5/1/21: Our writing group met in person for the first time since lockdown. Which meant: Pat’s deviled eggs.
11/15/20: Goodbye to The State of Things. Our local NPR station has announced that the show will end when host Frank Stasio retires at the end of the year. Congratulations to Frank on a long and brilliant career, and thanks for having me.
9/1/20: I was guest author in Joseph Bathanti’s “Stories Can Save Us” class at Watauga College, Appalachian State University’s interdisciplinary residential college, where I was a student in the ’70s. It was a great homecoming, the students thoughtful and provocative as always. Our Zoom shirts were clean, our hair long. Most surprising question: “How do you deal with procrastination?” Let me get back to you.
8/25/20: A sad goodbye: the pandemic has closed our K&W, “the hangout of choice for writers in Raleigh” featured in Georgann Eubanks’ Literary Trails of Eastern North Carolina and the inspiration for my short story, “Cafeteria Lady.” I shared many a meal there with Angela Davis-Gardner, Peggy Payne, Carrie Knowles — our own Algonquin in the heart of Cameron Village.
7/27/19: Delighted to pay tribute to the amazing Dannye Powell at the North Carolina Writers Conference, held for the first time this year in my hometown, Lexington.
4/12/19: Home after a spring residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, where I got to pretend for a while I was living a hundred years ago.
2/26/19: On Saturday, March 23, the N.C. Arts Council will celebrate the 30th anniversary of its fellowship program with free day-long writing workshops at Cary Arts Center. Angela Davis-Gardner and I will lead the fiction workshop. Lunch is included and you’ll have an opportunity to present your work. Email me if you’d like a registration form.
1/29/19: Thanks to Darrell Laurant for featuring Byrd on his blog, Snowflakes in a Blizzard.
12/21/18: Hot off the press! Issue #37 of INCH Magazine includes my shortest story so far, “The Residence at Cedar Crest,” written on the train after my last visit with a dying friend. I hope he would laugh over it, his muttery little laugh.
11/18/18: “What conditions best help you hear and respond to the tapping of a story? What interferes?” — moderator Nancy Peacock’s opening question to our panel on social media and its effects on creativity. Thanks to Nancy, co-panelists Charles Fiore, Anna Jean Mayhew, Michele Berger, and Ralph Hardy, host Quail Ridge Books, and all the writers in the audience for a spirited conversation.
10/19/18: Honored to introduce Abigail DeWitt at Quail Ridge Books, reading from her gorgeous new novel, News of Our Loved Ones.
9/29/18: Fun with the Sip ‘n’ Sign Book Club at Pedaler Wine & Beer: drinks, snacks, Byrd talk, & pinball.
9/11/18: On the eve of Hurricane Florence, a delicious afternoon with the Tea and Tattered Pages Book Club, where we talked about things other than the storm. And I still made it home in time to bring in the laundry ahead of the rain.
6/30/18: INCH, the Bull City Press magazine devoted to compressed literary work, will publish my new short-short story, “The Residence at Cedar Crest.” I’m so happy. I love this magazine. I do a little dance every time the new one comes. Then I sit down and read it, sometimes twice. Then I get up and do another little dance.
5/15/18: Variety night with Steve Mitchell at Quail Ridge Books, talking about his novel Cloud Diary and playing songs from the Cloud Diary Music Project: my country waltz “Use the Back Door,” with Steve Sollod helping out on lap steel, and sax player Laurent Estoppey’s otherworldly “Away Is Never Far Enough.”
4/30/18: A week alone at Weymouth pretending to be Henry David Thoreau: read, write, walk into town and back, take nap, repeat.
3/27/18: The sweetest gift: a first edition of Byrd, passed around, read, and inscribed by friends from Watauga College. Thanks to Craig Stokes, who hatched the plot, Mike and Noel McLaughlin, who delivered the book to me, and all the Wataugans who conspired. What a treasure.
3/25/18: Thanks to JoAnn Harrington, Jewel Tolan, and the SearStone Retirement Community Book Club for a warm welcome, tasty lunch, lively discussion, and sunny room where we could bask in spring despite the cold.
