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The German experience settling WNC 1 Reply

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History. Last reply by Scott Dockery Feb 16.

The history of Oakley

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History May 13, 2016.

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City Lights Bookstore posted events
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Montreat College Friends of the Library Annual Luncheon at Montreat College, Gaither Fellowship Hall

June 10, 2017 from 12pm to 2:30pm
Author Vicki Lane, who is working on her seventh novel, will be the guest speaker at the Montreat College Friends of the Library Annual Luncheon at noon on Saturday, June 10, 2017 in Gaither Fellowship Hall.  Reservations: 669-8012 Ext. 3502Open to the Public.See More
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Rose Senehi posted an event

Rose Senehi will read from her new novel: CAROLINA BELLE at MALAPROPS BOOKS & CAFE

May 3, 2017 from 7pm to 8:30pm
Belle McKenzie is obsessed with finding the best apple anyone ever bit into and determined to rekindle the love this obsession has nearly destroyed.        Woven throughout Carolina Belle is the fascinating history of Henderson County, North Carolina’s, apple orchards that endlessly unfold on the county’s horizons and still bear the same names as the early settlers to the area. Senehi, known for her historically accurate novels, sprinkles the book with stories of the development of the Southern…See More
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Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

Becky Stone Presents Maya Angelou

Chautauqua Alive! Becky Stone Presents Maya AngelouWednesday, May 24 at 6:30pmPack Memorial Library67 Haywood Street250-4700The Buncombe Chautauqua Committee and Pack Memorial Library will present a pre-Chautauqua special event in Lord Auditorium at Pack Memorial Library at 6:30 Pm on May 24.  Renowned storyteller Becky Stone will present “Becoming Maya Angelou.”   Ms. Stone will be appearing as Maya Angelou in the opening program of the annual Chautauqua series that begins June 19.  On May 24,…See More
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City Lights Bookstore posted events
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Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

Prize-winning YA author Sedgwick at Literacy fundraiser

Fundraiser for Literacy Council & Book Launch Marcus Sedgwick Tuesday April 25th 5:30-7:30 p.m., Twisted Laurel, downtown Asheville, 130 College Street COST: $45 per person (ticket includes hardcover book, food, and non-alcoholic beverage) All proceeds go to Literacy Council from press release Marcus Sedgwick, author of Saint Death Spellbound Children's Bookshop, Asheville's locally owned independent bookstore for kids and teens, presents a special event with one of the most critically…See More
Apr 17
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Dellinger Mill--sacred place east of Bakersville

A Mitchell County gristmill sifts through 150 yearsby Rob Neufeld PHOTO CAPTION: Book cover, “Dellinger Grist Mill on Cane Creek” by Jack Dellinger.             In 1861, when Bakersville got a post office, locals changed the town name from Bakersville to Davis, after Jefferson Davis, President of the…See More
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Susan Weinberg posted an event

Reading by Poet Al Young at Table Rock Room, Plemmons Student Union, App State University

April 6, 2017 from 7:30pm to 8:45pm
A reading by past California Poet Laureate Al Young in Appalachian State's Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series. The reading will be preceded by a craft talk titled "No Poem, No Home" from 2-3:15 the same day.Both are in ASU's Plemmons Student Union. Free admission; books will be available for sale and signing. See More
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Mar 23
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Citizen science author in Asheville April 6

Eco author in Asheville April 6 Citizen science can foster earth-saving policies Journalist Mary Ellen Hannibal, author of Citizen Scientist: Searching for Heroes and Hope in an Age of Extinction, speaks at Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café, 7 p.m., Thursday, April 6 in conversation with Mallory McDuff, Warren Wilson…See More
Mar 23
Julia Nunnally Duncan posted an event
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Appalachian Authors Book Signing and Reading at Historic Carson House

April 8, 2017 from 10am to 3pm
Julia Nunnally Duncan will be a featured author and reader at the Appalachian Authors  Book Signing and Reading to be held at the Historic Carson House on Saturday, April 8 from 10-3. She will debut her new poetry collection A Part of Me. The event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.See More
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Mar 22
Gary Carden posted a video

2012 Award Winner for Literature -- Gary Neil Carden

A literature and drama teacher turned storyteller, Gary Neil Carden is an award winning playwright whose tales are informed by mountain life in North Carolin...
Mar 22
Gary Carden updated their profile
Mar 22

Summer 2010 Intro to WNC Lit

Getting familiar with this region’s great literature

It's Summer, 2010, one of the good times to plan more reading, and perhaps a time tp appreciate the depth and scope of Western North Carolina's literature. Here is a survey of books by living authors of this region.

