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2018

NORTH CAROLINA L I T E R A R Y RE V I E W

The Notorious and the Noteworthy in the Old North State by Margaret D. Bauer, Editor Inspired by our state’s notoriety after nationally unpopular legislation, former intern Ellen Franks suggested this year’s special feature topic. In 2016, the North Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill 2, more commonly known (throughout the country) as the Bathroom Bill. ECU students are proud of our “Leadership University” and would prefer that the state lead in anti-discrimination rather than discriminatory legislation against transgender people. As professors sometimes do, I used the student staff members’ dismay over our state’s sudden national disrepute as a teaching moment, pointing out to them that, even in the middle of the darkest chapters of our history, we have much to be proud of here in North Carolina, including an incredible number of talented writers who use their pens (or keyboards) to fight back against discrimination. Have you been to an Allan Gurganus or Bland Simpson reading lately? They are among the many literary stars of the Old North State who take advantage of their time at a podium to call on the rest of us to resist threats to the reputation and well-being of North Carolina. Another notorious event in North Carolina to receive national news coverage, this one from the more distant past, the mill strikes of 1929 inspired many writers, most recently, Wiley Cash, whose new novel is reviewed here. Other reviews in this special feature section are of recent books by several writers who put our North Carolina homes “on the map.” North Carolinians can find writers to be proud of, to brag about, from the western end of the state that produced Robert Morgan and Ron Rash to Eastern North Carolina, where Reynolds Price was born and to which Vivian Howard returned to open her restaurant, produce her television show, and write her cookbook/memoir. After watching her PBS series, people from all over started mapping their route to Kinston, which they had very likely never heard of prior to viewing A Chef’s Life.

North Carolina is certainly on the map as a vacation destination as well, whether tourists are heading to the Biltmore in Asheville or the beaches of the Outer Banks, and as you’ll find in other reviews here, these places also inspire writers. Between the mountains and the coast, the first public university in the country to hold classes, UNC Chapel Hill, boasts Big Fish author Daniel Wallace, as well as Bland Simpson and Randall Kenan among its faculty, just to name those UNC writing professors featured here in reviews and award news. Read, too, about Allan Gurganus, who writes about a “place between places”; through his fictional Falls, NC (and his international reputation), readers the world over know Rocky Mount, his hometown. Some of our writers who have made the news recently are not (yet) so well known, but their successes assure us that the next generation of North Carolina writers will continue to make us proud, and their North Carolina–set stories will reach audiences beyond the state, as evidenced by some of the awards you’ll read about here. Former Doris Betts Prize winner Leah Hampton, for example, shares with us another award-winning short story, which we place in this section both because of the prestige of the award (her $50,000 prize certainly made the news) and because the history-making 2016 presidential election plays a role in the story. Here, too, we include a poem by second-time Applewhite Prize finalist Janet Joyner because she alludes to the nation’s crumbling “Infrastructure” (the title of her poem) and a Confederate monument, two subjects found “in the news” recently. Enjoy the reviews, literary news, fiction, and poetry in the pages that follow, and then subscribe or renew to receive the 2018 print issue, which will include interviews with Vivian Howard and Allan Gurganus, an essay by Bland Simpson inspired by a conversation with Dr. William Friday, and Margaret Maron’s reflection upon finishing her last Deborah Knott mystery – about how this series took her across the state to enjoy many of the state’s gifts that put us “on the map.” n

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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