberry -Berry- Howell (1855-1938) on horseback. From the collection of Purel Miller (2)

My maternal great grandfather, Chrisenberry Howell, who was called "Berry" Howell in Swain County. From the Purel Miller collection. Submitted by Ann Miller Woodford
Sep 21
James D. Loy posted a blog post

The skull merchant, the dead ape, and the narcoleptic mortician

Hello "The Read on WNC" readers:     I'm posting this note to announce the publication of vol. 3 in my "Loy's Loonies" series.  This one is called The Mortician's Road Trip and it's a bit more of a mystery than my earlier books. Here's a teaser for the story.     Upstate New Yorker Baz Rathbone makes ends meet by selling human skulls. By contract, he should cremate them, but he doesn’t. His little business comes to the attention of the FBI when a woman spots her late husband’s skull being used…See More
Sep 20
City Lights Bookstore posted events
Sep 19
Rob Neufeld posted discussions
Sep 19
Ann Miller Woodford replied to Rob Neufeld's discussion Terra Incognita: An Annotated Bibliography of the Great Smoky Mountains
"That East Tennessee Christian Association of Friends comment, especially bothered me, but it clarifies the view some folks from outside the region have about us even to this day.   … average intelligence...below that of colored…"
Sep 8
Ann Miller Woodford updated their profile
Sep 8

Novelist Barbara Kingsolver changes climate with new novel

Author comes to Asheville Nov. 28

by Rob Neufeld


            “Where is she taking us?” you wonder as Dellarobia Turnbow, the heroine of Barbara Kingsolver’s new novel, “Flight Behavior,” heads up a mountain, in obvious marriage distress, for a tryst with a dreamy power line worker.

            “Innocence was no part of this,” Kingsolver writes in the opening passage.  “She knew her own recklessness and marveled, really, how one hard little flint of thrill could outweigh the pillowy, suffocating aftermath of a long disgrace.”

            Tickets have just gone on sale for Kingsolver’s appearance in UNCA’s Lipinsky Auditorium,. Nov. 28.


Flight or fight


            The answer to Dellarobia’s dilemma unfolds throughout the book like a metamorphosis.  The first reveal is comically pathetic.

            Hobbling in overlarge, fashionable boots—bought used—and stopping for breath because she’s a smoker, she looks at something scaly hanging from a tree, and wonders if it’s a hornet’s nest, giant pine cone, or armadillo. 

            “For the second time” on her hike, “she wished for the glasses she’d left behind.” 

            Later on, she sees something that looks like a burning bush.  It could be a sign, like the one Moses had witnessed.  Or it could be something as deflating as the church marquee message her friend, Dovey, later texts her: “Moses was a basket case.”

            Dellarobia is a basket case.  She’d married a sheep farmer’s sheepish son at an early age because of an accidental pregnancy; and stayed married to him after a miscarriage because she had no family support and no other options.  The two children she and her husband, nicknamed “Cub” (his father is “Bear”), later conceived tie her to a scraping-by existence on Cub’s tyrannical parents’ east Tennessee farm.

            She wants out because she desperately needs out.  Little does she know, and little does the reader know, that she is about to encounter something as expansive as the title of Chapter 9, “Global Ecosystem.”


Climate change


            As Dellarobia’s life transforms, so do the worlds of her fractious family and conservative community, for they become embroiled in a miracle that hinges upon the reality of climate change.

            “I write about big things and serious things,” Kingsolver said in an interview with the Citizen-Times. “ I write about the real world and some of the things that are most difficult to think about.  I ask my readers for some courage, to look at things that are not necessarily comfortable.  So, what am I going to give in return?  A great plot, and at least a few belly laughs, hopefully more than a few, and a narrative that will give you a reason to turn every page.”

            “Flight Behavior” engages and plays with the reader from Chapter 1—in which the key revelation is delayed—to chapters in which expectations about “good” and “bad” characters are upended; the poor mountain South is given its due; and scientists are challenged to talk like people, even if the message is unacceptable.

            Kingsolver is not only a master story-teller, but also a master popularizer.  Through dozens of characters and encounters, she gets to play this role in various voices.

            “If you woke up one morning,” a scientist asks Dellarobia when she tries to minimize the local evidence about climate change, “and one of your eyes had moved to the side of your head, how would you feel about that?”

            Kingsolver is not saying, “Wake up!”  She’s saying, “Look at all these people who are being challenged to wake up.”


Following is an interview with Barbara Kingsolver about her new novel.


Q:  How did you choose this 5’0”, red-headed, dead-ended, East Tennessee country person as your vehicle?


