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Lee Smith (1) (1944–)

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23+ opere 6,430 membri 243 recensioni 23 preferito


Lee Smith is a novelist, short story writer, and educator. She was born in 1944 in Grundy, Virginia. Smith attended Hollins College in Roanoke, Virginia. In her senior year at Hollins, Smith entered a Book-of-the-Month Club contest, submitting a draft of a novel called The Last Day the Dog Bushes mostra altro Bloomed. The book, one of 12 entries to receive a fellowship, was published in 1968. Smith wrote reviews for local papers and continued to write short stories. Her first collection of short stories, Cakewalk, was published in 1981. Smith taught at North Carolina State University. Her novel, Oral History, published in 1983, was a Book-of-the-Month Club featured selection. She has received two O. Henry Awards, the Robert Penn Warren Prize for Fiction, the North Carolina Award for Fiction, the Lila Wallace/Reader's Digest Award, and the Academy Award in Literature presented by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. (Bowker Author Biography) mostra meno

Opere di Lee Smith

Opere correlate

The Book of Ballads (2004) — Collaboratore — 567 copie
Why I Write: Thoughts on the Craft of Fiction (1998) — Collaboratore — 187 copie
Downhome: An Anthology of Southern Women Writers (1995) — Collaboratore — 116 copie
The Literature of the American South: A Norton Anthology (1997) — Collaboratore — 98 copie
Charles Vess' Book of Ballads & Sagas (2018) — Collaboratore — 60 copie
New Stories from the South 2001: The Year's Best (2001) — Preface — 46 copie
The Seasons of Women: An Anthology (1995) — Collaboratore — 46 copie
Flannery O'Connor: A Celebration of Genius (2000) — Collaboratore — 39 copie
Southern Dogs and Their People (2000) — Collaboratore — 39 copie
New Stories from the South: The Year's Best, 1997 (1997) — Collaboratore — 34 copie
New Stories from the South: The Year's Best, 1996 (1996) — Collaboratore — 33 copie
New Stories from the South: The Year's Best, 1991 (1991) — Collaboratore — 32 copie
New Stories from the South: The Year's Best, 1992 (1992) — Collaboratore — 22 copie
The New Great American Writers' Cookbook (2003) — Collaboratore — 21 copie
New Stories from the South: The Year's Best, 1987 (1987) — Collaboratore — 14 copie
A Portrait of Southern Writers: Photographs (2000) — Collaboratore — 13 copie


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Having read and enjoyed two other books by Lee Smith, Fair and Tender Ladies almost seemed like a sure thing with the high reviewer ratings on Goodreads.

I thought the writing and historical aspects of rural living in Appalachia was well crafted. Even though the characters were fictional, I am guessing there was more truth to the story than not. The story was told from the perspective of Ivy Rowe in the form of letters to friends and family. I enjoyed the epistolary format. The errors in grammar and spelling that were purposely inserted into the letters (which improved as Ivy became older) did not bother me.

This was a dark story though, with late 19th century and early 20th century rural living portrayed in it's grittiest form. There were a few rays of sunshine in the book, when Ivy actually felt momentary joy or soaked in the beauty of nature, which Lee Smith also depicts well. I think I didn't completely connect with this story, as for the most part Ivy comes across as incredibly selfish and "contrary," even as she ages. Ivy was described as being beautiful, which either brought her grief or gave her opportunities, which she usually passed up for various odd reasons. Overall, Ivy wasn't especially likable and most of the letters she wrote were a form of therapy for her, versus being a form of information or entertainment for the recipient. I did feel sympathy for Ivy's situation and her longing for a better life or wondering what might of been. Having said that, I also kept waiting for Ivy to grow up and stop letting her emotions (or every handsome man that looked her way) quickly lure her into making incredibly poor decisions.

The plethora of societal issues inserted into the story, including infidelity, poverty, incest, criminal activity, hidden LBGTQ lifestyles and hypocrisy in religion, just became overwhelming. Most of the characters were portrayed as neurotic or "simple," which is how Ivy sometimes described family or friends in her letters. Not meaning the author should have ignored these issues, but maybe dialed back the constant drama a little. Perhaps this just wasn't the right time for me to soak in and fully appreciate the author's message, especially with the ongoing pandemic and the frustration those of us with critical thinking skills, are continuing to experience with certain members of our society.

This is a story many readers of historical fiction would probably appreciate, though I had mixed feelings about it and difficulty deciding on a rating. Out of fairness to the author, I settled on 3.5 stars and round it up to 4.
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Ann_R | 22 altre recensioni | May 25, 2024 |
Oh, my. Such a lovely, touching book. If you have any experience living in Appalachia, this will ring so true to you.

