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Scribblers: Stalking the Authors of Appalachia [NOOK Book]

Overview

In the small mountain city of Asheville, North Carolina, Thomas Wolfe lies at eternal rest just a few steps from William Sydney Porter, better known as O. Henry. Those graves are a short hop from the great inn where F. Scott Fitzgerald tried to dictate his writing from a body cast, and a half-hour’s drive from the estate where the aged Carl Sandburg wrote deep into the night.

The city’s ties to the world of letters are equally strong today. ...
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Scribblers: Stalking the Authors of Appalachia

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Overview

In the small mountain city of Asheville, North Carolina, Thomas Wolfe lies at eternal rest just a few steps from William Sydney Porter, better known as O. Henry. Those graves are a short hop from the great inn where F. Scott Fitzgerald tried to dictate his writing from a body cast, and a half-hour’s drive from the estate where the aged Carl Sandburg wrote deep into the night.

The city’s ties to the world of letters are equally strong today. Gail Godwin and Charles Frazier were schooled in Asheville, for example, and Robert Morgan and Fred Chappell in the immediate area.

Stephen Kirk, author of Scribblers, is an editor and would-be literary gadfly. Taking Asheville as his canvas, he learns stories of the area’s legendary authors and interviews some of its contemporary greats. Meanwhile, he also seeks out writers living in the shadows of the famous. He meets genre authors who make their living penning romances, Westerns, and mysteries. He immerses himself in the culture of writers’ groups and conferences, exploring the hopes and frustrations of the unpublished and self-published. For every well-known author, there are a thousand folks laboring in obscurity. What drives them so hard, given such a remote chance of success?

Scribblers is ultimately a humorous, sympathetic examination of the writer’s urge, set against the background of a noted literary town. Its Woody Allen-style narrator, who wants to be in the club as badly as the rest, casts a critical eye on his own efforts as he flubs a few interviews, commits a faux pas here and there, and gradually finds his way.
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Editorial Reviews

Ron Rash
“Scribblers is a fascinating and insightful account of those who have dedicated themselves to creating novels—both the famous and the obscure. Scribblers is one of the most enjoyable books I have read on what Dylan Thomas called the ‘art and sullen craft’ that is writing.”
Jerry Bledsoe
“Quirky and laugh-out-loud funny, Scribblers is one of the most entertaining, insightful and honest books about writing that I ever read. Anybody interested in writing—and not just the writing of Appalachia—should read it.”
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Product Details

  • BN ID: 2940016299082
  • Publisher: Blair, John F. Publisher
  • Publication date: 3/14/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 248
  • File size: 324 KB

Meet the Author

Stephen Kirk wrote his first short story during his junior year at St. Lawrence University. The assignment was to turn in a fifteen-page piece by the end of the semester, but he was so excited that he gave his professor a story in excess of twenty-five pages with six weeks still to go in the term. Pleased to have such an eager student, the professor read the entire story aloud to the class, then invited comments. What followed was the shortest critique session in history. After a minute’s silence, one student raised her hand. “Nothing happens,” she said. Her classmates nodded their unanimous agreement, and that was that. Though he might make every other writing mistake, Kirk decided that he would never again bore his audience.

Two years later, as an M.F.A. student at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, he wrote his second story. It appeared in the Greensboro Review and was subsequently selected by John Updike for reprinting in the Best American Short Stories series. Since then, he has written First in Flight: The Wright Brothers in North Carolina, now in its third printing, and Scribblers: Stalking the Authors of Appalachia.

Kirk has gotten to know many authors during his twenty-one years as a book editor. He has also been in the position of rejecting thousands of manuscripts, which has given him a special sympathy for struggling writers. This experience of witnessing an occasional publishing success amid an avalanche of failures gave him the idea for Scribblers, in which he observes a cross section of unpublished, self-published, genre, and literary writers in a small but vigorous authors’ town made famous by the likes of Thomas Wolfe, F. Scott Fitzgerald, O. Henry, Carl Sandburg, Gail Godwin, Charles Frazier, Robert Morgan, Fred Chappell, and others.

