Margaret Mitchell House Lecture
Apr 21 2016 - 7:00pm
In her first work of nonfiction, Lee Smith deploys the wit, wisdom, and graceful prose for which she is beloved to conjure her early days in the small coal town of Grundy, Virginia, and beyond.
For the inimitable Smith, place is paramount. For 45 years, her fiction has lived and breathed with the rhythms and people of the Appalachian South. But never before has she written her own story. Set deep in the rugged Appalachian Mountains, the Grundy of Smith’s youth was a place of coal miners, mountain music, and her daddy’s dimestore. It was in that shop, where she listened to customers and invented life histories for the store’s dolls, that she began to learn the craft of storytelling.
Even though she adored Grundy, Smith’s formal education and travels took her far from Virginia, though her Appalachian upbringing never left her. Dimestore’s 15 essays are honest, wise, and entertaining. Smith has created both a moving, personal portrait and a broader meditation on embracing one’s heritage. Hers is an inspiring story of the birth of a writer and a poignant look at a way of life that has all but vanished.
Lee Smith began writing stories at the age of nine and selling them for a nickel apiece. Since then, she has written 17 works of fiction, including Fair and Tender Ladies, Oral History, and, most recently, Guests on Earth. She has received many awards, including the North Carolina Award for Literature and an American Academy of Arts and Letters fiction award. Her novel The Last Girls was a New York Times bestseller as well as winner of the Southern Book Critics Circle Award. (jasbro)