3/23/18: Fun with Anna Quindlen. Me: Your New York Times column was “Life in the 30s.” Later you said if you wrote a fifties version you’d call it “Where The Hell Are My Keys?”. What would you call a sixties version? Anna: “What Keys?” Me: Or just, “What?” Thanks to René Martin of Quail Ridge Books for bringing us together.
2/16/18: Just finished scoring stories for the Raleigh Fine Arts Society’s annual high school literary contest. I do this every year, and every year I read something that surprises me and sharpens my notions about what can make a story jump off the page. Congratulations to all the contestants, and may the jumpingest story win.
12/11/17: Darren DeFrain’s graduate fiction class at Wichita State University devoted this semester to in-depth readings of Dzanc titles, complemented by Skype visits with the authors. I was one of the lucky authors. Several students made trailers for Byrd as their final projects—very different interpretations, and I love them all. Thanks to Darren, Michelle Dotter at Dzanc, and student filmmakers Annmarie Woods, Josh Zimmerer, Victoria Hendricks, and Abigail Rogers.
By Annmarie Woods and Josh Zimmerer:
By Victoria Hendricks:
By Abigail Rogers:
11/21/17: Thanks to Antionette Kerr and photographer Donnie Roberts for this lovely piece in Davidson Living Magazine. And thanks to my sister Marty for sharing.
11/16/17: “The Mechanics of Hope,” my interview with Heather Bell Adams, is in the new South Writ Large.
10/3/17: “Oh, you’d think it would be so much easier the second time.” My interview with Nancy Kilgore about her new novel, Wild Mountain, is in the new Fiction Writers Review.
9/21/17: Had a blast talking with Darren Defrain‘s graduate fiction class at Wichita State University today. Thanks for the great comments and questions, and extra credit to Mariah Beth Perkins for her Spotify playlist.
9/14/17: In conversation with Heather Bell Adams on the release of her beautiful debut novel, Maranatha Road.
8/15/17: Just posted: faculty readings at the N.C. Writers Network Fall Conference, November 2016 — Clare Beams, Angela Davis-Gardner, Haven Kimmel, Shelby Stephenson, and me. Thanks, NCWN.
7/20/17: Mm-mm. This beautiful, inventive review by Andrew Hedglin of Lemuria Books: “Thirteen Ways of Looking at Kim Church’s Byrd.”
6/22/17: Fashion, fiction, and buttermilk pound cake at the Galatea Gathering of Local Authors. Happy 20th anniversary, Galatea!
5/22/17: Blue, blue, my book is blue. Thanks to Dzanc Books for the new edition of Byrd!
4/23/17: A Sunday full of surprises. Myra Debruhl recommended Byrd in the News & Observer’s “Triangle Reads” column. Myra, herself an author and a member of the VIP Book Club at the North Carolina Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, listened to the audiobook narrated for Audible by Lauren Fortgang. And Women AdvaNCe chose Byrd as its recommended Sunday reading, calling it “a beautifully written story that explores heartache, family secrets, and personal triumph.”
3/9/17: Beautiful evening at the new Northeast Regional Library. Thanks to Crystal Mitchener, Arts & Literature Librarian, for the warm welcome, and to all the writers who came. You enrich my world.
1/10/17: New podcast — Melissa Clay of the UNC Institute for Arts and Humanities talks to Anna Hayes and me about writing, the South, and the Crook’s Corner Book Prize.
12/6/16: Last night, a French literary café at the UNC Institute for Arts and Humanities: French food, French wine, French music, and a French-speaking moderator for our panel discussion about writing, café culture, and the Crook’s Corner Book Prize, modeled after literary prizes awarded by legendary Parisian cafés. This morning’s breakfast: leftover profiteroles.
11/4/16: What makes me feel rich: a book club that does this.
Dear Kim, If I could ask you one question as I prepare for next week’s meeting of the book club at North Regional Library in Durham, it would be this: I enjoyed how two of your characters had a small detail about their houses that made them feel “rich”: Elle’s automatic garage door and Addie’s handcrafted doorbell. I have a couple of things that do that for me as well. I’m assuming you do too? I’m planning to ask the readers in my group if there’s some detail about home that makes them feel this way. Would you care to share yours? Thanks, Emily T.
