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27 Views of Asheville

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5/11/2012 - 27 Views of Asheville
by Rob Neufeld - Asheville Citizen Times

 Can Asheville's diversity become its strength without the region becoming a reality show?

 A new book, "27 Views of Asheville," featuring many great authors from this region, gives voice to the town's diversity with both joy and caution.

Each contributor offers a short take on the city -- memories, humor, social history, poetry, fiction and more. Some are a page or two, some longer; all are deeply personal.

A few examples: Charles Frazier writes about playing fox and hounds in 1960s downtown. Pam Duncan celebrates the wisdom of a mountain man living with his newly married nephew. Michael McFee sings a long poem about McCormick Field.

Other writers show where divisions exist.

A dozen of the view-givers will gather 3 p.m. Saturday at Malaprop's Bookstore for a cavalcade of readings -- an entertainment composed by Eno Publishers, the publishers of "27 Views of Hillsborough."

As a preview to the Asheville book, we offer this photo survey, with teaspoon servings of the authors' works.

The passage between Wall St. and Battery Park Avenue

By Charles Frazier ("Cold Mountain")

"My cousins and I were fairly free-range children while my mother and her sisters were shopping, and I learned all the nooks and crannies of Asheville from our games of fox and hounds through the streets and stores. I liked the fox role and developed closely held secret routes reserved for times the hounds drew near." --from "Random Asheville Memories circa Mid-Twentieth Century"

The Wolves at the WNC Nature Center

By poet and novelist Ron Rash ( "Serena")

"Fog grazing among the trees,

and they herd with it, become

whispers of movement until

one bares its throat pausing for answer

from cliff-cave or laurel den

vacant twelve decades..."

--from "The Wolves in the Asheville Zoo"

McCormick Field

By poet Michael McFee ("That Was Oasis")

"'Take ... me out to the ball ... game,'

we stood and sang, seventh-inning stretching,

the only time my old man and I

ever lifted up our voices together in song."

--from "McCormick Field"

The Cross at Ridgecrest

By poet and UNC Asheville professor Richard Chess ("Third Temple")

"Then, almost immediately dropping down into a valley (crossing the Continental Divide on I-40), the second landmark comes into view: the gateway to Buncombe County, a cross towering into the sky from atop a ridge. It's the site of the Lifeway Ridgecrest Conference Center, a place to which, says its website, 'ministers and missionaries have been called' and where 'thousands have been saved and godly relationships have been formed.'

"But to me the cross says, Your language isn't spoken here; your not wanted here. What else is new? Welcome home." --from "A Circle With No End"

Thomas Wolfe

By Gail Godwin ("Unfinished Desires")

"During the war years, my mother was a reporter at the 'Asheville Citizen.' She often went with her notebook to Julia Wolfe's 'Old Kentucky Home' whenever Tom's mother remembered something else important about her famous son.

"My stepfather's father was in Tom's class at Claxton when they were boys. And the mother of the little girl I played with on Edwin Place worked as Wolfe's secretary in the summer of 1937, during his last visit to Asheville, when he rented a cabin out at Oteen." --from "Thomas Wolfe's Asheville"

Segregated bathrooms in downtown Asheville

By Johnnie Grant, publisher of Urban News

"After a day of exploring (as children, the Eagle/Market street district), we would make our way to the woods of Beaucatcher Mountain to strategize about our next expedition. On the way home through the East End community, we would be reprimanded by the elders who were responsible for keeping watchful eyes on all the neighborhood children.

"Each adventure took us farther and farther away from the familiar. Eventually, we landed in unfamiliar territory -- downtown." -- from"A Tale of Two Cities"

The Save Downtown Asheville movement

By Wayne Caldwell ("Cataloochee")

"It didn't take long for the opposition to boil up (says Rass Carter, a fictional lawyer, about the historically real 'midcity mall' proposal). Some folks -- a few business owners, an artist or two, several tenants, with more youth than age, more worry than optimism -- soon formed Save Downtown Asheville. This was in the old days, when a few doctors still made house calls and reporters actually attended meetings, so an article next morning said SDA planned to fight this proposal tooth and toenail. I hoped they would find my office.

"They did. Over the next year and a half those rascals did something that to my knowledge had never happened in our town. They fought City Hall -- and won." -- from the short story "Rattlesnakes"

The legacy of John Lyon

By George Ellison ("High Vistas: An Anthology of Nature Writing from Western North Carolina
and the Great Smoky Mountains")

"Beginning in 1799 ... (Lyon) made excursions as far west as Nashville and as far south as Florida. Most of his travels, however, were in the southern Appalachians, especially into Western North Carolina, which he visited on seven separate occasions. Asheville became his home away from home." -- from "Beautiful World Farewell! The Story of John Lyon: Scottish Explorer, Plant Hunter and Nurseryman"

IF YOU GO

What: A celebration of the book "27 Views of Asheville: A Southern Mountain Town in Prose & Poetry" (Eno Publishe rs, $15.95). Introduced by Rob Neufeld, a dozen authors present a string of flash readings from the book.
When: 3 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Malaprop's Bookstore/Café, 55 Haywood St., Asheville.
Admission: Reserve a space with a $5 ticket, redeemable for a $5 coupon at the event. Call 254-6734 or visit www.malaprops.com.

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