Reading matters

It’s all about locations for NC novelists

May 17, 2014 

Location. Location. Location.

Locales in novels have their own distinctive terrain and inimitable weather. Imagine John Updike without his native Berks County, Pa. Jane Austen without Sussex or Devonshire. Would Pat Conroy still be Conroy without his beloved Lowcountry? Ron Rash or Charles Frazier without Appalachia? Story and location merge, inseparable as moss on rock.

Rose Senehi is fast claiming the Western North Carolina town of Chimney Rock. In “Dancing on Rocks” (K.I.M. Publishing), the fourth stand-alone novel in her Blue Ridge series, she returns to the town where Georgia Haydock stands on a bridge and watches “muddy water race over and around the massive boulders like a raging beast ramming its way down the gorge.”

Senehi reads June 13, 1 p.m., Barnes & Noble, New Hope Commons, Durham; June 13, 7 p.m., Barnes & Noble, Cary; June 14, 1 p.m. Barnes & Noble, Renaissance Parkway, Durham; June 20, 1 p.m. Barnes & Noble, Crabtree Mall, Raleigh; June 21, 1 p.m. Barnes & Noble, Brier Creek Parkway, Raleigh.

Charlotte’s Aaron Gwyn is the author of the new novel “Wynne’s War” (Houghton Mifflin), which Publisher’s Weekly describes as a “gripping tale of men at war in the desolate snow-capped mountains of eastern Afghanistan. ... ”

An excerpt: “They rode out of camp in the blue light before dawn, thirteen riders, four mules, six riderless horses bringing up the rear in the remuda. It was the first week of March and there was still snow in the shadows of the trees and in the stony draws on the northern slopes, but by noon the air was warm enough for shortsleeves. The horses stepped briskly, vapor rising from their nostrils like steam from a grate.”

Gwyn will read from the novel at 7 p.m. May 29 at the Regulator, 720 Ninth St., Durham; 7 p.m. May 30 at Flyleaf Books, 752 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, in Chapel Hill; and at 2 p.m. May 31 at McIntyre’s Books in Fearrington Village.

“The End of Always” (Twelve Books), a novel by Randi Davenport of Chapel Hill (“The Boy Who Loved Tornadoes: A Mother’s Story”), is set in 1907 Wisconsin and tells of a young woman’s struggle to rise above her family legacy of violence.

“Once you got outside of Waukesha, there was farmland. You might see a farmer with his plow, the furrows opening up like rounded slits in the ground and falling away behind the blade as the axle passed over. Just beyond the farmland came the forest. This was my land. This was where I walked. Up under the trees where the earth seemed to curve away and the sky opened over me like a bell. That was where I could breathe. That was where I could think. That was where I felt free.”

Send me your favorite locales and the writers who created them.

Powell: dpowell@charlotteobserver.com

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