[Audiobook note: The narrator, Kate Forbes, absolutely nails the mountain accent. No caricature; no Deep South drawl. She has the real voice. And she employs it so well, aging the voice as the character grows from adolescent to aged woman.]
Treebeard_404 | 22 altre recensioni | Jan 23, 2024 |
’ve been wanting to read this ever since I first heard about it several years ago, and thanks to receiving a copy from Anita Endrezze as a gift this Christmas (or was it for my birthday?) - anyway I know it was in December – I wasted no time.

Fifteen essays that take us from Lee Smith’s childhood in the Appalachian mountain town of Grundy, Virginia through her college years in Roanoke, Virginia, and conclude in North Carolina with the book’s publication in 2016. This is a memoir that is also a coming-of-age story and a discourse on writing.

In addition to the memories of her childhood and growing up years, I found her thoughts about writing and imagination were perceptive treasures that any good writer would value. Just like Edora Welty’s commentary in One Writer’s Beginnings, this book contains thoughtful observations and honest reflections on the craft of writing. For instance, she takes a mentor’s advice to “Get your head out of them clouds, honey. Pay attention.” And Lee writes: “I’ve been trying to pay attention ever since, realizing that writing is not about fame, or even publication. It is not about exalted language, abstract themes, or the escapades of glamourous people. It is about our own real world and our own real lives and understanding what happens to us day by day, it is about playing with children and listening to old people.”

Yes, this is a memoir about growing up in the Appalachian Mountains – but more than that it is a collection of brilliant observations and amazing insights about writing. This is the book for you if you want to enjoy personal and succinctly written essays chronicling the development and growth of a writer.
… (altro)
PhyllisReads | 51 altre recensioni | Jan 18, 2024 |
In the summer of 1965, twelve girls from a women's college, inspired by reading Huckleberry Finn in an American literature class, decide to recreate his ride down a raft on the Mississippi.  Thirty-four years later, four of them - Harriet, Courtney, Anna, and Catherine - agree to meet on a steamboat cruise from Memphis to New Orleans, to spread the ashes of a fifth, their former roommate/suitemate, Baby (aka Margaret).  She had died recently in a car wreck, and her widower had requested that they do this.

The cruise provides the framework for their reminisces of that 1965 trip (and other college activities), as well as their own individual pasts and presents.  Each chapter is told from the viewpoint of a different girl, and there are even some chapters told from the viewpoint of Russell, Catherine's third husband, who came with her on the trip.

Harriet is a college teacher, never married.  Courtney's still married to the man she dropped out of college to wed, but he's cheated on her for years - so she's also had a long-standing affair going on.  Anna is divorced and a successful romance writer, and Catherine is a sculptor.  Harriet and Anna were scholarship students, while the other three came from wealthy families.

All of the women are Southerners (from Virginia, West Virginia, Alabama, and North Carolina), and the cruise of course is in the deep South, and writing about Southerners and the South is author Lee Smith's forte.  The novel was inspired by a similar raft trip she took with Hollins College classmates in 1966, although she makes clear in the acknowledgments (page 383) that the book is "truly fiction....but the idea of river journey as metaphor for the course of women's lives has intrigued me for years."

They're the "last girls," because, according to Harriet (page 71), "they'd call us women in the newspaper if it [the raft trip] happened now."

I enjoyed this book.  I could relate to the characters to some extent, despite being about 12 years younger.  I went to an all-girls high school in Houston, where many of the girls were wealthy, but I was on scholarship.  Our high school still offered home economics classes then (they haven't for some time).  There was a group of eight to ten of us who were close in high school and college, but drifted apart as we got older - especially in my case, as I was the one who didn't return to our hometown after college, eventually living over 2000 miles away for over 20 years.  Like the women in the book, I wasn't especially close to any of these girls 34 years later.

I also enjoyed the snippets of a cruise experience in the book, and could relate to those.  Although I've never been on a Mississippi riverboat cruise (but would like to go), the Caribbean and Hawaii cruises I've been on had a lot of similarities.  Particularly funny was the couple who shared a dinner table with the five women and Russell (who, by the way, was a hoot).

I did at times have trouble following the quick switches between past and present in the chapters, and I don't understand why Smith felt a need to add a chapter at the end (after the end of the cruise) that summarized the lives of the other seven girls on the 1965 raft trip.  And I also felt the book left some questions - what did Harriet and Courtney end up doing in New Orleans - and how did Baby really die?
… (altro)
riofriotex | 19 altre recensioni | Dec 22, 2023 |


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