Reading Matters

So what did you read during snow, ice?

Jon Buchan
Jon Buchan

Trecherous as it was, that January snow and ice made for perfect reading weather. So quiet. So calm. So still.

I’d like to say we laid a fire. Truth is, we turned on a fire, lit a few candles, and read the day away.

I scouted the countryside to see what our writers read that weekend. Ron Rash missed most of the storm because he was in France promoting his novel, “Above the Waterfall.” Back home in the mountains, he says he found bear tracks in the snow next to his house. Rash’s “Ron Rash Poems: New and Selected,” will be out in March.

Raleigh novelist and lawyer Kim Church (“Byrd”) re-read Patti Smith’s memoir of loss, “M Train,” and started “So You Don’t Get Lost in the Neighborhood,” by the French novelist and Nobel-winner Patrick Modiano.

Charlotte novelist and lawyer Jon Buchan (“Code of the Forest”) read the first half of Ta Nehesi Coates’ “Between the World and Me,” which he says should be “a key part of our community conversations about race in 2016.” Buchan also re-read a half dozen of the Supreme Court’s most significant cases on defamation

Novelist Abigail DeWitt of Burnsville (“Dogs,” “Lili”), now at work on a collection of linked short stories, “read and devoured” Elizabeth Strout’s novel, “My Name Is Lucy Barton.” Then she dug into British writer Tessa Hadley’s “Married Life and Other Stories,” which she says she loves.

Charlotte novelist and memoirist Judy Goldman (“Losing My Sister”) read “My Name Is Lucy Barton” once, turned back to page one and read it again. “I loved it that much,” she says. She also re-read “Dancing with Life,” by former Esquire editor-in-chief Phillip Moffitt, about the teachings and meditative practices of Buddhism.

Asheville novelist Tommy Hays (“What I Came to Tell You”) reread Ernest Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast,” about his early years in Paris in the ‘20s. His favorite sentence so far: “But sometimes when I was starting a new story and I could not get it going, I would sit in front of the fire and squeeze the peel of the little oranges into the edge of the flame and watch the sputter of blue that they made.”

And Hillsborough novelist and memoirist David Payne (“Barefoot to Avalon”) read British psychologist D.W. Winnicott’s “Playing and Reality,” about how play fosters our deepest sense of aliveness and encourages the developement of the True Self vs. the False Self, which Payne says makes sense to him, “both as a writer and a man.”

Dannye: dpowell@charlotteobserver.com

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