Series Explores Regional Memoirs with Their Authors

Collage of book covers of upcoming talks

By Gina Malone

The annual lecture and book discussion series presented by the Wilma Dykeman Legacy returns this month with My Story: Four Great WNC Memoirs. The series, free and open to the public, encompasses eight evenings beginning Thursday, September 12, at 7 p.m. at the West Asheville Public Library with a talk by Michael Lambert on Up From These Hills: Memories of a Cherokee Boyhood. The memoir tells the story of his father Leonard Carson Lambert Jr.’s upbringing on and around the reservation of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina and Tennessee during the 1930s and 1940s.

“My father’s story will resonate with anyone whose family was in the Appalachian Mountains during the Depression,” says Michael Lambert, associate professor of Anthropology and African Studies at UNC–Chapel Hill. “I worked on my father’s memoir with an audience of people who are rooted in the Appalachian Mountains in mind. For me, this is a unique opportunity to discuss the memoir directly with this audience.” A readers’ book discussion will be held the following week on Wednesday, September 18.

On October 10, John Snyder, former executive director of Morgan Stanley, who grew up near Brevard and with his aunts in Greenville, SC, will present a talk on his memoir Hill of Beans, also an account of Depression-era years. Snyder will be present for the discussion of his book by readers on October 16.

Cindy McMahon, a resident of Asheville, will appear to discuss her memoir Fresh Water from Old Wells on November 14 and will also be present for the book discussion on November 20. Her book traces her growing-up years with activist hippie parents in Georgia and North Carolina during the turbulent 1960s and 1970s.

The final presenter on December 12 will be Jennifer McGaha, lecturer at UNC–Asheville and author of Flat Broke with Two Goats. “Writing can sometimes be a lonely endeavor,” says McGaha, “but when I meet readers who tell me that my work impacted their lives in some way or gave voice to an experience they had, I am inspired. Then I can go home and write something again and maybe feel a little less lonely the next time because I see that I am not shouting into a void, but that real human beings are on the other end of this thing I am doing.” A readers’ discussion of Flat Broke With Goats on December 18 will bring the series to a close.

A limited number of books are available for advance purchase with remaining copies for sale at the events. To order in advance, email

The West Asheville Public Library is located at 942 Haywood Road. All events begin at 7 p.m. and refreshments will be served. For more information, visit

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