Rash, Morgan, Frazier

The big rising star in the region is Ron Rash. In the literary world, rising star is a peculiar term, for Rash has published eleven books of fiction and poetry, all acclaimed; and he rubs elbows with many fellow authors in his circle of achievement.

But the New York Times has caught up with us here in an appreciation of Rash by heralding his latest novel, “Serena”; and the O. Henry award-givers have dubbed a Rash short story one of the best of the year for the second time. Rash is noteworthy for writing about contemporary Appalachia; representing a wide range of characters with dignity; portraying a world full of grim dangers; and enthralling readers with a Beowulf-like poetry—that is, full of the kind of wonders that tellers once name-dropped in mead halls.

Anglo-Saxon prose is even more a feature of the novels of Charles Frazier, another literary best-seller writer, whose game-changer, “Cold Mountain,” has reached its thirteenth anniversary. His second novel, “Thirteen Moons,” is equally good—and presents an authentic narrative of the Cherokee displacement—but it has an anti-heroic ending rather than the Hollywood-ready one of his first novel.

Robert Morgan hit the big time with “Gap Creek,” when Oprah picked it for her book club in 2000. That novel and his previous one, “The Truest Pleasure,” revealed Morgan’s ability to convey the glories and griefs of mountain life through women’s voices. His range of expression through his career goes beyond that, including poetry that is grounded, musical, and mystical; as well as epic historical narrative, beginning with “Boone: A Biography.”

Price, Caldwell, Garren, Hays

Many region-based writers who warrant national audiences do not get the boost of bestsellerdom, though they attract critical acclaim.

In a quartet of novels, from “Hiwassee” to “Where the Water-Dogs Laughed,” Charles Price entered the personalities of dozens of characters over three generations and, through social realism, created what will endure as the saga of Clay County history. Completing that, he moved on to an ambitious personalizing of Revolutionary War combat with the novel, “Nor the Battle to the Strong.”.

One of the emblematic stories in local history—the displacement of pioneers by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park—finally came to life in Wayne Caldwell’s paired novels, “Cataloochee” and “Requiem by Fire.” As in Ron Rash’s fiction, the characters are dignified and idiosyncratic, and events are sometimes Faulknerian gothic.

Terrell Garren, in non-fiction and fiction, including his latest novel, “The Fifth Skull,” addresses general ignorance about the minds and plights of mountain Southerners during the Civil War; and he seeks justice in all corners. Tommy Hays, director of the Great Smokies Writing Program at UNCA, carries sensitivity to race relations, felt in his Greenville, South Carolina-based novel, “In the Family Way”; and to Alzheimer’s sufferers in “The Pleasure Was Mine.”

Godwin, Smith, Chappell, Ehle, Earley

Several paragraphs into this survey, and there are still five authors who have made it into the American pantheon of writers to talk about.

Gail Godwin grew up in Asheville, then used a job at Blowing Rock’s Mayview Manor to launch her to Europe and, eventually, to acclaim as a leading voice of the independent, creative woman in the 1970s. Her recently published journals chart this journey. “A Mother and Two Daughters” and “A Southern Family,” her fifth and seventh novels, set in Mountain City (fictionalized Asheville), became best-sellers. Her latest novel, “Unfinished Desires,” based on schooling at St. Genevieve’s in Asheville, epitomizes her powers of empathy.

Lee Smith, who grew up in Appalachian Virginia and now lives in Hillsborough, North Carolina, sets much of her fiction in Western North Carolina, making the colloquial mountain voice modern in fertile, community-embracing plots. “Saving Grace” follows the daughter of a snake-handling preacher through Haywood County; and, her most recent novel, “On Agate Hill,” follows a Civil War orphan to a teaching job and marriage in Ashe County.

Canton-born author, Fred Chappell, is the leading synthesizer of the mountain folk telling tradition and classic world literature. His most recent book, “Ancestors and Others,” brings together stories from his career that represent that imaginative brew. Chappell is also recognized as a master poet and devoted and incisive critic.