A:  She had a lot to learn.  And I wanted to write about the culture war (that exists in rural Southern Appalachia).  Dellarobia tries to get across to this slightly obtuse scientist how hard it is for people to change what they believe.  She says, “Look, we’re born onto our teams.”  She describes them as Team Camo and Team Latte.  You’re born into your team, and then you absorb the facts that reinforce what you believe…In order to cultivate an outsider’s sympathy for her position, I needed to create someone who was likable, but also really vulnerable, whose trapped dead-end life would strike any reader as frustrating and intrinsically sympathetic.  You want her to go somewhere.  You want her to take off somehow or other. 


Q:  She has an eye for the sexy guy.


A:  Her human narrative is that she’s been running away from her marriage pretty much since her wedding day in one way or another, and ultimately—well, I won’t tell you ultimately.  Sooner or later, she is going to have to figure out a different flight plan….I hate spoilers.


Q:  Did you write the flyleaf copy?


A:  I did.


Q:  I had that hunch because there was mastery in saying things without revealing things.


A:  Thank you.


Q:  It doesn’t even reveal the ending of the first chapter!


A:  Exactly.  I myself (in talking about the book) have never revealed what the miracle is.  I made a strong case with my publisher not to put (a certain visual clue) on the jacket.  I’ve tried hard not to reveal that because as a writer you work so hard to measure and deliver the story at a certain pace.  This book is, among other things, about how we understand or don’t understand what we’re seeing—for example, climate change.  I think Dellarobia at one point says, “We can only see what we already know.”  So, I very carefully constructed that opening scene so that you the reader would share Dellarobia’s experience of looking at this amazing thing and not understanding what it is….Of course, the minute the first reviewer gives it all away, that experience is lost.  I hope that there’s more to the book than that, but you can see that I myself would prefer the reader to go into this knowing as little as possible. 


Q:  It looks as if you have identified some hopeful places where understanding can happen, and one is Pastor Bobby’s church.  Is it happening in the churches?  How fanciful a creation is he?


A:  Bobby is absolutely realistic.  I did a lot of research.  I visited a lot of megachurches.  They’re non-denominational and they’re filling a certain void in rural places…I made up the Café in Christ and the country music room where people are allowed to smoke—but those kinds of arrangement do exist.  I visited places like that, where you could buy your coffee and muffin and watch the pastor on closed circuit.  I also watched a lot of sermons on my computer.  A lot of these ministers are serving roles as counselors more than (adopting) the scolding moral tone of yesteryear…(They’re) leading people into positions of more faith in themselves…And the no-hell Baptists are real.  Ralph Stanley was one.  There is also a green church movement in this region.  All of Bobby’s parts are authentic.  I just put him together into a particular package, and then gave him a past.


Q:  I was impressed by how much Dellarobia speaks up for poor people.


A:  That’s something I really wanted to write about, environmentalism and class.  I wanted to turn some clichés on their heads.  This is a book about climate change, but the recyclers are not necessarily the heroes of this story. 


Q:  There’s that scene with Leighton Akins, the guy with the pamphlets.


A:  Yes, he’s trying to get her to sign a pledge for a greener life, and she’s going down the listing.  “But I don’t eat at restaurants.  I wish I could.  I wish I had red meat in my children’s life.”  And “Fly less”?  Right!”  That pledge that he reads to her is not fanciful.  I got that straight off the internet…I don’t think there’s any entirely safe territory in this novel.  Everybody has to bear some scrutiny.


Q:  Are you going to read that Akins episode to the Asheville audience?


A:  I don’t think so.  (laughs)  Here’s the thing.  You can’t go into it cold.  It took me 300 pages to get you there.  You need to be really well acquainted with Dellarobia before you can understand how ripped off she feels…It takes some grounding to understand that perspective, that we are not all coming to the table with the same full belly.  That’s the main reason I chose Dellarobia as the protagonist of this story, because I wanted to get you inside her life and see what poverty is like.  It’s not a bad joke.  It’s not the stereotype.  None of the easy labels fit Dellarobia’s life. 

More of interview to be added soon.



Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver (HarperCollins hardcover, Nov. 6, 2012, 448 pages, $28.99)



Visit the author’s website at



Barbara Kingsolver discusses and reads from her new novel, “Flight Behavior,” 7 p.m., Nov. 28, Lipinsky Auditorium, UNC-Asheville.  For tickets call Malaprop's Bookstore/Café at 254-6734 or visit  A copy of “Flight Behavior” is included in the price.

Views: 1133

Reply to This

© 2015   Created by Rob Neufeld.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service