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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.

East Asheville history and sites

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History Feb 27, 2017.

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Rob Neufeld's discussion was featured

Ellington in Asheville--a survey

The Douglas Ellington effect: An Appreciationby Rob NeufeldIMAGE: Douglas Ellington’s original drawing for a City Hall-County Courthouse Art Deco complex.            “Dear Douglas,” Kenneth Ellington wrote his brother, the 38-year old Pittsburgh architect, on May 6, 1925, “I know things are…See More
Wednesday
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

Dom Flemons legendary musician at BRCC Jan 25

Dom Flemons, Grammy Award Winning Banjo Player, Jan. 25Dom Flemons, legendary banjo player and co-founder of the Carolina Chocolate Drops performs 7 p.m., January 25th, at Blue Ridge Community College’s Thomas Auditorium.The show is the latest “Keeping the Fires Burning” series, produced by The Center for Cultural Preservation to celebrates the heroes of Southern Appalachian culture.Dom awakened Americans to the rich African-American roots tradition that informed old-time and bluegrass…See More
Wednesday
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

African-American music in Asheville

Asheville's African-American music meccaby Rob NeufeldPHOTO CAPTION: The Outcasts, the state’s Battle of the Bands winner in 1979, included: (kneeling l to r) Edward Stout, saxophonist; Darriel Jones, drummer; (seated) Patricia McAfee, vocalist; (standing l to r) Marvin Seabrooks, trombonist; Mike Steele, saxophonist;…See More
Monday
Frank Thompson posted events
Monday
Connie Regan-Blake posted an event

Explore the Landscapes of Story & Telling in 6 Weekly Sessions at Lenoir Rhyne University Center for Graduate Studies Asheville

January 24, 2018 at 10am to February 28, 2018 at 12pm
Explore the Landscapes of Story & Telling in 6 SessionsIt’s winter and Connie Regan-Blake is excited to offer a new learning opportunity to warm-up your storytelling voice and creativity!  Join her in Asheville at Lenoir-Rhyne University (36 Montford Ave) on Wednesday mornings 10:00 am – 12:00pm for six story-work sessions.  This weekly format allows for your…See More
Jan 8
Susan Weinberg posted an event

Reading by Poet Anne Waldman at Table Rock Room 201B, Plemmons Student Union, AppState

March 22, 2018 from 7:30pm to 8:45pm
The Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series presents a reading by Poet ANNE WALDMAN. The author will also present a craft talk from 3:30-4:45 in the same location. Admission is free, and book sales and signing will follow each event. Parking is free on campus after 5 pm, with the parking deck at College & Howard streets recommended. For further details, check www.visitingwriters.appstate.edu.    Anne Waldman is a poet, performer,…See More
Jan 4
Julia Nunnally Duncan updated their profile
Dec 15, 2017
Spellbound posted an event
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Lyndsay Eli with GUNSLINGER GIRL (YA Novel) at Spellbound Children's Bookshop

January 20, 2018 from 6pm to 7pm
Are you a fan of The Hunger Games?  Then picture what Katniss would be like - with a gun.  That's just a taste of the "new" West action Lyndsay Eli brings to Spellbound Children's Bookshop with Gunslinger Girl.  She shares her debut novel on Saturday, January 20, at 6 p.m. The US has been fractured by a Second Civil War. Serendipity 'Pity' Jones finds a home of sorts in the corrupt, lawless city of Cessation (think Las Vegas on steroids).  Her shooting skills make her a star of the Theater…See More
Nov 20, 2017
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

Cherokee and WNC music and dance events

Two Big Cultural Events in December in Hendersonville & Ashevillefrom press releaseThe Center for Cultural Preservation, WNC’s cultural history and documentary film center, presents, Cherokee Music and Dance on Thursday, December 7, 7 p.m., Blue Ridge Community College’s Thomas Auditorium.  Tickets are $5. The screening of A Great American Tapestry will be held on December 2, 2 p.m., at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Reuter Center, UNC Asheville.  Tickets for that event are…See More
Nov 15, 2017
Spellbound posted events
Nov 9, 2017
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Battery Park Hill through the ages

Battery Park through the Years by Rob NeufeldPHOTO CAPTIONS: 1) Present-day view of Battery Park Apartments from…See More
Nov 6, 2017
Mark de Castrique posted a blog post
Oct 13, 2017
Rob Neufeld's discussion was featured

Dave Minneman, heroic portrait

Dave Minneman and a sense of justiceby Rob NeufeldPHOTO CAPTION: Dave Minneman doing research at Pack Memorial Library.  Photo by author.            “One of the biggest things I did as a kid, in order to escape my father,” Asheville resident Dave Minneman says of his 1960s and 70s rural Indiana childhood, “was…See More
Oct 8, 2017
Julia Nunnally Duncan posted an event

Julia Nunnally Duncan at MACA Authors' Booth

October 14, 2017 from 9:30am to 1:30pm
Julia Nunnally Duncan will be signing her new books A Part of Me and A Place That Was Home at the Mountain Glory Festival in downtown Marion on Saturday, October 14, from 9:30-1:30. She will be located at the MACA Authors' booth on Main Street.See More
Oct 7, 2017
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

Sample 8 Great Smokies Writers at Malaprop’s, Oct. 15

Writers in UNC Asheville’s Great Smokies Writing Program (GSWP)read atMalaprop's Bookstore/Café, 55 Haywood St., Asheville, 3 p.m., Sun.,Oct. 15 Elizabeth Lutyens, editor of the GSWP’s Great Smokies Review, leads the Prose Master Class and will host the reading. ·        Ellen Carr, who works in the financial industry, will read excerpts from her novel of uneasy relationships, Unmanned. ·        Sarah Carter, an artist and photographer who will publish an excerpt of her novel, Jolene, Joe-Pye,…See More
Oct 6, 2017
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Ellington in Asheville--a survey

