By Gina Malone
The Wilma Dykeman Legacy and the Thomas Wolfe Memorial State Historic Site will partner for the fifth year to present the Thomas Wolfe Short Story Book Club, free and open to the public. Four monthly discussions by local authors on selected stories by Wolfe will be held beginning Thursday, January 17, from 5:30–7 p.m. Led by Terry Roberts (That Bright Land), the first discussion will focus on “His Father’s Earth.” Refreshments will be served.
Subsequent discussions are “Return” and “Old Catawba” (February 14) led by Brandon Johnson, instructor of English at Mars Hill University; “Circus at Dawn” (March 14), led by Dan Clare, English teacher at A.C. Reynolds High School, and Ann Clare, a member of the Thomas Wolfe Memorial advisory board; and “The Hollyhock Savers” (April 11) led by Ellen Brown, author of John Apperson’s Lake George.
This will be the third year that husband and wife Dan and Ann Clare have led discussions for the series. “As an AP Language and Composition teacher, I’ve come to love succinct texts—I believe that “Circus at Dawn” is between three to five pages—for analysis purposes,” Dan says. “Instead of obsessing over plot, keeping track of characters, etc., shorter texts allow the reader’s focus to fall on the diction, imagery, details, language and syntax elements of the work, which is, from a writer-craft standpoint, where the art is.”
Many of Wolfe’s short stories were originally published in magazines such as Scribner’s and The Modern Monthly and were meant, Dan says, for “quick consumption. Yet,” he adds, “in spite of the highly consumable quality of many of Wolfe’s shorter works, the underlying complexity of each story leads the reader to newfound places of literary connection and contemplation while concurrently grounding Ashevillian readers in their immediate surroundings.”
To learn more, visit WilmaDykemanLegacy.org. The Thomas Wolfe Memorial State Historic Site is located at 52 North Market Street in downtown Asheville. Stories discussed during the series may be found in The Complete Short Stories of Thomas Wolfe, available at the Thomas Wolfe Memorial and at local bookstores.