West Asheville-born John Ehle, along with the late Wilma Dykeman, were the key figures in the emergence of Southern Appalachian literature as a large presence in modern literature. Ehle’s 1964 novel, “The Land Breakers,” a Book-of-the-Month Club featured selection, was the first of seven of his books that dramatized the region’s history from pioneer days through the 1930s. Press 53 in Winston-Salem has reprinted two of them to date.

Tony Earley’s first novel, “Jim the Boy,” remains a huge success, a classic about the transition to modernity in Rutherford County. He continues to create a Willa Cather-like mythology out of his home universe.

Kostova, Addison Allen, Ross, Lane, McCrumb

Elizabeth Kostova and Sarah Addison Allen, both Asheville-raised, are two of the most recent residents of the best-seller list, drawing on subjects other then region. Kostova, in her novels, “The Historian” and “The Swan Thieves,” crosses into the occult realms of Dracula and immortal love with the literary grace of a Henry James novel. Allen takes magical realism into the realm of popular romance with “Garden Spells” and “The Girl Who Chased the Moon.”

Ann B. Ross’s latest novel, “Miss Julia Renews Her Vows,” is the twelfth in her “Miss Julia” series, in which she has also spoken her mind, hit the road, and painted the town. The Hendersonville author sets her fiction in the North Carolina town of Abbotsville. Vicki Lane has won a large following with her local lore mysteries, most recently, “In a Dark Season.” Jan Karon and Joan Medlicott have also reached mass audiences with regionally set village dramas.

Sharyn McCrumb is the fearlessly creative, regionally proud, and irrepressibly funny author of mysteries (she no longer writes them), “ballad novels,” historical fiction, and—most recently—NASCAR-based romps. “Once around the Track” is her latest NASCAR novel; and a new ballad novel, “The Devil amongst the Lawyers,” is coming out this month.

Byer and a florescence of poets

Amid the beer, religious retreats, retirement homes, outdoor sports, and other things for which the Asheville area is a mecca, there’s also poetry. Cullowhee author Kathryn Stripling Byer, having retired from two terms as North Carolina Poet Laureate, is magnetic north. Mountain-bred sensibility, internationally tuned music, and a concern for people and issues that expresses itself as longing distinguish her work in such volumes as “Wildwood Flower,”’ “Black Shawl,” and “Coming to Rest.”

There are other notable stars. Keith Flynn of Madison County brings his rock music, oratorical, and worldly background to commanding performances, a host of books, poetry workshops, and the editing of the widely acclaimed journal, “Asheville Poetry Review.” Thomas Rain Crowe of Tuckaseegee writes about home in a Thoreau-like way, but also embraces influences experienced through travel: the Beat poets out west; Dylan Thomas and the Welsh; Sufis; and, most recently, Europe’s old cities.

Glenis Redmond has navigated a Poetry Slam start into a career as a major lyric poet, much in demand in schools and arenas. Allan Wolf, one of the early leaders of Poetry Alive, based in Asheville, has crafted himself a place among the top practitioners of Shel Silverstein’s kind of verse.

Rick Chess, director of UNCA’s Center for Jewish Studies, writes poems that meditate on the intimate and modern meanings of his tradition. Nancy Dillingham and Julia Nunnally Duncan reflect on personal experience in the mountains and create distinctive and very musical sounds. Laura Hope-Gill, organizer of Wordfest, notably pairs poems with the work of photographers.

Storytellers and others

In an area as world famous for its storytelling as Western North Carolina, it would be an act of narrow-minded blindness to ignore the practitioners of oral literature. Chief among these is Gary Carden, storyteller and playwright, whose works can be obtained on DVD as well as in print.

Sheila Kay Adams, a musician of long lineage in Madison County, has also published a book of short stories and a novel, “My Old True Love.” Barbara Freeman is one of the leaders in regional storytelling, and has produced audio and video recordings. Curtis Blanton and Bill Carver bring the pure product to their tales. Rob Amberg and Tim Barnwell incorporate oral history into their books of documentary photography.

A survey of Western North Carolina literature cannot exclude other greats: Gloria Houston of Spruce Pine, who does for young readers what John Ehle has done for adults; MariJo Moore, a versatile communicator of Cherokee ways, and the honest, self-examining author of “The Diamond Doorknob”; Pamela Duncan, the most noteworthy fictional portrayer of mill life in the region; Maurice Stanley, who turns misunderstood outlaws into psychological realities; and many others.

Other impressive authors to follow!

--by Rob Neufeld, June 2010

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