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The history of Oakley 1 Reply

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History. Last reply by Sheilah Jastrzebski May 16.

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Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

Award-winning novelist captures fleeting youthby Rob NeufeldAnother Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson (Amistad: HarperCollins, Aug. 9, 2016)            The amazing, unusual thing about Jacqueline Woodson’s new novel, “Another Brooklyn,” I realize as it sinks in, is that the initial mystery—that is, why the narrator can’t…See More
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A rare interview, a story about an acid plant

A worker’s view of tannery work in Rosmanby Rob Neufeld             Haskell Luker was 11 when the Flood of 1916 caused his dad, Americus Alfred Luker, to leave the farm where he worked and take a job with an acid (tannin) plant in Pisgah Forest.             “Daddy was going down there to make big…See More
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Interview with Chitra Divakaruni about Before We Visit the Goddess

A talk with Chitra about her benediction of a novelby Rob Neufeld             Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, one of our country’s most engaging and inventive novelists, first came to this region six years ago for Western Carolina University’s Spring Literary Festival.  That’s when I got to know her and began…See More
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Gary Carden's Outlander--about Kephart--at UNCA July 31--with author

Is Carden's Kephart play controversial?Gary Carden's play, "Outlander," receives a "staged reading" in the Reuter Center, UNC Asheville, 2 p.m., Sun., July 31.  Carden will be on hand to discuss the play with the audience.  It is a controversial play in that it has been criticized by the descendants of Horace Kephart who felt that the play "demeaned" Kephart.  "Ironically," Carden says, "my original purpose in writing the play was to 'redeem' Kephart. who has often been denounced by the…See More
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Bring Back the Game

BRING BACK THE GAME     Anna and I basically spent a month in Asheville, NC this summer. We returned to Georgia a few days ago, and while we were glad to get home, as we got out of the car, we were met with the suffocating heat that I still have not become acclimated to even though we have lived in Middle Georgia for over 30 years. Every plant in our backyard had dried up and only the belligerent squirrels had survived the summer’s inferno.      We had a great time in Asheville. We visited our…See More
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Amy Ammons Garza to Present Her Memoir at City Lights Bookstore

August 6, 2016 from 3pm to 4:30pm
Amy Garza will be presenting her new memoir, Appalachian Storyteller in a Feed Sack Dress, at City Lights Bookstore onSaturday, August 6th at 3 p.m. Follow Amy as she tells the story of her life as she lived it, each chapter being a story in itself. These are the compelling stories of a mountain girl who found the courage she needed in her life to listen and retell the stories of her family and heritage.  Amy Garza was born and raised in Western North Carolina, which leads her into her many…See More
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Charles Price answers the riddle of a killer

by Rob Neufeld

(cover images by Britt Kaufmann)

 

            Charles Price, one of the most significant writers of historical sagas in this region, has taken a turn for the West.

            His quartet of Hiwassee Valley novels, starting with “Hiwassee” and concluding with “Where the Water-Dogs Laughed,” stands alongside John Ehle’s sextet, Fred Chappell’s quartet, and Wilma Dykeman’s threesome.

            Price has his own brand—and I don’t mean market niche.  I mean a design that burns and marks his fiction, and which carries over to his latest venture, westerns of a sort.

            “Four Sixes to Beat,” a craps reference, is the third western he has published exclusively as an e-book.  It concerns the life of John Wesley Hardin, the killer. 

            Hardin, as the book opens, is living, toward the end of his life, in El Paso, writing his memoir.  He questions himself, trying to make himself right by the lights of his late father, a Methodist minister.

            So, there is much internal monologue; and dialogue with other characters.  But there’s also a lot of action, fed partly by flashbacks.

            As with Price’s locally set fiction, hard times and hard people dictate an unfashionable level of realism—violence, racism, and, in the Hardin book, sex.  Throughout all his work, as the following interview also reveals, Price seeks to resolve the disturbing chasm between the gentle religion in which he’d been raised—his father was a Methodist minister—and the soulless horrors that plague us still.

            As an aside, I feel there’s always a market for good literature, if the publishers do their jobs.  One  novel with which Price’s fiction has a kinship, “Deadwood” by Pete Dexter, was turned into a very popular HBO series.