Dear Emily, I don’t have a garage door opener, or even a garage, but I do have a handcrafted doorbell like Addie’s that makes me feel rich. Thanks, Kim
Dear Kim, We had a great discussion of Byrd. Truly a book whose characters stay with you long after you turn the last page. Thank you! I asked the members about what made them feel “rich.” Here are some of their answers. Mine, not pictured, was having enough kitchen cupboard space to store all my containers with their own lids. Life is made up of so many little things. Thanks again, Emily
[Attached to the email are pictures of Post-It notes in different colors, each listing a different item:]
Earphones for the TV so that my husband can watch sci-fi and I can read
My grandmother’s sewing cabinet
Having a bathroom next to my bedroom
Oriental rugs that have moved with us since 1988. Rug dealer says colors are dated.
Big pile of library books
Christmas tree closet
Large enough home so that I can rearrange furniture as much as I like
11/1/16: Congratulations to Daniel Hoyt, winner of the inaugural Dzanc Books Prize for Fiction for, as he describes it, his “weird, pulpy, metafictional” debut novel This Book Is Not For You. Actually, this book is for me. Hoyt’s narrator, Neptune, is part Holden Caulfield, part Huck Finn, part someone I’ve never met anywhere. Sharp-edged, defiant, profane, and brutally funny, he got to me in spite of himself.
Congratulations also to finalists Meghan L. Dowling (A Catalogue of Small Pains), Michael Downs (The Strange and True Tale of Horace Wells, Surgeon Dentist), Christian Hayden (An Exhalation of Larks), and Jenny Wu (NoNo). What an honor and an absolute gas to read these manuscripts.
9/17/16: Saturday morning before writers’ group.
8/26/16: Goodbye to my VCCA pals. Thanks for the inspiration. And the candy.
7/10/16: They came, they wrote, they revised.
7/1/16: Sakes alive! The Charlotte Observer listed its top twelve Southern picks for book clubs. Say hello to number eight.
1. A Long and Happy Life, Reynolds Price
2. Dreams of Sleep, Josephine Humphreys
3. “Falling,” James Dickey
4. Dimestore, Lee Smith
5. Ellen Foster, Kaye Gibbons
6. “The Worn Path,” Eudora Welty
7. “A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” Flannery O’Connor
8. Byrd, Kim Church
9. Raney, Clyde Edgerton
10. “The Ugliest Pilgrim,” Doris Betts
11. Sweetgirl, Travis Mulhauser
12. The Book of Colors, Raymond Barfield
6/26/16: The Charlotte Observer reviews my Patti Smith piece: “This is the kind of creativity possible when the mind is relaxed, confident, and leaning a bit daffyward.”
5/10/16: “M Train by Patti Smith, A Partial Index” is up on The Believer Logger.
4/7/16: Byrd featured in Garden & Gun: “The second winner of the Crook’s Corner Book Prize, chosen by judge Randall Kenan, was Kim Church, for Byrd. Church has also received a $10,000 North Carolina Arts Council Award. The Crook’s Corner Book Prize set off a cascade of prize attention for Byrd. It won the Independent Publisher Book Award bronze medal for literary fiction, was a Chautauqua Prize finalist and a Balcones Fiction Prize finalist, and was longlisted for the SIBA Book Award. “So many doors were opened to me because of the Crook’s Corner Book Prize,” said Church. “It was Byrd‘s first prize and my favorite–because of the momentum it created, and because it represents support from a literary community I admire and love.”
4/6/16: Now we’re having fun.
3/30/16: Thank you, Noel McLaughlin and Page Turners Book Club, for lunch and conversation. I love smart people and Caesar salad.
3/21/16: Excited to be a judge for the new Dzanc Books Prize for Fiction! Big money plus publication. You should enter.
