Reading Matters

Late headmaster’s son is master of short story

T.D. (Tim) Johnston is the son of the late Robert Johnston, who was headmaster of Charlotte Country Day School from 1986-1992.

No surprise then that the title story of Johnston’s debut short story collection, “Friday Afternoon and Other Stories,” is set on Highway 16 west of Charlotte and mentions in passing the Panthers and the late first-weekend-of-each-month flea market.

“Friday Afternoon” is a frightening story about a Charlotte guy named Bryce Sanford who, in a fit of road rage, tries to pass a pickup on a rural two-lane highway. What follows is a skillfully-paced, action-packed story that’s scarier than you’re prepared for.

In “Sixth Period,” a school teacher is ordered to discontinue the inclusion of “greed” in discussing the Seven Deadly Sins with her students.

Says the editor of O.Henry Magazine: “T.D. Johnston is clearly one of the modern masters of the short story.” And even Pat Conroy weighed in before his death, praising the wide range of subject matter, “with masterful attention to the age-old elements of good writing.”

Johnston will read from his new collection Wednesday evening at 7 at Charlotte Lit, 1819 Central Avenue. And Thursday at 7 p.m., he will read at Park Road Books, Park Road Shopping Center.

Johnston lives in Beaufort, where he serves on the Board of Governors of the South Carolina Academy of Authors. The readings are free, and you’re invited.

Dannye: dpowell@charlotteobserver.com

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