 

Q:  How many westerns have you written?

 

A:  I have written several westerns, but it’s more like writing historical novels set in the Old West.  And I have a non-fiction book that will be coming out (in June) about the Espinosas, serial killers, set in 1863. 

 

Q:  How did you come to write about John Wesley Hardin?

 

A:  I was fascinated in imagining the mind-set of a person who was able to kill 42 human beings and justify it…He was the son of a Methodist minister, as I am.

 

Q:  What is part of the explanation?

 

A:  His environment was Reconstruction Era Texas, in which killing had specific social connotations.  It was justified and even applauded by society.  Most of the murders that Hardin committed had been against officials, blacks, and state police.

 

Q:  Have you seen the new Tarantino movie, “Django Unchained?”  The “New York Times” praised its mix of sensationalism and ethical seriousness.  The only ethic I saw was: “slavery—bad.”

 

A:  Tarantino has done more to trivialize violence than almost anybody.  My book is full of blood.  The characters have conversations about violence.  Hardin has a little bit of a conscience left.  He wonders if he is a vessel of violence to be eradicated.  There’s a serious discussion at the end about the meaning of violence.

 

Q:  Hardin’s first flashback is triggered by a smell of apples.  Is smell an important sense in your stories?

 

A:  There’s more and more sensory detail that comes back to him as he considers his victims.  He becomes obsessed.  His killings are coming back to haunt him.  There’s a legend that people who write about Wes Hardin end up being haunted by him.  Leon Metz wrote the biography, “John Wesley Hardin: Dark Angel of Texas.”  I called him when I was doing research.  He felt afraid of Hardin at the time of his writing.  When at a book signing, he felt Hardin’s displeasure so strongly, he found himself sitting outside on the curb afterward, weeping in fear.

 

Q:  What about you?

 

A:   After I finished, I began to feel that there was another presence in the house.  It was like he was saying, “You did good,” which is horrifying to me.  I had not endorsed his actions, but to think that what I had done pleased him was disturbing.  In the end, I came to the conclusion that satisfied me regarding the riddle about who he was.

 

Q:  Can you say something about your connection with Hardin in having Methodist minister fathers?

 

A:  Hardin was named after the founder of Methodism.  His narration is loaded with Biblical allusions.  He was drenched in religious doctrine, yet was one of the worst killers in the West.  He linked himself with people in the Bible who spilled a lot of blood.  The parts of the Bible that people like him cling to come from the Old Testament, which should be seen as a precursor to its fulfillment, the New Testament.  My father (Edgar C. Price) stood for kind and gentle things, and I worshipped him.  I’ve recently been writing about a group of heretics—the Albigensians—in 13th century France against whom the Pope declared a crusade.  The crusaders ran up against a practical problem when they came upon the targeted towns.  Whom should they kill?  There were innocent people among the heretics.  The papal legate said, “Kill them all.”

 

Q:  What’s the reason you’re going with e-books?

 

A:  Rejections I have gotten from publishers have said, “We can’t sell it.”  I never wrote a single line with an idea of the market.  I wrote only what I wanted to write.  I had things I wanted to say…I’ve got a lot of unpublished novels—about ten books that I’ve written over the last 17 years (aside from five bound books in print and one upcoming)—that I want to get out.   Four of them are e-books now.  Britt Kaufmann, the poet, playwright, and graphic artist, did the covers.  She’s brilliant.

 

BOOKS

Four Sixes to Beat: John Wesley Hardin in El Paso by Charles F. Price (e-book, Dec. 15, 2012, $9.99).

Other new Price westerns: Above the Caprock (Nov. 30, 2012); and Vengeance on the Sweetgrass: A Literary Western (Oct. 21, 2012).

New e-book, set in 12th century Europe: Call Down Heaven’s Fire (Jan. 4, 2012). 

 

LEARN MORE

Visit Charles Price’s website at www.charlesfprice.com

 

ART

Book covers:

Four Sixes to Beat

Call down Heaven's Fire

Vengeance on the Sweetgrass

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