It’s big all right. For one month, all Fayetteville bookworms live, breathe and read the same novel. In past years, the Cumberland County Public Library and Information Center has tackled books like “Their Eyes Were Watching God” and “The Maltese Falcon.” This year, we sink our teeth into the Southern classic “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” by Carson McCullers. Routinely named as one of the best literary works of our time, portions of it were written right here in Fayetteville.
By Skip Maloney If Carson McCullers had only stayed in Fayetteville, where she penned her first and what would become her best-known novel, she might have survived into her late 50s and beyond. Or so goes the theory. Here are the facts: in the late 1930s, McCullers wasn’t just an up and coming writer, she was also a young military wife. You see where this is going. While her husband, Reeves McCullers, served in the Army, Carson lived in the historic Cool Springs Tavern and worked on a book she called “The Mute.”And one wonders if those were simpler times. As it turned out, the success of the novel, later renamed “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter,” led to a move to New York City, and later, Paris, as McCullers’ private life reeled in and out of control. She and Reeves divorced then remarried. Carson struggled with depression, alcoholism and strokes which eventually took her life in September 1967 in Nyack, N.Y. Now, thanks to the efforts of the Cumberland County Public Library, McCullers is coming home. Beginning in late March, all seven public library branches, two university libraries, two military libraries, the Museum of the Cape Fear and Cool Springs Tavern will play host to more than 30 programs centered on the life and work of Carson McCullers. Here are the highlights: “The Member of the Wedding,” March 12-28. McCullers’ next-most famous work is performed at the Cape Fear Regional Theater. Big Read Kickoff, March 26. The Headquarters Library will give away copies of McCullers’ books and offer entertainment and refreshments. “Connecting to Carson McCullers,” March 27-May 30 at the Museum of the Cape Fear. Movie nights, April 5-22. Multiple screenings of “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter,” starring Alan Arkin, plus the famous Marlon Brando-Elizabeth Taylor flick, “Reflections in a Golden Eye,” and “The Member of the Wedding.” All library events are subject to change. Visit www.cumberland.lib.nc.us for details. Walking tour, April 18. Bruce Daws will lead a tour of downtown to talk about McCullers’ time in Fayetteville.
By Stephanie Brigman Carson McCullers may be one of the most famous authors Fayetteville claims, but she is far from the only one. Here are a few more notables:
Tim Tyson – Tyson’s passion for writing began at an early age. He moved to Fayetteville as a teenager in the 1970s. While he lived in Fayetteville, Tyson spent much of his time writing, reading at Edward McKay Books, and editing the editorial page for his high school newspaper. A few months before graduation, Tyson dropped out of Terry Sanford High School to pursue his passion for writing. He later earned his bachelor’s degree at Emory University and his doctorate at Duke University, where he is currently a professor. But he is best known for his book, “Blood Done Sign My Name,” based on his childhood memories of the 1970 murder of a black man in Tyson’s hometown of Oxford. Mike Wiley, a native North Carolinian, adapted “Blood Done Sign My Name” into a play running through Feb. 7 at the Temple Theatre in Sanford. The book makes its big-screen debut on Feb. 19, starring Rick Shroder. Tim McLaurin – He was known by many as Wild Man Mac, the spirited snake handler who was covered in tattoos. To others, McLaurin was a loving family man, Marine veteran, Peace Corps volunteer, UNC alumna, creative writing professor at North Carolina State University and cancer survivor. But to the world, he is best known for his writing. The Cumberland County native published eight books including “Cured by Fire,” winner of the Sir Walter Raleigh Award for fiction. His career was cut short when McLaurin lost his fight with cancer in July 2002, shortly before the completion of his final novel, “Another Son of Man.” Suzanne Farrior – As a child, Farrior once dreamed of illustrating children’s books. She later realized that dream and more. She taught art for more than 20 years in Cumberland County schools before retiring in 1999. In 2001, she published her first book, “Froggie Babies,” followed by “A Child’s World from My Point of View” and “The Hungry Little Bunny.” Two for the price of one. Methodist University can claim many talented writers, but two current professors continue to stand out: Michael Potts, whose poetry chapbook, “From Field to Thicket,” won the Mary Belle Campbell Poetry Book Award of the North Carolina Writers’ Network, and Robin Greene (right) whose works include “Memories of Light,” “Real Birth” and “Lateral Drift.” And let’s not leave out Fayetteville State University’s very own writer Charles Chesnutt who earned national acclaim for the novels and short stories he wrote at the end of the 19th century exploring complex issues of racial and society identity.
"It's Happening Right Here, Right Now!"
The audience is captivated by Joe Haymore’s thunderous voice and intense eyes as he reaches the poem’s closing lines. For more than 30 years, the Writer’s Ink Guild has provided free workshops to schools and libraries. And once a month, on second Thursday nights, members meet at Barnes & Noble bookstore. Open to professional writers and amateurs alike, the meetings usually include an open mic. Participants share their original poetry and prose plus any and all creative ideas. But the writing is not what makes the group unique rather it’s the writers themselves: active-duty soldiers, college professors, writers from abroad who recite pieces in their native tongue, and colorful characters such as disabled Vietnam War veteran Charles “The Hawk” Weyant. “What we want from local writers is for them to attend our critique meetings and participate,” says Haymore, the guild’s president. “You don’t have to be a big poet, a published poet, you don’t even have to be a good poet. You just have to be enthusiastic.” For information about the Writer’s Ink Guild’s meetings, workshops or the annual poetry contest, Fields of Earth, contact Joe Haymore at email@example.com or 919.499.6600.
