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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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Guide to Antebellum Flat Rock

"The introduction of my new publication, Guide to Antebellum Flat Rock will be launched on Sept 14 2019 at 1:30 PM at the Henderson County Court House 500 Main Street. A talk and a brief slide show follows with refreshments afterward. …"
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Nancy Werking Poling posted an event

Nancy Werking Poling at Black Mountain Library

June 15, 2019 from 3pm to 4pm
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
Jun 10
Caroline McIntyre posted events
Apr 29
Rob Neufeld updated their profile
Apr 13
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

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
George Ellison left a comment for Renea Winchester
"luv ya Renea ... Kephart bio finally done after 40 years ... free at last ... free at last... great god almighty ... free a last!"
Apr 5
Connie Regan-Blake posted an event
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Connie Regan-Blake Storytelling at Hendersonville Public Library at Henderson County Public Library - Main Branch

June 13, 2019 from 6pm to 7pm
Join Connie Regan-Blake for a family oriented evening of stories at the Hendersonville Library.See More
Apr 1
Connie Regan-Blake updated an event
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Connie Regan-Blake’s 14th Annual Summer Storytelling Retreat & Adventure at StoryWindow Productions

July 14, 2019 at 10am to July 20, 2019 at 4pm
Come to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville for 7 days of story-listening & story-telling along with coaching, community & supportive exploration. This 14th annual workshop welcomes all levels of expertise, from beginner to experienced teller. Participants discover ways of being in the world that nurture your creative flow while developing skills to: Find, create, learn, and polish storiesEffectively integrate voice with image,…See More
Apr 1
Connie Regan-Blake updated an event
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Connie Regan-Blake presents A Slice of Life: An Evening of Stories at Black Mountain Center for the Arts

April 6, 2019 from 7:30pm to 9pm
Please join nationally celebrated storyteller, Connie Regan-Blake, as she hosts her workshop participants in an enchanting evening of storytelling in “A Slice of Life: An Evening of Stories.” Here are the tellers for our April 6th “Slice of Life” performance.  Christine Phillips Westfeldt, Kyra Freeman, Steve Tate, Alberta Hipps and more! The event is hosted by the …See More
Apr 1
Connie Regan-Blake updated an event
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Connie Regan-Blake's Taking Your Story to the Stage Workshop at StoryWindow Productions

April 5, 2019 to April 7, 2019
The focus of this “Taking Your Story to the Stage” 3-day workshop is on storytelling performance. Each participant is asked to come with a story that is almost “stage-ready.” Set in Connie’s home tucked in the beautiful mountains surrounding Asheville, NC, this workshop provides a supportive,…See More
Apr 1
Rap Monster posted a blog post

Stealth Hazy - 'Gun Clap'

Stealth Hazy - Gun ClapI got 80 rounds with a beam on it riding dirty I'm smoking chronic top off hear that system pound 808 thats subsonicI double down quadruple upstraight droppin with no cutwilt chamberlain on the reboundand you a fan just starstruckI…See More
Mar 26
Connie Regan-Blake posted an event

Connie Regan-Blake’s 14th Annual Summer Storytelling Retreat & Adventure at StoryWindow Productions

July 14, 2019 at 10am to July 20, 2019 at 4pm
Come to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville for 7 days of story-listening & story-telling along with coaching, community & supportive exploration. This 14th annual workshop welcomes all levels of expertise, from beginner to experienced teller. Participants discover ways of being in the world that nurture your creative flow while developing skills to: Find, create, learn, and polish storiesEffectively integrate voice with image,…See More
Mar 2
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Feb 8
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Montreat College Friends of the Library Celebrate National Library Week at Graham Chapel, Gaither Hall, Montreat College, Montreat, NC

April 9, 2019 from 3pm to 5pm
Patti Callahan, author of the recent novel Becoming Mrs. Lewis, and Don W. King author of Out of My Bone: the Letters of Joy Davidman, A Naked Tree: Love Sonnets to C. S. Lewis, and Yet One More Spring: a Critical Study of Joy Davidman, will co-present on their works about Joy and her husband C.S. Lewis.  The event is free and open to the public on April 9, 2019 in Graham Chapel, Gaither Hall, Montreat College.Reception and Book signing to followSee More
Feb 8
William Roy Pipes posted a discussion

TWO NEW APPALACHIAN NOVELS

I have, just released two Appalachian Novels.OUT OF THE SHADOWS, begins deep in the Appalachian Mountains of in WNC. It is partly a true story about a young man who ran away from home at the age of fifteen. He meets another runaway, and they fall in love.A journey where he faced adversaries, but also success as he walked, hitchhiked, and made his way across the country.GONE LIKE A CANDLE IN THE WIND, is a story of three young people growing up in a farming community in the Appalachian…See More
Jan 28

A slave, a Creek, and an orphan walk into history

by Rob Neufeld

 

            We are lucky to be in a position to follow an amazing author at the start of her publishing career.