2/29/16: Thanks to Dr. Jim Clark and the faculty, staff, and students of Barton College for a beautiful afternoon, sumptuous dinner (I should’ve photographed the cake), and warm reception. A fine way to spend a bonus day.
2/9/16: Dear Cypress Book Club: Thank you for today’s warm welcome, tasty lunch, and lively, insightful discussion of Byrd, writing, law, and life. I want to adopt you all. Love, Kim.
2/8/16: My essay “Exactly What To Say” will appear in the April issue of The Sun.
1/30/16: Thanks to Creative Capital and the North Carolina Arts Council for an inspiring workshop, one that will keep unfolding and unfolding and unfolding.
12/26/15: Byrd gets to share a table with Mary Oliver and Adele, and is starstruck.
12/7/15: Thanks to Betsy Teter of Hub City Press for including Byrd on her 2015 favorite fiction list!
11/19/15: Beautiful evening. Thanks to Suzanne Lucey, Page 158 Books, the Town of Wake Forest, and the sky.
11/11/15: “This habit of reading, I make bold to tell you, is your pass to the greatest, the purest, and the most perfect pleasure that God has prepared for His creatures. It lasts when all other pleasures fade. It will support you when all other recreations are gone. It will last until your death. It will make your hours pleasant to you as long as you live.” – Anthony Trollope
Thanks to Allyson Wieland of the Triangle Presbyterian Church Book Club for this quote and for moderating last night’s discussion of Byrd. Thanks to Donna Rudolph for organizing the event, to Donna Frank for taking care of me, and to everyone who came and taught me new things about my own work.
10/23/15: We love our Arts Council! — an evening with North Carolina poet laureate Shelby Stephenson and fellow N.C. Arts Council fellowship winners Lee Zacharias, Drew Perry, Julie Funderburk, Tita Ramirez, Laura DeBar, and Sally Vacca, and out front, our benefactor, David Potorti, NCAC’s Literature and Theater Director. Thanks to Scuppernong Books for hosting us, to Arts Greensboro for feeding us chocolate pie, to everyone celebrating inside and outside the store, and most of all, to NCAC for its generous support.
9/24/15: Thanks to Carol Sasser and the Friends of the Stanly County Library for last night’s wonderful dinner and welcome. Favorite moment: after reading “The Infant Survivor” I apologized for my cough and explained that my asthma has been flaring up. A woman raised her hand and asked, “Have you tried an air purifier?”
9/19/15: Thanks to SIBA and the North Carolina Writers Network for hosting Indiependents Day, where I was honored to share a panel with Jamie Fiocco, owner of Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill. The theme of the day: buy indie, sell indie, read indie, and writers, please don’t use the A word in indie stores!
9/14/15: Readings on Roslyn! Thanks to Kathryn Milam for creating this amazing literary salon, and thanks to all who came and brought food and listened intently and laughed at the right places and asked good questions and bought books and overwhelmed me with kindness. And thanks to Woodie Guthrie for the late-night visit.
8/14/15: The North Carolina Arts Council has announced its fellowship grants for 2015-16. I’m thrilled and lucky to be getting one, and honored to be sharing company with Abigail DeWitt, Lee Zacharias, Wiley Cash, Julie Funderburk, Sheila Boneham, Drew Perry, Anna Lena Phillips Bell, Tita Ramirez, and David Joy. Congratulations to all, and thanks to the Arts Council for its steadfast support of literature.
8/10/15: Byrd goes to summer camp at Chautauqua. Thanks to John Pellegrino for the picture.
7/15/15: I love librarians, and can’t think of a finer honor than to be guest speaker at the annual conference of the Triangle Research Libraries Network. Thanks to all of you for your good work. You are my heroes.
6/12/15: Sweet surprise — Byrd earrings by the exquisitely talented Zulay Smith!
5/31/15: New York Times Sunday Book Review!
5/3/15: Sweet Sunday-afternoon news: Byrd has won the IPPY Bronze Award for literary fiction! Congratulations to all the winners, giant thanks to Dzanc Books, and here’s to independent publishers — as my friend Jenny says, “small but fierce”!
