July 31, 2012. August 2012 is just around the corner which means so is the start of Ashe County’s Community Read, an annual county-wide engagement in the reading and discussion of a selected book. For Community Read 2012, Ashe County residents are encouraged to participate by reading the book “Mrs. Darcy and the Blue-eyed Stranger” by part-time Ashe County resident and award-winning author Lee Smith.
To kick off Community Read 2012, a presentation by Darnell Arnoult on short stories will be held on Tuesday afternoon, August 7 at 1:00 p.m. at the Ashe County Public Library. The presentation is free and open to the public. Arnoult is Writer-in-Residence at Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, TN, and is a prize-winning author in her own right for “What Travels With Us: Poems” and the novel, “Sufficient Grace”. She holds a Master of Arts from North Carolina State University, and is a faculty member of the Duke Writers Workshop, the Tennessee Young Writers Workshop, the John C. Campbell Folk School, and Learning Events.
To conclude the month-long Community Read, the community is invited to an open discussion of “Mrs. Darcy and the Blue-eyed Stranger” led by Shannon Ravenal, director of the Algonquin imprint “Shannon Ravenal Books,” and publisher of “Mrs. Darcy and the Blue-eyed Stranger” as well as other books by Smith. The book discussion will be held Tuesday September 11 at 1:00 at the Ashe County Public Library and is free and open to the public.
Ravenal has worked in publishing for almost 50 years—first, in Houghton Mifflin’s editorial department from 1961-1971, then as Series Editor of The Best American Short Stories from 1977-1990, as a co-founder with Louis Rubin of Algonquin Books in 1982, and Algonquin’s Editorial Director from 1992 to 2001.
Lee Smith, author of this year’s Community Read book selection, is a Grundy, Virginia native who now makes her home in Hillsborough, NC and her “mountain home” in Ashe County. She helped ignite the success of Ashe County’s literary festival with her early participation and support. A recipient of the Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the North Carolina Award for Literature, and the Southern Book Critics Circle Award, she has published 12 novels and four collections of short stories. Mrs. Darcy and the Blue Eyed Stranger, a collection of new and selected short stories, was published in 2010, the year in which Lee received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the State Library of Virginia.
The Community Read is a preface event to Ashe County’s On the Same Page Literary Festival, now in its fifth year. The festival, with the theme of “Journeys” for 2012, will be held from September 12 – 15, and will feature authors: Libby Bagby, Tim Gautreaux, Georgann Eubanks, Gyleen Fitzgerald, Vicki Lane, D.G. Martin, A.J. Mayhew, Jim Minick, and Lee Smith.