Reading Matters

‘27 Views of Wilmington’

Elizabeth Woodman had a terrific idea, and she’s still carrying it out in the most delightful way.

You remember a year or so ago, the book, “27 Views of Charlotte,” for which Charlotte historian Jack Claiborne wrote the introduction.

The series, from Eno Publishers in Hillsborough, has put out 27 views of other cities, too, including Raleigh, Hillsborough, Greensboro and Asheville. The best part of this series is that the 27 views in each collection are from local writers -- novelists, poets, essayists. What this amounts to is that nothing is quite by the book. Poets tend to describe their cities “slant,” a la Emily Dickinson. Novelists are always good for the rich detail. And essayists, well, a good essayist, will spin a smooth yarn with no scrimping on authority.

Now comes “27 Views of Wilmington: The Port City in Prose & Poetry.” The introduction is by my favorite North Carolina humorist and syndicated columnist Celia Rivenbark. And views include those by Ecotone editor Emily Louise Smith (”Winter light spares nothing on this island.”), novelist Jason Mott talking about the frigid early morning he lost his virginity in the backseat of a car in Hugh MacRae Park); Wendy Brenner on the Serpentarium and its intrepid owner; and Jim Leutze, former chancellor of UNC Wilmington, on “what happened in Wilmington in 1898.”

If you want to get to know a town the way its residents know it, this is the book to buy.

And, as they used to say on TV, “Hey, kids. Why not collect the whole set!”

Dannye: dpowell@charlotteobserver.com

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