4/30/15: Methodist week: I was honored to be the guest author at both the Edenton Street United Methodist Church Book Study Group and the Millbrook UMC Book Club. Such rich, provocative, inspiring discussions — thanks to organizers Fran Preston, Molly Beck, and all who came.
4/17/15: Byrd is a Chautauqua Prize finalist! The Chautauqua Prize is a national prize that “draws upon Chautauqua Institution’s considerable literary legacy to celebrate a book that provides a richly rewarding reading experience and to honor the author for a significant contribution to the literary arts.” Here’s the full list of finalists:
The Map Thief, by Michael Blanding (Gotham/Avery)
Byrd, by Kim Church (Dzanc Books)
The Bully of Order, by Brian Hart (HarperCollins)
Euphoria, by Lily King (Grove Atlantic/Atlantic Monthly)
Redeployment, by Phil Klay (The Penguin Press)
All Eyes Are Upon Us, by Jason Sokol (Basic Books)
The Scatter Here is Too Great, by Bilal Tanweer (Harper)
The Witch, by Jean Thompson (Blue Rider Press)
4/16/15: Thanks to Karen Thorsen and the women of the Woods of Kildaire Book Club for inviting me to sit in with them this week. What fun, and what a brilliant discussion of feminism and choice through the ages.
4/9/15: Dear Amazon, My debut novel BYRD just got its 50th customer review! In case you want to send me cookies, my favorite are oatmeal raisin. Seriously, thanks for keeping the book in supply. Please keep selling the heck out of it. And if there’s anything I can do to help, please let me know. Sincerely, Kim Church
Hello Kim, I’m glad to hear that your book BYRD got its 50th review; also won an award and listed for many. I’ve checked the book details and see that there are no 1 star or 2 star reviews and 70% of the customer reviews are 5 stars, it is really amazing. I couldn’t send your favorite oatmeal raisin from here; however, wish that you receive lots of supply of it. Rest assured, your book is in stock and we are getting more of it. We’ll keep selling it! Best regards, G. Ghouse
3/21/15: “The second annual Rowan Reading Rendezvous was a bestseller.” Deirdre Parker Smith, Salisbury Post. A beautiful first Saturday in spring in a beautiful library full of writers and readers.
3/13/15: Strong coffee and spirited discussion with the Reading Rebels Book Club of North Regional Library in Raleigh. Thanks to Fran Haislip & co. for the warm reception, and thanks to Wake County Public Libraries for selecting Byrd for the new Book Club Kit service.
3/10/15: Duke Libraries Book Club 2015 Author of the Year! What an honor, what a joy, what a spread! I love librarians.
3/1/15: March roars in with good news — the SIBA Long List! Byrd is perched there, among many friends. Congratulations to all the nominees.
2/21/15: Ice storm be damned! In two sold-out performances, the Murphey School Radio Show (“Triangle Wit, Lit and Music”) raised over $14,000 for Mental Health America of the Triangle and Just Right Academy. Lots more pictures here.
2/17/15: Byrd has been long-listed for the Chautauqua Prize! Here’s a beautiful introduction to Chautauqua by Minnow Media:
2/9/15: Honored to present Byrd to the Global South Working Group of UNC. Thanks for the gracious welcome and heady conversation. Y’all keep me on my game.
2/8/15: Thanks to Renee Riggsbee and the warm, welcoming, wise, wonderful women of Sunday Night Escape for tonight’s fabulous discussion. And food, did I mention food? Much tastier and more filling than the Grammys. (Though I AM glad I made it home in time for Rihanna.)
1/30/15: Lively discussion of Byrd at Wonderland Book Club. Thanks to hosts Alice Osborn, the North Carolina Writers Network, the Center for Excellence, and all who came.
1/25/15: Bookmarks Movable Feast, or literary speed-dating — 21 authors, 200 readers, each author talking for 10 minutes at each of 10 tables. Go!
1/22/15: Thanks to As the Page Turns for a filling-in-every-way lunch. I love it that our grandmothers all watched the same story, that they all pronounced “story” the same way, and that we all grew up having to sit still and be quiet for the same half-hour every weekday.
