Amazing Place: What North Carolina Means to Writers edited by Marianne Gingher

When I read a novel or short story with a North Carolina setting, one of my greatest pleasures is that I’m familiar with the amazingregion, if not the exact place, where the story occurs.  Every familiar street name or landmark, every insight into what makes this place special, makes a good book even more enjoyable.

This book of personal narratives by twenty-two North Carolina authors attempts to answer questions such as “We seem to have a lot of writers here.  Why?  How does living in North Carolina matter?  How has some specific ‘where’ in North Carolina served as muse?”  The writers include Fred Chappell, Lee Smith, Marianne Gingher, Robert Morgan, Clyde Edgerton, Michael Parker, and Jill McCorkle, to name only a few.  They share autobiographical tidbits, descriptions of places they love and the connection of these places to their writing.  Their narratives may make you laugh aloud or nod your head in agreement.

Here are two selections from the section by Marianne Gingher, who grew up in Greensboro and settled there as an adult:

“Greensboro, North Carolina, dubbed the Gate City.  Greensboring we teenagers called the place. Grimsboro.  Gate to nowhere.  I didn’t know anybody whose dream was to stay.  There wasn’t anything wrong with the place; it was just such a normal town.  Normal was like average and average meant C.”

“Long live Greensboro, land of…a pretty downtown library, a glorious symphony orchestra…the glossy Civil Rights Museum in the renovated Woolworth’s…five four-year colleges…same as any place, and just enough different, too.”

Read the entirety of Amazing Place – only about 200 pages – or focus only on your favorite authors – but do take a look at it!

(Helen Snow, retired from Information Services)

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