Showing posts with label short fiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label short fiction. Show all posts

Thursday, April 1, 2010

FAVORITE APPALACHIAN BOOK: ANCESTERS AND OTHERS

FROM PENNY MORSE.

Gary Carden's review of the Pulitzer Prize winning classic by Caroline Miller, Lamb in His Bosom, is, indeed, a classic piece of fine writing. I'm always so grateful and proud that we have such an icon to teach us by example, to entertain and to keep alive the authenic voice of the mountains. Gary, may you live forever!

I am reading Fred Chappell's Ancestors and Others, published by St. Martin's Press in 2009. Most of the short stories in this book were previously published in earlier collections, but they are still fresh and captivating. Fred has that native son "ear" and the ability to lay out stories of mountain humor and deeds in pitch perfect dialect. The mountain based stories are not necessarily all humorous such as in Tradition, a tale of 6 deer hunters and one of them is slightly unhinged. Spine-tingling is how you feel as you follow one hunter who may be stalked by another.

No dialect was needed for Ladies from Lapland, about the adventures of de Marpertuis as he set out with a group of explorers to measure the earth at the north pole. He became infatuated with Inuit maidens encountered in what was then called Lapland. Much distracted from his mission, and to the disgust of his fellow scientitsts, Marpertuis dallies with the ladies and then insists they return to France with him. The closer they come to Europe, the less attractive he finds these sweet and naive women. But what is he to do with them? Ladies from Lapland shows Fred's mastery of linguistics. It remains a charming story, told with a flair for the language of an era when wealthy French aristocrats could be as eccentric and arrogant as they wanted.

I found all of the tales in this collection to be of substance and fine examples of the art of short story writing. It's no wonder many of Fred Chappell's students have gone on to success, such as Robert Morgan. My favorite from this collection is Moments of Light about the soul-shattering experience the composer Haydn has as he first views the heavens through a telescope. Very lyrical language here, so beautifully written that the reader becomes breathless in those heart-stopping moments of Haydn's discovery. Don't miss the clever and funny Christmas story, Creche. If you could overhear the animals talking at Midnight on Christmas eve, what would they say? Fred knows these magical things and spins a wonderful tale complete with a drunken pig who has fed on leftover fermented mash. Ancesters and Others
is a well-balanced collection showcasing the work of a master writer over many years. Fred, I guess you'll just have to live forever also!

Penny Morse

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Poets and Writers Reading Poems and Stories at JCCFS

Michelle Keller


Estelle Rice


Reading at the John C. Campbell Folk School on Thursday evening, October 16 at 7:00 PM are Michelle Keller and Estelle Rice. Michelle or Mary Mike as she is often called by her friends writes poetry, essays and short fiction. Her poem, Lace Shawl, was posted on this blog last week. She is also a painter and likes to think of her poetry as painting with words. Mary Mike is an active member of Netwest hosting Coffee with the Poets for the past year and keeping the public updated on Netwest events through local newspapers.

Estelle Rice is a native of Charlotte and lives in Marble, NC now with her husband, Nevin and a frisky pup, Bear. She recently taught a class, Writing from the Spirit Within, and donated her fees, $300, to Netwest for the new anthology. Her stories and essays have appeared in numerous journals and magazines. Her poetry chapbook, Quiet Times, published a few years ago is still selling well in local bookstores in Hayesville and Murphy, NC. Estelle also edits manuscripts and some of us who have known her for years won’t submit our work until she looks it over.

Michelle and Estelle will read after the meeting at 6:00 PM with Ed Southern in the living room of the Keith House. Plan to come and stay through the reading. These two friends and excellent writers will give the audience an entertaining and interesting hour.