1/13/15: Cold night, warm welcome: Greenlight Bookstore, Brooklyn.
1/7/15: “The big regional success of 2014 was Raleigh novelist Kim Church’s Byrd (Dzanc Books), a Southern coming-of-age novel set in the ’70s and the present.” –The Year in Books, IndyWeek
1/5/15: Crook’s Corner Book Prize!
12/31/14: A last-day-of-2014 surprise to end a year of happy surprises: a new review by Cos Barnes in OutreachNC — “Byrd is entrancing, brilliant and gratifying.”
12/29/14: More good news to round out the year: Byrd was one of the top ten bestsellers at Quail Ridge Books & Music in 2014! I love living in a community that supports independent bookstores and local authors. Here’s the full list:
A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power by Jimmy Carter
Growing up with Raleigh by Smedes York in conversation with John Sharpe
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
Byrd by Kim Church
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good by Jan Karon
Designated Daughters by Margaret Maron
The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
The Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It by John Dean
12/25/14: Thanks to Kalen Landow for including Byrd in her Favorite Books, 2014 Edition, alongside books by Elizabeth McCracken and Dylan Landis. Thrilled!
12/21/14: Thanks to Dannye Powell, Books Editor at the Charlotte Observer and Raleigh News & Observer, for naming Byrd one of her Favorite Reads of 2014, along with books by Marilynne Robinson, Ron Rash, and other luminaries. A most humbling Christmas gift.
12/11/14: Thanks to Wake County Public Libraries for choosing Byrd as one of the Best New Books of 2014! Honored to hang out here with friends Krista Bremer (My Accidental Jihad) and Michael Parker (All I Have in This World), whose books I exuberantly recommend.
12/5/14: Thanks to the bloggers who’ve included Byrd on year-end lists — CaribousMom and Hungry for Good Books (“It’s a wonder!”). Thanks to Michelle Cronquist for her glowing review in North Carolina Libraries. And thanks to Kat of Kat ‘n’ Dog for her kind words and for trying to get her dog Darcy to pose with Byrd even though everyone knows dogs can’t turn pages.
11/28/14: Byrd made the Final Four! — the shortlist for the Crook’s Corner Book Prize. My friend Jacinda Townsend (Saint Monkey) and I have promised to share the wine if either of us wins.
11/23/14: Dear book clubs that hosted me this week: Thank you. There’s nothing more gratifying to a writer than hearing her work read aloud, talked about, and appreciated by smart, sensitive, perceptive readers. And their dogs.
11/13/14: Jack Riggs and I got a warm hometown welcome at the Friends of the Lexington Library annual meeting — a room full of friends and family and four kinds of pound cake.
11/12/14: Blimey! Byrd‘s gotten its first review in England: “Publishers here there and everywhere should be fighting to get their mitts on this and publishing it all over the shop.” Thanks to Simon Savidge of Savidge Reads, and congratulations on the UK Blog Award longlist!
11/9/14: Beautiful day, beautiful campus, beautiful event — Bread and Words. Thanks to Salem College, the Center for Women Writers, Metta Sáma, Sheryl Monks, Dean Susan Calovini, Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC, and everyone who shared their food and words to help the hungry.
Dean Calovini surprised us with a recitation of Keats’s ode “To Autumn,” the most-anthologized poem in the English language (who knew? Shakespeare is aghast):
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.
Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,-
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
11/6/14: Wine, Cheese, and Sometimes Books. Tonight, all three.
10/27/14: Anna Schwartz has released her author documentary, “A Day with Kim Church.” Anna is an amazing young filmmaker and a joy to know.
10/25/14: A bright fall day at McIntyre’s in Fearrington Village, where I got to hear Michael Chitwood read from his latest poetry collection, “Living Wages.”
10/23/14: An A-1 evening at Louisburg College.
10/21/14: Oh, the graciousness of the South. I was the honored guest at this month’s meeting of the Cosmos Club, whose 1929 handbook states that the object of the club is “the orderly systematic study of Literature, the Arts and Sciences for the pleasure and literary culture of the members.” The eldest and (by the club’s account) best-dressed member is 96. The women are friends of all ages who take care of each other. One has a “hideous gold recliner” she passes around to anyone who needs to sit up after surgery.