The Best Books to Come - Check Out These Titles Soon to Hit the Shelves
And if you already have beach reads on the brain, here’s what’s ahead: Committed, Elizabeth Gilbert. A follow-up to the author’s hugely popular memoir Eat, Pray, Love. Noah’s Compass, Anne Tyler. The Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist draws upon her Southern roots growing up in Raleigh to fashion quirky, humorous and insightful tales. House Rules, Jodi Picoult. It’s sure to be another tearjerker from the perennial bestselling author. Ape House, Sara Gruen. The author’s first novel since Water for Elephants. The Hope You Need, Rick Warren. It might be hard for the writer and pastor to follow The Purpose Driven Life, the bestselling hardcover of all time. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, Stieg Larsson. The back story is just as intriguing as his novels: the author died in 2004, shortly after delivering the manuscripts for his Millennium series, thrillers that became international bestsellers. International, Michael Crichton. Two works were discovered after the author’s death in 2008. The first was published last year. The second is expected to be finished and released this fall. Freedom, Jonathan Franzen. The author’s fourth novel is tentatively scheduled for release this year, his first since 2001’s The Corrections. Solar, Ian McEwan. The latest novel by the Booker Prize-winning novelist. The Last Song, Nicholas Sparks. And what’s a year without a new release from the author of The Notebook and Message in a Bottle.
Spend Time with the Masters
Not one but two major art exhibits are coming to Fayetteville this winter. “Art of the Masters: A Survey of African American Images, 1980-2000” makes its only Southeastern stop at the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County. From there, it’s a hop, skip and jump to see more than 100 works from the famed Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali, Feb. 13-28 at Festival Park Plaza. This is the only Southern stop for “Salvador Dali Illustrates Dante’s Divine Comedy” as the traveling exhibit makes its way from Las Cruces Museum of Art in New Mexico. Art lovers have until March 6 to catch some of the country’s most acclaimed African and African-American art, but don’t miss what’s happening between now and then at the Arts Council, 301 Hay St. Feb. 13 Children’s program featuring a guest entertainer Feb. 16-17 President Bill Clinton asked him to help select the first piece of African-American art for the White House. Now hear David Driskell talk at Fayetteville State University on Feb. 16. The next day, catch him at the Arts Council for a book signing and lecture. Feb. 26 FSU’s jazz ensemble, concert choir and performing arts faculty perform “God’s Trombones” at the Arts Council. Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority will also present a Henry Ossawa Tanner piece on loan from a local collector.
But First, Make a Date with Dali
If Salvador Dali does indeed make you hot, “An Evening with Dali” on Feb. 12 is the perfect Valentine treat. It also offers dancing, music, fine wine, food and a sneak-peek preview of the exhibit. Contact the Fayetteville Museum of Art for information and tickets. The museum is also offering times to see the exhibit on the cheap. Those with military or college ID can see the show half-price on Feb. 16 and 23. If you can’t catch the show then, it is open seven days a week, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturdays and 1-4 p.m. Sundays. The cost is $10 for adults, $6 for children ages 6-18 and free for children under 5. Extended hours (and free wine and snacks) will be offered on Feb. 26 when the exhibit is open until 9 p.m.
Skydive Sitting Down
Talk about people watching. Spectators are welcome at Paraclete XP SkyVenture just outside of Raeford. The indoor wind tunnel is not a ride or flight simulator, visitors actually get the flying experience. But it’ll cost you, starting around $60 for first-timers. But to sit and watch? Totally free. Visit www.paracletexp.com for details.
For A Reason
Hardy souls plunge into the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean to raise money for the Special Olympics. This year’s Polar Bear Plunge is set for Feb. 20 in Nags Head. While there are other plunges, organizers call this the only “statewide” event in North Carolina. Visit www.ncpolarplunge.com for details.
If you can’t beat the cold, embrace it by taking in Fayetteville’s professional hockey team. Early reports had the team solidly out in front of the Southern Professional Hockey League, so catch the action before it wraps up in March. Visit www.fireantzhockey.com for details.
OK, Really Embrace It
Ski NC. Yes, we’re known to have winter days in the balmy 60s, but good skiing can be found within our bounds. One Web site lists them all. Visit www.skinorthcarolina.com for details.
Hunker Down with Some Comfort Food
Don’t get us started. OK, well now that you asked, we love, love, love the soup at Sherefe Mediterranean Grill. Owner and chef Mustafa Somar freezes yesterday’s soup of the day into single servings so stock up on Crab & Corn, Red Lentil or Potato Leek. Here’s a tip: sign up for email alerts by visiting them at www.sherefe.net. Soup in your Inbox, yum.
Head of the Class
Learn to sew, dance, speak Russian, reupholster furniture or cook Roman style at Fayetteville Technical Community College. A slew of continuing education classes is available all winter and spring. Our favorite? A course called What Women Want (financial education, it turns out). Visit www.faytechcc.edu for details.
Movie On A Monday
Go ahead, we won’t tell. There’s no beating a movie in the middle of the day. And it doesn’t get any cheaper than Omni Cinemas – two bucks gets you in the door before 6 p.m. Winter means Oscar season, so catch some of the year’s best films, cheap. Visit www.omnicinemas.com for details.
Go Ahead, Escape
It’s cheaper than ever to fly out of the cozy Fayetteville airport. Fayetteville Regional Airport is serviced by two main airlines: US Airways Express, with daily service to its Charlotte hub and ASA, the Delta Connection, with daily service to its Atlanta hub. From there, the world is your oyster.*
Want more flights from FAY? The airport and the BRAC Regional Task Force are working to expand airline services available to local travelers. Fill out the online survey at www.flyfay.ci.fayetteville.nc.us *Don’t forget: Travelers now need a passport for travel to any destination outside of the United States, including the Caribbean. Sample roundtrip rates are provided by Janice Burkett of Maupin Travel and the Fayetteville Airport Board of Commissioners.