Through the Depression, World War II, McCarthyism, and other 20th-century milestones, Daphne Athas experienced life in the legendary Southern college town of Chapel Hill. The town was conventional and idiosyncratic, both caught up in racial and class prejudice and ahead of its time. None of this liminal world, nor the effects on it of larger political and cultural forces,Through the Depression, World War II, McCarthyism, and other 20th-century milestones, Daphne Athas experienced life in the legendary Southern college town of Chapel Hill. The town was conventional and idiosyncratic, both caught up in racial and class prejudice and ahead of its time. None of this liminal world, nor the effects on it of larger political and cultural forces, escapes Athas's keen writer's eye. Her personal life is woven through these essays. She writes of her friendships, her youthful adventures, her political revelations, her development as a writer. She retraces her early years in North Carolina, where she was considered an oddity. Hailing from a once-rich family that relocated from Brahmin Boston to a poor neighborhood on the edge of Chapel Hill after losing its fortune in the Depression, she was smart, sophisticated, well educated, and poor. That perspective from the other side of town sharpened her powers of observation, making her work penetrating and full of a sense of discovery. Athas writes about her friendships and experiences with many well-known writers, among them Richard Wright, Paul Green, Betty Smith, and Max Steele. She tells of the political persecutions of Ab Abernathy (Chapel Hill bookseller) and Junius Scales (the scion of a wealthy family) during the McCarthy era. She reveals the true stories behind Chapel Hill's haunted Gimghoul Castle and the murder of a 72-year-old coed. Her essays bring back to life a town making its way through a radically changing world....
|Title||:||Chapel Hill in Plain Sight: Notes from the Other Side of the Tracks|
|Number of Pages||:||243 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Chapel Hill in Plain Sight: Notes from the Other Side of the Tracks Reviews
Lovely, eye-opening collection of stories through Athas' eyes, that made me feel familiar and estranged about my home. She writes with an honest, humorous voice that brings people and things alive in ways I haven't experienced before. I love her writing and she has made me fall in love with Chapel Hill all over again. As someone who lived in Carrboro in the early beginnings of my life, and have been raised in Chapel Hill for my remaining childhood years, this book shows me more about the places I grew up: the history, secrets, and famous people in the time of this town's transition to prominence.
My daughter Becky has lately been turning her skills as a geographer to local geography and makes a good case that her professional peers should give local geography its due. She and my daughter Kate (and their families) ganged up this Christmas to send me books about Chapel Hill and Durham, trail and walk guides from Becky and the Athas book from Kate, prompted maybe by the possibility that I might return to the area, a thought that is almost overwhelming to me. At the same time, Athas' book made me want at least to renew acquaintance or to extend it.The Athas book is very local. If you have ever loved Chapel Hill, even if it is a lost love, you would enjoy this book. It is largely about Athas herself, a novelist and teacher of creative writing, but, almost against her will it seems, she lover of Chapel Hill and Carrboro. If you don't know the area, many of its references to streets will be meaningless. If you know it a little, you might hop to your Google Maps and remind yourself. I was fascinated with Athas' loving description of the new bike path linking Chapel Hill and Carrboro--since my time there.In another way the book is not local. Much of its emphasis is on the successful, or at least radical, literary people in, from, or visiting Chapel Hill, not least on Ab Abernathy, the originator of the Intimate Bookshop. Some portions are hardly more than lists; other include anecdotes of her personal interactions with them, particularly Betty Smith, the author of a long-ago best seller, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and Max Steele, whose collection of short stories, Where She Brushed Her Hair I read long ago when I lived in Chapel Hill. (At one time, she says, Steele wrote a story a week and published in a number of national magazines. One a week?) Her discussions of writers, Playmakers, and important UNC professors, coupled with her discussion of struggles with Congressional Un-Americans and her personal disadvantages are non-local also because they give you a sense of the times and the changes time has brought, not just in bike paths (although she DOES love a metaphor) but in the ways people think and act.