The meal and conversation were sumptuous. Sue Robertson said grace, opening with this “Prayer of an Aging Woman,” attributed to a seventeenth-century nun:
Lord, you know better than I know myself that I am growing older and will someday be old. Keep me from being talkative and particularly from the fatal habit of thinking that I must say something on every subject and on every occasion. Release me from craving to straighten out everybody’s affairs. Make me thoughtful but not moody, helpful but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity not to use it all, but you know, Lord, that I want a few friends at the end. Keep my mind from the recital of endless details—give me wings to come to the point. I ask for grace enough to listen to the tales of others’ pain. But seal my lips on my own aches and pains—they are increasing, and my love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by. Help me to endure them with patience. I dare not ask for improved memory but for a growing humility and a lessening cocksureness when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally it is possible that I may be mistaken. Keep me reasonably sweet. I do not want to be a saint—some of them are so hard to live with—but a sour old woman is one of the crowning works of the devil. Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places, and talents in unexpected people. And give me, O Lord, the grace to tell them so.
10/12-13/14: Notes from the road. In Nashville for the Southern Festival of Books. Sunday morning I head into town early, get a cup of coffee and find a bench where I can sit and collect my thoughts for my panel. A man walks up and tries to put a dime in my coffee cup.
In Charlotte on Monday for Bibliofeast. I’m leaving my hotel room for the event, all snazzed up in my red dress. Out in the hallway the housekeeper, a good-looking guy, perks up. “Wow, nice dress,” he says. “Thanks,” I say. “Do I look like a lit star?” “Oh no,” he says, “don’t worry.”
9/23/14: I got baked in a pye. Thanks to Virginia Pye, author of the gorgeous, ghosty River of Dust.
9/17-18/14: Byrd celebrated its six-month birthday in Ann Arbor with its publisher, Dzanc Books.
9/1/14: At the Decatur Book Festival I shared a panel with two crackly-smart women: novelist Margaret Thornton (Charleston) and our moderator, journalist Georgia Lee. Margaret is saying something brilliant about feminism in the New South.
8/28/14: One of those sweet end-of-summer nights in Wilson. Thanks to Elizabeth Dunn, the Friends of the Wilson County Public Library, and everyone who came and listened and asked questions and told me their own stories.
8/25/14: Woodstock for readers: Booktopia Asheville 2014! Thanks to Ann Kingman, Michael Kindness, Caitlin Hamilton Summie, Krista Bremer, Wiley Cash, E. Lockhart, Ariel Lawhon, Anthony Marra, Denise Kiernan, everyone at Malaprop’s Bookstore, and all the readers who put down their books long enough to come out and celebrate.
8/8/14: Happy day-after-my-birthday: Byrd made the longlist for the Crook’s Corner Prize, an annual award for a debut novel set in the American South. Wiley Cash won the inaugural award last year for A Land More Kind Than Home.
Here’s the full list:
Queen Sugar, by Natalie Baszile / Viking
Byrd, by Kim Church / Dzanc Books
The Resurrectionist, by Matthew Guinn / W.W. Norton
Flying Shoes, by Lisa Howorth / Bloomsbury USA
Remember Me Like This, by Bret Anthony Johnston / Random House
I Shall Be Near to You, by Erin Lindsay McCabe / Crown
Heart of Palm, by Laura Lee Smith / Grove Press
In the Garden of Stone, by Susan Tekulve / Hub City Press
Saint Monkey, by Jacinda Townsend / W.W. Norton
The Ways of the Dead, by Neely Tucker / Viking
Congratulations to all!
7/13/14: Humanities Tennessee has announced the author lineup for its 2014 Southern Festival of Books — yee-ha!
7/2/14: Radio on TV! My conversation with Frank Stasio on “The State of Things,” WUNC 91.5 FM, was screened before a live audience at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and livestreamed online. My segment followed a conversation with three scientists researching the microscopic arthropods that live on all our faces (who knew?). They took a tiny sample of Frank Stasio’s face and put it on a slide under a microscope and showed the face mite — it looked like a many-headed worm erupting from a cocoon. When it appeared onscreen, everyone in the museum theater — all scientists except me — burst into wild applause.
