The books have once again piled up in stacks up to three feet high in many corners of the house. It’s time to get organized. Easier said than done. Un-shelving and reorganizing and re-shelving books is tricky business, with multiple options that can be endlessly fascinating and frustrating. But it’s an innocent species of self-therapy that I look to — for the most part.
It’s the internal struggle.
Do you participate in life and soak it in like a sponge being dropped into a bucket of water, or do you simply walk to the side and stay out of the way of the trials and tribulations hurled at those who aim to find and achieve some semblance of success?
Opposites attract, so the old saying runs.
We’ve all known friends, husbands and wives, and lovers who match this adage, and the same can sometimes hold true for books. This week, for example, rupi kaur’s milk and honey and William F. Buckley Jr.’ s A Torch Kept Lit: Great Lives of the Twentieth Century snagged my attention. I can hardly imagine two books more different from each other.
Fifty years ago this past spring, on Easter Sunday, Evelyn Waugh died of a heart attack in his home in Combe Florey, England.
Both during his lifetime and in the years following his death, Waugh’s literary reputation underwent several transfigurations. Though Waugh was regarded in mid-life as one of the greatest writers in the English language of his time, his later work was attacked by many critics as being out of step with the times. In the 1980s, with the BBC production of Brideshead Revisited, Waugh’s star once again began an ascent to place him rightfully among the literary geniuses of the twentieth century. Decline And Fall, A Handful of Dust, Brideshead Revisited, his World War II trilogy, Sword Of Honour: these and most of Waugh’s other writings have not only stood the test of time, but are well worth a visit from readers unfamiliar with his work.
Novels written by a Western Carolina University professor and by his former student are among the 147 titles in the running for the 2017 International Dublin Literary Award, widely acknowledged as one of the top — and most lucrative — honors in the publishing world.
Ron Rash, WCU’s Parris Distinguished Professor of Appalachian Culture, is nominated for his Above the Waterfall, while David Joy, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from WCU, is among the nominees for his Where All Light Tends to Go.
One moment, please. To ward off the brickbats, cudgels, stones, dirt clods, and rotten tomatoes sure to come my way, I must clap on my armor: breastplate and plackart, gorget and pauldrons, greaves, fan plates, visored helmet, and other bits and pieces of metal protection.
Can you find redemption within your own consequences?
In The Risen, the latest work from famed Southern Appalachian writer Ron Rash, the plot focuses on two Jackson County teenage brothers, an out-of-town femme fatale, and a decades-old question of what really happened to her — and also them — in the process.
On the wall by the closet behind my desk is this quotation from Ernest Hemingway: “All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they really happened and after you finished reading one you will feel that it all happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you: the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and the sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can get so that you can give that to people then you are a writer.”
It is the word of Southern Appalachia.
For over a half a century, writer Fred Chappell has captured the essence of not only Western North Carolina, but also of mountain folk, and of humanity itself, for good or ill. As a poet, short story writer and novelist, he has dabbled in as many genres of the written word as there are topics to delve into.
Franklin will soon be joining other communities around the world who are incorporating a love for reading with a love of the outdoors.