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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

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Connie Regan-Blake updated an event
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A Slice of Life: An Evening of Stories at Black Mountain Center for the Arts

April 21, 2018 from 7:30pm to 9pm
Saturday, April 21, 2018 at 7:30 pm, join nationally celebrated storyteller, Connie Regan-Blake, as she hosts her "Taking the Stage" workshop participants, for an enchanting evening of storytelling in picturesque Black Mountain, NC. You'll enjoy a variety of stories and storytelling styles featuring tellers Jane O Cunningham from Rome, GA; Gabriele Marewski from Black Mountain, NC; Christine Phillips Westfeldt - Fairview,…See More
Mar 21
Glenda Council Beall posted a blog post

Writers Circle around the Table

We are located in Hayesville, NC. In April we begin our new season with outstanding Poet Mike James. Mike will read at Writers' Night Out in Blairsville, GA on Friday evening April 13. On Saturday, April 14, he will teach a class at my studio.Formally SpeakingThis class will focus on different types of traditional poetic forms such as the sonnet, the villanelle, and the sestina, and will also include other verse forms such as erasures, found poems, prose poems, and last poems.Contact Glenda…See More
Mar 12
Caroline McIntyre posted an event
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Rachel Carson, Silent Spring Chautauqua History Alive at UNC Asheville, OLLI Reuters Center, Manheimer Room

April 15, 2018 from 3pm to 4:30pm
Step inside the revolutionary book, Silent Spring as its author Rachel Carson reveals the reckless destruction of our living world. Written more than 55 years ago Silent Spring inspired the Environmental Movement and has never been out of print. And now you have a chance to ask the author, Rachel Carson, how this came to be. But these aren’t just performances. They’re a chance to step into Living History – to ask questions and go one on one with a women whose books shaped our country and our…See More
Mar 7
Lynn Hamilton-Rutherford posted blog posts
Mar 7
Lynn Hamilton-Rutherford commented on Glenda Council Beall's photo
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lexie on deck_edited-1

"She looks like I look in my imagination right before I've had my coffee ... relaxed, bothered (by something, anything) and fully aware that I'm almost, but not quite, the center of the universe ... a feeling that quickly fades after that…"
Mar 4
Lynn Hamilton-Rutherford replied to Kathryn Stripling Byer's discussion Mary Adams's new chapbook COMMANDMENT
"This is so perfect ... the thought of every woman, who KNOWS what the men are thinking!  But now at least we have an idea! This makes me happy in a sad, lovely sort of way!"
Mar 4
Lynn Hamilton-Rutherford posted a photo

Mom in Her Writing Nook ...

She was working on the "About the Authors" section of "Echoes Across the Blue Ridge" when I captured this one morning. Though you can't see it, her coffee cup was within gentle reach that morning. Roxie is at her feet.
Mar 4
Carolyn Bennett Fraiser updated their profile photo
Feb 15
Harold N. Stern updated their profile
Feb 6
Glenda Council Beall posted a photo

lexie on deck_edited-1

Lexie likes to sleep in the sunshine even on cold days.
Feb 6
Nancy Werking Poling posted a photo

Latest non-fiction book

In 1945 Indiana prohibited marriage between a white person and anyone with more than one-eighth "Negro blood." Yet Daniel (black) and Anna (white) gave up family, friends, and eventually even country to create a life together. Their 42-year marriage…
Feb 5
Nancy Werking Poling replied to Rob Neufeld's discussion Bent Creek, the 4-part story
"Rob, Thanks for putting this into one document. I've been following the narrative in the Citizen-Times. I find it an added resource for my next writing project. In 1910 my husband's grandfather (1866-1947) showed up in Missouri and said…"
Feb 5
Rebecca L Caldwell updated their profile
Feb 5
Lee Ann Brown replied to Rob Neufeld's discussion Writer Olive Dargan rises from obscurity
"Great Article!  Heart wrenching about her destroyed manuscripts and letters and notes but I will look for more of Olive Dargan!     Lee Ann Brown"
Feb 5
Rob Neufeld posted discussions
Feb 4
Rap Monster posted a blog post

THE BANG BANG BROKERS HITS AMAZON PRIME WITH A BANG

Focusing on the aftermath of the 2008 Financial Crisis, The Bang Bang Brokers tells the story of a hedge fund manager (based on a composite of real life traders) who got rich off of predicting the subprime fallout. His guilt and suicidal impulses lead him to a chance meeting with a Latino Gang, headed by small time weed dealer Ramon (Erik Michael Estrada). In hopes that Ramon will kill him in exchange for the favor, Rolley (played by Donihue) robs a rival Black Gang, earning the pair a ton of…See More
Feb 4

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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