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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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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

Why read a 1940 man-on-the-run classic

by Rob Neufeld

 

            After reading a classic novel, you might think, “Oh, look at this superior ancestor of today’s fiction.” 

             For instance, “The Power and the Glory,” Graham Greene’s 1940 thriller about political oppression in Mexico, exemplifies the man-on-the-run story; and does a couple of other impressive things as well.

            If you make it a book discussion pick, or a book-a-week choice for the 50 Books Challenge (a current trend), you’ll find yourself hooked by history and humanity like a person who loves possibilities.

            See below for upcoming book discussions in the region. 

 

Love the sinner

 

            Let’s start by talking about sin, and—so that people don’t turn away—let’s call it something else: half-heartedness.  It’s more compassionate.

            The term comes up when the unnamed main character in “The Power and the Glory,” a priest on the lam from an anti-Catholic government, finds himself in a hut with a two-toothed indigent who has latched onto him because there’s a reward for the priest’s capture.

            When the priest tries to escape by walking over the sleeping mestizo, the hanger-on grabs the priest’s ankle.  “Where are you going?” he says; and traps the priest in another way, too, by saying he needs to make his confession.

            “The awful jumble of the gross, the trivial, and the grotesque,” Greene writes, “shot up between the two yellow fangs, and the hand on the priest’s ankle shook and shook with the fever.”

            It was pathetic, and so ordinary, and the priest can’t resist taking an interest.  “It was too easy,” he thinks, “to die for what was good or beautiful, for home or children or a civilization—it needed a God to die for the half-hearted and the corrupt.”

 

Stark revelations

 

            So, we’re all beautiful and we’re all pathetic in Greene’s and the priest’s view.

            To make his case, Greene creates the most extreme situations.  In one scene, the priest exposes his desperate self in a contest with a lame, starving dog over a bone.

            In another scene, his love for his seven-year-old daughter, Brigitta—the product of a drunken night—overwhelms him when he takes refuge in the mother’s town.  The girl, laughed at by village children, has nothing but disdain for him.

            “The world was in her heart already,” he laments, “like the small spot of decay in a fruit.”

            He hugs her though she screeches, and tells her, “I am your father and I love you.”  She looks at him.  “My dear, my dear,” he implores, “try to understand that you are—so important...The president in the capital goes guarded by men with guns—but my child, you have all the angels of heaven.”

            Then a man brings the priest his mule, and the priest flees again, tracking the police so that he might walk unsuspected in their wake.

 

Body and soul

 

            The priest’s odyssey tests and reveals his world view, which centers on his instinct for beauty and grace rather than vengeance and self-righteousness.  Survival does concern him, and he’s great at it, but he giggles when he’s engaged in a chase; and he often tries, unsuccessfully, to give himself up.

            This redeeming aspect of the plot puts Greene at the opposite end of the spectrum from Quentin Tarantino, my poster boy for cheapened culture.  Plots are more interesting and even scarier when people’s souls, and not just their pain and anguish, are at stake.

            Greene’s non-doctrinal embrace of the Catholic faith puts his protagonist in a position to compassionately treat humanity under the worst of circumstances.

            And things are the worst in the Mexican region in which Greene sets his novel.  Vultures, beetles, mosquitoes; poverty, repression, and rainstorms plague one’s days.

            Within this hell-on-earth, the author has the priest encounter not only the craven mestizo, but also: a faith-abandoning priest who three times acts the coward; a smugly pious woman who denounces him in a prison cell; a Mayan woman who engages him in a ghoulish version of a Christian ritual; a 13-year-old girl who stands up for human principles and protects him; a German couple in a safe area who advocate middle-class shallowness; and an atheist police lieutenant who leads the hunt for the priest.

 

The human condition

 

            It is a rule of good suspense that an author must tighten the screws; that is, make things as hopeless as possible for the hero.

            Greene extends that worry to the human condition.  His characters are trapped by history.  Grace, God’s promise, seems as unlikely as the prospect of angels in the priest’s daughter’s life.

            “God is love,” the priest affirms to the lieutenant.  “I don’t say the heart doesn’t feel a taste for it, but what a taste.  The smallest glass of love mixed with a pint pot of ditch-water.  We wouldn’t recognize that love.”

            Celebrating Mass, the priest tells his poor congregation, “Pain is part of joy,” as hunger is to eating and a long betrothal to marriage.  “That is why I tell you that heaven is here: this is a part of heaven just as pain is a part of pleasure.”

            The lieutenant also loves the peasants, for he shares their background.  After letting a boy handle his gun, he reflects that he would eliminate from children’s lives “everything which had made him miserable, all that was poor, superstitious, and corrupt.  They deserved nothing less than the truth—a vacant universe and a cooling world, the right to be happy in any way they choose.  He was quite prepared to make a massacre for their sakes.”

            People are indeed driven by great concepts, as are the best novels.  Such concepts represent aching appeals for goodness.

Rational irrationality

 

            The Vatican banned “The Power and Glory” when it came out, which raises another point about book discussions: controversy is good. 

            “Troubling the spirit of calm that should prevail in a Christian,” the Holy Office opined, the novel should never have been written.  It also called Greene’s mind, “odd and paradoxical.”  In 1965, Greene had an audience with Pope Paul VI, who told him to pay no mind to certain church officials.

            Religion is one of the topics about which one is not supposed to converse in polite society.  But when you have Bill Maher mocking believers as irrational while, at the same time, rational society is building robots and exploring space while populations despair and Earth burns, you have to open your mind to paradoxes.

            It’s as the priest tells the lieutenant: “We agree about a lot of things...that the world’s unhappy whether you are rich or poor—unless you are a saint...And there won’t always be good men in your party.  Then you’ll have all the old starvation, beating, get-rich anyhow.”  There’s no obvious path.

            What is the way?  There’s a lot to think about.

 

UPCOMING BOOK DISCUSSIONS

 

Tues., Jan. 26th, 1:30 p.m.: “Orphan Train” by Christina Baker Kline at Watauga County Public Library, Boone (264-8784 ext. 2).

 

Thurs. Jan. 28, 7 p.m.: “Nazi Literature in the Americas” by Roberto Bolano, tr. by Chris Andrews, at Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café, Asheville (254-6734).

 

Wed. Feb. 3, 7 p.m.: “Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy, tr. by Richard Pevear, at Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café, Asheville (254-6734).

 

Thurs., Feb. 11, 5:30 p.m.: “The Dark Messiah,” short story by Thomas Wolfe, at The Thomas Wolfe Memorial, Asheville (253-8304).

 

Thurs., Feb. 18, 6:30 p.m.: “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt at The Forum at Diana Wortham Theatre (210-9837).

 

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