If you’ve never been to Asheville, North Carolina, you should go! It’s a beautiful mountain town with excellent restaurants, an art and music scene, and all kinds of hiking nearby (if you want a glimpse into the area’s artistic significance, check out my friend Cathryn Davis Zommer’s Fully Awake, a fascinating documentary about the seminal Black Mountain College). Some people call Asheville the San Francisco of North Carolina. If you get married there and invite me I will totally come to your wedding.
Malaprop’s is an excellent bookstore right in the center of town. It’s been in business since 1982 and has a thriving author series (Aimee Bender reads there tomorrow!). From their website, here’s what founder and owner Emoke B’Racz says about the store’s philosophy and goals: “I wanted Malaprop’s to be a place where poetry matters, where women’s words are as important as men’s, where one is surprised by excellence, where good writing has a home, where I could nurture my addiction to literature, and play, enjoy, and entertain people drawn to quality books.”
I read there on a Tuesday evening, just before a book club meeting, and really enjoyed talking to a small gathering of readers (a couple of people already had Mattaponi Queen in hand). I read the beginning of “It Won’t Be Long,” talked about writing and research, and gave out some preserves, of course. And I was delighted to meet Lauren, event coordinator and former Graywolf staffer!
It’s been so much fun to visit the different independent bookstores and see the way they’re arranged. I like the way Malaprop’s has so many categories throughout the store, like regional fiction—it makes browsing easier—and that they have places where you can sit down with the books you’re considering. I also love that book clubs meet in their café. I’ve talked to a few people lately who’ve complained about their book clubs’ time on task—people want to drink wine and talk about their kids. I bet holding your meetings in a book store would help.
The next day, I got to go hiking with my friends Jen and Josie. Here I am in the hotel with Josie, who got a lot of compliments in Asheville:
I like a town that appreciates dogs.