Born in Geneva, New York, Kirk has lived for more than twenty years in North Carolina. He currently resides near Winston-Salem with his wife and two daughters.
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2004

    An intriging collection of Appalachian writers

    'When I go to the barbershop and the barber says, 'What do you do for a living?' it's like I can't think of a thing to tell him. And the only answer I've come up with, which I have not had the courage yet to speak to a stranger, is to say, 'I collect people's lives.'' In Scribblers, Stephen Kirk, who for 16 years has been editor-in-chief at John F. Blair, Publisher. For Scribblers, he visited Asheville, North Carolina, and its environs, including the Black Mountains and the Blue Ridge Mountains, to collect people's lives, or, as Kirk elsewhere puts it, 'stalking the authors of Appalachia.' A better title for Kirk's book would be Scriveners and Scribblers, for he writes about both professionals and amateurs, veterans and wannabes, the masters of prose and those posing as masters. Asheville's greatest literary son is Thomas Wolfe, author of manuscripts famously carved by editor Maxwell Perkins into four novels--Look Homeward, Angel; Of Time and the River; The Web and the Rock; and You Can't Go Home Again. Wolfe was also the writer of numerous high-quality short stories. But there are many other striking literary connections in the greater Asheville area. At nearby Hendersonville, North Carolina, Carl Sandburg had a summer home. O. Henry (William Sydney Porter) was buried at Asheville's Riverside Cemetery, where Wolfe's remains also are interred. F. Scott Fitzgerald lived and wrote in the area, and on March 10, 1948, Scott's wife Zelda died in a fire at Asheville's Highland Mental Hospital. Scribblers is a combination of literary history and personal memoir. Kirk interviews many contemporary writers of Appalachia--such as Sharyn McCrumb, Fred Chappell, Charles Price, Gail Godwin, Robert Morgan, Jill Jones, Randy Russell, Bill Brooks, Jan Karon, Joan Medlicott, Ann B. Ross, and Charles (Cold MOuntain) Frazier--sharing fascinating anecdotes about their lives and work. Kirk peppers Scribblers with a self-deprecation that will make you laugh out loud. Moreover, he includes informative details about the creative process, the craft of writing, the publishing industry, the book trade, and print-on-demand technology. An attempt to position this book in a specific genre is doomed to failure. Let's just say that it features many items of interest for inveterate readers. For instance, a woman whom Kirk met at a writers' workshop 'began taking trips to Ireland, the land of her ancestry. Struck by the many parallels in folklore, dance, music, and crafts between Ireland and the southern Appalachians--attributed to the Scots-Irish migration of the nineteenth century--she resolved to write a book on the subject.' Kirk voice is unpretentious; he pulls no punches; he lets the chips fall where they may; he can laugh at himself as well as at others. And, although one should think twice about riding with the author in his decrepit Oldsmobile, accompanying him through the pages of Scribblers is a delightful trip. I must take issue, however, with Kirk's disparagement of Thomas Wolfe as 'a freshman trying to fill a blue book, desperately hoping windiness and obfuscation will cover for a dearth of substance.' As if, in his wildest dreams, Mr. Kirk could ever come close to the genius of Wolfe's artistry! Pat Conroy's assessment of Wolfe, which Kirk relates, is more palatable. 'For Conroy,' writes Kirk, 'Wolfe is the Babe Ruth of literature, a man who swung for the fence, who wrote like his hair was on fire, who was battered by critics but never cowed, who was more courageous than other writers because he refused to hold himself back, even for his own protection.' In this matter, Conroy rather than Kirk is closer to the truth. I agree with Conroy and consider Thomas Wolfe's Look Homeward, Angel one of the dozen greatest English-language novels of the 20th century. Roy E. Perry of Nolensville is an advertising copywriter at a Nashville publishing house. ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stephen Kirk, a grad

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