Saturday, May 14, 2016



Adult biography
"...I was my daddy's girl through and through, a mountain girl,
a born tomboy who loved Grundy and everything about it, especially in
the summertime when I was part of a wild gang of neighborhood children
who roamed from house to house, ran the mountains as we pleased, and
generally enjoyed a degree of freedom that is almost impossible now to
imagine. Summer spread out all around us like another country, ours
to plunder and explore. Aside from chores and one week of compulsory
Bible School (red Kool-Aid, Lorna Doone cookies, lanyards) we were on
our own."
Place can be as much of a character in a novel as any of the two
and four legged beings that inhabit it. I think that's especially
true for that genre known as Southern literature. The Appalachian
South in which Lee Smith grew up really comes to life in her novels.
In Dimestore: A Writer's Life she lets the reader look at her sources
of inspiration through a series of 15 essays including:
*Lady Lessons (source of the above quote) which dilineates Smith's
mother's futile efforts to teach her wild child proper etiquette;
*Kindly Nervous, a very candid exploration of the mental illnesses
which required regular hospitalizations for both Smith's parents and
the many ways neighbors and kin took up the slack during their absences;
*and Dimestore, a exploration of the geography of Smith's childhood
Whether you, like Smith, grew up in a world of dimestores in
downtowns not deserted in favor of malls, summer days punctuated only
by meals and bath and bedtimes, drive in movies where parents combined
meals and entertainment and children wore pajamas, porches and front
steps where people sat out on pleasant evenings, and treasured files
of recipe cards, many in the fancy script of long gone kin or came
along too late, you will find Dimestore an excellent read...
...especially if you are a writer trying to define for her/
himself what home is.
On a personal note, the last spring semester Wednesday night at Wilson
Center was more personal than usual. Instead of a formal program,
after our scrumptious supper we told each other stuff like what we'd
do over the summer and what we wanted to take with us from the
center. We blessed each other with green glitter. It did get all
over my pillow. But I wasn't about to wash my hair and then stay up
to let it dry.
A great big shout out goes out to all the members of my Wilson Center
family. Wilson Center surely is part of the geography of my heart.
jules hathaway

Sent from my iPod

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