            In the fall of 2014, Katy Simpson Smith came to Asheville with her debut novel, “The Story of Land and Sea.”   A review and an interview appeared in this column.

            Now, with her second novel, “Free Men,” Smith again applies her close attention to historical subjects; her feel for evocative language; and the undertone of a woman’s longing--and adds to that structured suspense and epic ambition.

            For what we have here is not only the story of three fugitives being pursued by a lawman through the deep South in 1788; but also a survey of American character in frontier times.

            Unfortunately, the closest Smith comes to Asheville on this book tour is her March 1 stop at Chapel Hill (where she’d received a PhD in history in 2011).  But hey, Malaprop’s and the Citizen-Times were there at the debut, so maybe next time.

NEWS FLASH: Smith will be at City Lights Books Store in Sylva, Sat., Feb. 27, 6:30 p.m.

 

Wooing by storm

 

            It’s interesting to look at how HarperCollins is marketing Smith.  The book cover art is what you’d see on a novel by Charles Frazier or Ron Rash.  That’s significant.

            Four of the five narrative voices in “Free Men” belong to men engaged in soul-testing odysseys.  Then again, all of them are empowered and haunted by mothers and/or wives—which is not surprising.  Smith’s dissertation was about motherhood and was published by LSU Press with the title, “We Have Raised All of You: Motherhood in the South, 1750-1835.”

            No wonder that “The Story of Land and Sea” was bought for $1 million in an auction; and "Free Men" was an enthusiastic re-engagement.  A literary frontier novel and a woman’s ode all in one?  Who can resist?

 

American saga

 

            “There is something of America in all this,” Louis Le Clerc Milfort, the lawman, writes in his notebook as he closes in on an unlikely trio: Bob, an escaped slave; Istillicha, a disinherited Creek; and Cat, a grief-overwhelmed white man, all tagged with committing a violent crime.

            Le Clerc opens the novel with the sentence, “The first sign that order had slipped its axis was that the slave who came to tell us of the murders was riding a horse.”

            It isn’t until nearly halfway through the novel that we witness the murders and the theft of bags of silver coins.  In the meantime, we get two long chapters that provide Bob’s and Cat’s backstories, with the stories of Istillicha and Bob’s slave wife, Willa, still to come.

            Le Clerc’s backstory is that he’s not exactly a lawman.  He’s a kind of minister to a Creek chief, as well as an expert tracker; and, secretly, he’s an anthropologist who seeks to discover truths about human nature, go back home to France, and become famous.

            One of the brilliant aspects of “Free Men” is that Le Clerc is not a tool for representing the author’s point of view.  He’s a problem character, whose motives and points of view are suspect to himself as well as us readers.  Smith makes him part of the mix, one of her representative Americans, not just an outsider.

            “There is a desperation about these men,” Le Clerc writes about the fugitives, “that suggests they do not reside on the rung of the criminal but, like all men here, are pursuing what might be called advancement, or hope.  Their success or failure will, I can’t help but believe, be a reflection on the project of this country.”

            “And yet,” Le Clerc muses, “I am the only man on their trail, the only man who may behold their fates.  This strikes me as particularly lonely.”

 

Importance of voice   

           

            “My mother told me this story when I was young and still went to sleep in tears,” Istillicha reveals in his retrospective chapter.

            “In the time when everything was born, the Muskogee (also known as the Creek) awoke in a fog cloud.” After years of blind grasping, a strong wind blew the mist out, and Istillicha’s people, the Wind clan, were the first to see with clarity. 

            “We led the others from the white cloud,” Istillicha’s mother told him.  “We lead them still.”

            Istillicha’s village, he reports about the transitional era in which he grew up, “was like an eddy in a river...Some people came like sticks and stuck in our current, cleaving to the water that turned round and round—(tribes) who’d lost their homes because our country was increasingly not our own.”

            Smith retells legends and relates life ways with authority.  Her ambit includes not only Istillicha’s home life, but also the distinctive sense of humor of Indians; the complex state of mind of slaves; the dark and light extremes in the world of a poor orphan (Cat); and the psychology of even secondary characters.

            There is one hitch in the novel: the ending, which plays out in a three-part epilogue.

            The ambition of the novel—to represent essential elements of American history—pinches the plot, first by having to head toward a hopeful ending; and then by having the seal on the story pooch out because of how many branchings are generated.

            Since “Free Men” doesn’t end in disaster, like “Moby Dick,” Smith can’t have an ending like, “And I only am escaped alone to tell thee.”  And since it has multiple narrators, it can’t end with a smart remark, as with “Huckleberry Finn”: “and so there ain’t nothing more to write about, and I am rotten glad of it.”

            Still, the book has so much happening, and is so variously modulated, that you can make it a part of your life; and eagerly anticipate Smith’s next production.

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