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himself and – with stops and starts – begins to make his life his own. Faced with a deadline for a manufactured extraordinary adventure, Bronfman begins his own extraordinary adventure to get there. In effect, Bronfman has begun a quest to find his own identity. He eventually realizes, “It’s what he was looking for every day of his life, in a larger sense of the word, and what he suspected everyone was looking for: definition, the answer to who you were” (118). During his journey, he takes deliberate steps. He joins a gym.

He begins to talk to people – especially women. Wallace offers us three distinct possibilities for becoming Bronfman’s companion to Destin: Sheila, a flighty receptionist who spends her idle time deciding what animals people remind her of and who says her career goal is to write instructions for IKEA furniture. Then there is Serena, a policewoman who seems always to run into Bronfman at his worst, but whose sharp wit mitigates his humiliation. And finally Coco, the maybe-girlfriend, prostitute and/or drug user who lives next door with

Bronfman’s neighbor/burglar/drug lord. Let the hijinks begin. The novel lacks the mystical nature of some of Wallace’s earlier novels like Big Fish (1998) and The Kings and Queens of Roam (2013) but retains the same whimsy that makes us smile and feel like we’re in on the joke with Wallace himself. The characters are just eccentric enough to make us chuckle but believable enough to feel like we’ve met someone exactly like that. As with his earlier novels, the text is crisp and tight. Wallace is actually fun to read. You never know what gems he’ll throw in at unexpected times.

NORTH CAROLINA, MY KITH, MY HOME acceptance remarks by Ali Standish introduced by Amber Colbert, intern The 2017 recipient of the AAUW Award for Young People’s Literature is Ali Standish for her debut novel, The Ethan I Was Before (HarperCollins, 2017), in which a grieving boy finds a new best friend and learns lessons about loss, pain, forgiveness, and moving on after a tragedy. The award was presented on November 17 in Raleigh, at the joint meeting of the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association and the Federation of North Carolina Historical Societies. Standish grew up in North Carolina, where she first encountered writing by creating a world called “Narbithia” in her backyard – a name coined by combining “Narnia” and “Terabithia.” She claims “nature [as] one of [her] earliest teachers,” and in North Carolina, she “was lucky enough to have lots of trees and ponds and creeks to roam through.” As a young adult, Standish spent summers at Duke Young Writers Camp, which she “highly recommends to any aspiring authors out there.”* She attended Pomona College in Claremont, CA, and earned an MFA in Children’s Writing from Hollins University in Roanoke, VA, and an MPhil in Children’s Literature from the University of Cambridge. After living in Washington, DC, and Cambridge, England, where she first began writing The Ethan I Was Before, she eventually moved back to her home state, settling in Raleigh, where she now lives with her family and is working on her next novel. n n n * Quotations come from the author’s website.

Thank you so much to the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association for having me here today and to the Association of American University Women for presenting me with this honor. I’m a native North Carolinian – I grew up in Charlotte and in Greensboro – but I’m only recently returning after a long time away. This place, though, has always been home to me, no matter how far afield I travel. Jay Griffiths, who writes about childhood, speaks about the concept of kith – a seldom-used term that is now used to speak of one’s closest relations. But the word kith comes from the old English word for native country, and she uses it to describe that first landscape which we come to know and love as children, which shelters us, nurtures our imagination, kindles our sense of wonder, and shapes us with a gentle guiding hand. This place is that place for me. It’s why my favorite sound is a katydid chorus, and why I have an abiding love for fireflies and magnolia trees. I’m a big believer in this concept of kith, but I’m not sure it should be limited to the natural world. Landscapes, after all, are populated with people who form communities around shared values and stories. Stories like the folklore of the Blue Ridge Mountains, or perhaps the oldest whodunit in our nation’s history, the

North Carolina Literary Review Online 2018  

A literary review published online annually by East Carolina University and by the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association.

North Carolina Literary Review Online 2018  

A literary review published online annually by East Carolina University and by the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association.

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