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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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Latest Activity

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
Sue Diehl shared their event on Facebook
Feb 8
Sue Diehl posted an event
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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
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

The Main Show

The Main Show: a story-poem stage presentation(part of  Living Poem)See video of Act 1, Scene 1: The SettingPrologue Narrator:   Don’t listen, children, and do not hear.(A monster is coming and there’s no escapeWithin this story, and no good way to tell it, Except to gaze at the horror as at a flower,A disaster streaming off extremes it breedsEverywhere and in our…See More
Jan 26
Don Talley posted a discussion

Hollywood Pictures Inc in Fairview

In the 1920's it seemed the whole country was caught up in excitement about films and Hollywood.    Asheville and Western North Carolina were well aware of the hoopla of Hollywood.   In fact, Hollywood (or at least filmmaking) was already beginning to come to Western NC.I recently stumble across an article from the Jun 6 1926 issue of The Asheville Citizen Times which mentions that Hollywood Pictures Inc, was planning to film just south of Asheville, near Fairview.  But....was this really…See More
Jan 23

Good ol’ boys grin and cry in “Last Bigfoot”

by Rob Neufeld

 

            “She tried to run, but he grabbed her.”

            Both Wally Avett—whose new novel, “Last Bigfoot in Dixie” (Bell Bridge Book), begins with this line—and I are in the grabbing business ourselves, as are so many others today vying for your attention.

            In fact, there’s a great new book out about this phenomenon—Tim Wu’s “The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get inside Our Heads” (Knopf).

            Long before clickbait, Wu reveals, there had been Benjamin Day, who, in 1833, had printed his new newspaper, the “New York Sun” at a loss, but had more than compensated with income from ads after he’d captured people’s attention with lurid stories.

            His first two features were about a melancholy suicide; and a man who assaulted a woman and then chose marrying her over the judge’s other option, prison.

            I remember reading a book titled “Subliminal Seduction” (by Wilson Bryan Key, 1974) that showed how one TV advertiser inserted, into footage of water going down a drain, the image of a skull and crossbones and then the letters, S, E and X.

            Poor us.  We can’t not look at wrecks and sex.  And it takes a dull person to resist a flirtation with oblivion—unlike Tippi Hedren going into that attic in “The Birds”; and Bathsheba Everdene getting turned on by a soldier’s Trump-like grope in the new movie version of “Far from the Madding Crowd.”  I hate legitimized rape fantasies. 

            But that’s not Avett’s thing; he sticks to pure horror, without any prurience.

            “Tracks were all we had the next morning to read the scene where she was killed and eaten,” the novel reports.

 

Proctor and gambols

 

            Avett uses the horror grab to pull us into a social comedy, featuring good ol’ boy fellowship; independent woman upwomanship; folklore; criminal investigation; and mass market romance.

            The pacing is more leisurely than you might expect, as his characters engage in a woodsman’s version of Mayberry subplots among plot shocks that rock the Great Smokies town of Proctor.

            The narrator, Wade, a newspaper columnist and sheriff’s deputy, gets hijacked into the story with a jocular shock.

            “I was walking down the sidewalk on Tennessee Street, minding my own business, intent on finding my lunch at my favorite greasy spoon” he recounts, “when the siren on a sheriff’s car split my hearing from only six feet away.”

            “Get y’r ass in here and l’es ride,” Chief Deputy Earl Millsaps snarls at him.  That’s man-code for a bear hug.

            Except that bears are not too cool a subject at the moment because the suspect in the recent killing of a nine-year-old girl is a 600-pound bear that an old Indian had trained for wrestling shows years before.

            The Indian had also taught the bear to track and follow his grandson by his smell, like a bloodhound.  So, when Wade gets knocked down by the bear in his failed attempt to shoot the creature, the brushing places a mark.

            Ronnie, a Cherokee hunter, explains to Wade how the bear “may remember your (scent)...it can identify you, Wade.  You are at the top of the bear’s enemy list.”

            “You remember the movie ‘Jaws’” Sheriff Harley Elliott says at another point. 

 

A trove of trouble

 

            There are as many suspense story crises in “Last Bigfoot” as there are community crises in a Jan Karon novel.  Avett’s big bear is just the bass note, taking the place of a voracious Mitford developer, for instance.

            Wade’s new girlfriend has come to town looking for her parents, for she’d been a victim of an infant-selling scheme years ago.  A giant full-blood Cherokee man seeks Wade’s help in writing a book about the Trail of Tears. 

            A doll in a cave connects to the long-ago walling-in of a two-year-old girl by a crazy guardian grandma.  (For a classic treatment of this tale, see Maurice Stanley’s 1991 narrative, “The Legend of Nance Dude.”)  

            Gold coins trace back to Hernando de Soto.  The sheriff is torn up by murders of a non-carnivorous type, perpetrated by a psychopath named Junior.

            In many ways, Avett’s playfulness is like good pickin’ and grinnin’, particularly when he writes like a columnist.  At other times, especially with plot developments, it’s melodramatic convention.

            You wouldn’t expect Buck Owens to stop playing his guitar, turn to Roy Clark and say, “Hey, Roy, did you hear about the girl who got her legs eaten off?”  And Roy wouldn’t respond, “That’s nothing compared to the ex-con who tortured his girlfriend.”

            If you want to see tale-telling and plot-driving done seamlessly, look at Fred Chappell’s “Brighten the Corner Where You Are,” in which ol’ boy hunters go after a “devil-possum,” invented by the wise-acre hero to top his tiresome tormenters.

            I hope I don’t sound prudish.  But we’re so overwhelmed by vice and violence in TV dramas, best-selling novels, and network news, I’d like to see psychopathy and horror not used so cavalierly.  Though there’s a relatively new podcast show, “Last Podcast on the Left,” that’s a humorous, anguished riff on the obsessive fascination with sociopaths; and it seems both fresh and horrible.

            With Avett, we get innocent fun with some serviceable exploitation.

 

Rob Neufeld writes the weekly book feature for the Sunday Citizen-Times.  He is the author and editor of six books, and the publisher of the website, “The Read on WNC.”   He can be reached at RNeufeld@charter.net and 505-1973.  Follow him @WNC_chronicler.

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