6/25/14: Byrd has been longlisted for the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize! Thanks to the Center for Fiction, and congratulations to all the debut novelists on the list.
6/20/14: Byrd is a Consortium library bestseller! Thanks to all the libraries that have added the book to their collections.
6/14/14: See you on the radio! On “Who’s Talking,” WCHL 97.9 FM, D.G. Martin and I talk about the story of Byrd and how law and writing go together. And on Little Raleigh Radio, Ben McNeely and I talk about writing on “This Is Raleigh,” with music by Megafaun, and Raymond Carver reading his poem, “Photograph of My Father in His Twenty-Second Year.”
6/14/14: Scuppernong! Bonnie ZoBell and I teamed up for a reading at Greensboro’s cool new indie bookstore. Thanks to Kevin Watson of Press 53 for introducing us and moderating the q & a. And thanks to old friends (including one I used to babysit) for making my day.
6/13/14: Friday the 13th, full moon: a propitious time to introduce Bonnie ZoBell at So & So Books, the new bookstore in Mordecai. Such a fun party all of my pictures came out blurry.
6/10/14: Flyleaf, with all my heroes, and an introduction by Jeremy Hawkins, author of The Last Days of Video (Soft Skull Press).
5/27/14: File under “things I love about my hometown”: Davidson Funeral Home in Lexington hires a woman one day a week to clip Dispatch articles about people from town, laminate the articles and mail them to the subjects for their scrapbooks.
Launch, Quail Ridge Books & Music, March 27, 2014 | video by Deby Thompson
Introduction by Angela Davis-Gardner:
Reading at NC Writers Network Spring Conference, Greensboro, April 12, 2014
5/10/14: You can go home again. Thanks to my family and friends in Lexington. Special thanks to my little sister, Marty Hargrave, for the introduction and the roses and the planning and publicity. It was a keepsake of a day.
5/3/14: The best part of book-touring: old friends.
4/30/14: Malaprop’s in Asheville, where men like to raise their hands.
4/28/14: The Regulator, Durham’s legendary independent bookstore. Thanks to Bill Verner for a righteous introduction.
4/27/14: More kind feedback from the N.C. Lit Festival. Thanks, Cassie!
4/20/14: An excerpt from Byrd, “Queen of Mind Beauty,” is in today’s Printers Row Journal, the fiction supplement to the Chicago Tribune.
4/10/14: Beautiful day for a reading at the Country Bookshop in Southern Pines.
3/27/14: Launch! at Quail Ridge Books & Music, Raleigh. Thanks to manager Sarah Goddin for choosing Byrd as a staff pick. Thanks to the staff, who taught me how to do a reading. And thanks to everyone who came and cheered me on.
3/20/14: Charlottesville: first day of spring, first book, first panel.
3/1/14: AWP: Dzanc sold out of Byrd!
2/23/14: Jubilation! Byrd‘s first review came out this week, in BookPage: “unforgettable and gripping.”
2/14/14: Registration is now open for the N.C. Writers Network Spring Conference, a full day of workshops on the UNC-Greensboro campus. I’ll be leading a fiction workshop — put your writing boots on!
1/23/14: The N.C. Literary Festival has unveiled its roster, and I’m thrilled to be on it. Headliners this year include Richard Ford, Junot Díaz, Margaret Wrinkle, James McBride, and Ben Fountain. Full schedule coming in March.
1/10/14: The Virginia Festival of the Book has announced its schedule, and I’m honored to share a panel with Susan Tekulve (In the Garden of Stone) and John Milliken Thompson (Love and Lament).
12/27/13: Not yet 2014, and already Byrd, due out in March, is on a list! — along with new books by Anthony Doerr, Francine Prose, Kyle Minor, Larry McMurtry, Ellen Gilchrist, Adam Begley, and others. Humbled. Delighted. Quivering.