The Douglas Ellington effect: An Appreciationby Rob NeufeldIMAGE: Douglas Ellington’s original drawing for a City Hall-County Courthouse Art Deco complex.            “Dear Douglas,” Kenneth Ellington wrote his brother, the 38-year old Pittsburgh architect, on May 6, 1925, “I know things are…See More
Oct 6, 2017

Chaucer in earthquake city! Divakaruni's latest has victims relate life-changing moments

Author is one of many great ones at four-day festival

by Rob Neufeld

`”Everything will be all right,” thought author Chitra Divakaruni as Hurricane Ike pummeled her family to the edge of death in Houston in 2008.

She’d aided Katrina refugees in 2005, and then experienced Hurricane Rita herself, stranded in a car during an evacuation. Her family wasn’t going through that again, so they stayed put with Ike. Divakaruni felt, as her house was being blown apart, an extreme calm and sense of protection

Such a predicament transfers to nine characters in Divakarni’s new novel, One Amazing Thing, as they face death in a basement office buried by an earthquake. The cast is determined by the place—the Indian visa office in San Francisco—and the meaning of “all right” is ambiguous.

Graced by stories


Divakaruni is Wednesday night’s featured author in Western Carolina University’s eighth annual Spring Literary Festival, a premiere event in this region. She is joined by Jill McCorkle, Patricia Smith, Silas House, and other standouts in the four-night series (see box).

One Amazing Thing, Divakaruni’s eleventh novel and sixteenth book, is a suspenseful disaster tale and a brilliant showcase of storytelling power. The first character, Uma Singh, an American graduate student from Kolkata (Calcutta), brings to the unlucky site of her entrapment a copy of The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer. Later, faced by her group’s intemperate reaction to disaster, she proposes that people take turns telling stories.

Each story is a revelation (“one amazing thing”) and a salvation. The survivors are able to feel “all right” and bridge cultural boundaries with compassion.

At the first telling, we read, “They arranged the chairs into a circle. Malathi (the office receptionist) came out with a tin of Kool-Aid fruit punch. (Where had she hidden it? What else was she hiding?)…Cameron (the survival leader) switched off both flashlights.”

The companions “were ready to listen to one another,” Divakaruni writes. “No, they were ready to listen to the story, which is sometimes greater than the person who speaks it.”

Gather in the dark


When Divakaruni had been a girl, she had spent summers at her mother’s parents’ place in Gurap—a rural village a couple of hours from Calcutta. “Every evening when it got dark,” Divakaruni related in an interview with the Citizen-Times, “my grandfather (Nibaran Ghosh) would light a lantern, and he would call all of us cousins, and we would all come into his room. We’d sit around the lantern, and he would, in the dark, start telling us stories out of our folktales and fairy tales and epics.”

In her youth, Divakaruni had been immersed in her own Bengali culture. Leaving it for America as a teen, she became enamored of multi-culturalism.

In the claustrophobic setting of One Amazing Thing, Divakaruni assembles: Uma, the westernized student; Cameron, an African American Buddhist and Vietnam War vet; Malathi, a Tamil-speaking receptionist and aspiring beauty salon owner; Mr. Mangalam, the failed Hindu office manager; Tariq, an Indian American Muslim and radical recruit; Jiang, a Chinese Christian widow; Lily, Jiang’s 13-year old Goth granddaughter; Mr. Pritchett, an accountant with a bruised past; and Mrs. Pritchett, a dutiful wife going through a life change and headed toward a vacation in a converted Indian palace.

Karma


The value of the characters’ storytelling is heightened by the sickening progress of the disaster. After a couple of startling shifts downward in hope and living conditions, Mrs. Pritchett says, “God hasn’t forgotten us…He knows our entire histories, past and future both, and gives us what we deserve.”

The meaning of fate—and karma—is open to interpretation not just for the reader, but also for each participant in the drama. In Mrs. Pritchett’s case, she had experienced how the merest of incidents—witnessing an elderly man flick dirt off his blind wife’s coat after he’d seated her in a restaurant—caused a landslide within her. She missed tenderness in her life; and, had, in her youth, missed a chance at self-fulfillment.

Others reveal similar ambushes by disproportionately small incidents.

Tariq, the Muslim boy, had achieved a new sense of manhood in a transformational moment with Farah, an intellectual Muslim woman visiting his parents from India. At first, cocky about his American streetwise ways, he’d resented her; and he’d made her cry by telling her to “go back home.” He’d apologized and then seen the frailty beneath her strength. “The thin, curved rod of her collarbone reminded him, illogically, of a fledgling bird. That was when he started to fall in love.”

Real-life applications


In addition to being mesmerizing, One Amazing Thing is provocative. I can hardly think of a better book discussion choice.

When Divakaruni thinks about storytelling applications in practical life, she thinks about book discussions. She recalls the hurricane refugees, victims of domestic abuse, and inner city students whom she has helped through story-telling. She involves her family members, who continue her traditions. And she promotes library programs and diverse conferences, where special spaces are provided and magic shared.

Book reviewed
One Amazing Thing
by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (Voice/Hyperion hardcover, 227 pages, $23.00)

See the interview with Divakaruni.
See WCU event site.

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