04 October 2011

Out and about: Sharyn McCrumb at McIntyre's Books in Pittsboro, NC

Okay, I admit that not much of this post has much to do with Southside Virginia. No, Sharyn McCrumb is not a native daughter, and the hanging of Tom Dooley (or Tom Dula) did not occur in our neck of the woods - or state. Still, McCrumb is too good and her latest novel, The Ballad of Tom Dooley (2011), is too fascinating to not at least try to claim her. Virginia may be vastly different from region to region, but it is still worthwhile to celebrate the gems.

Photo from the Wilkes Journal-Patriot
In 2008, McCrumb was named one of eight Virginia Women in History for her depiction of the "richness and variety of Appalachian culture." She has won numerous awards from Virginia organizations and beyond and has seen her novels make the bestseller list multiple times. McCrumb teaches in universities and workshops, and her books are used in classes worldwide.

And no, she's not from Southside Virginia - but she is from the Roanoke area (close enough!).

Photo from Amazon
I had the pleasure to hear her speak about The Ballad of Tom Dooley on Friday at Fearrington Village literary hub, McIntyre's Books. McCrumb was very engaging (if only professors and preachers were so interesting). She clearly values common sense, although I would not say that there is anything common about her. I would also be hard-pressed to say that just anyone would have been able to reach the conclusion that McCrumb did about the Dooley case. Based on her research, historians for the past 150 years have had the story all wrong ("The Kingston Trio's version is one talking raccoon short of a Disney movie." Did I mention she is also very funny?). Of course you'll have to read the book to find out her discovery (about... yes, something that happened in North Carolina).

Find The Ballad of Tom Dooley in the Charlotte County Library catalog.

Have you read The Ballad of Tom Dooley? Please share your opinion about the book and this summary.


Fortunately, Sharyn McCrumb has written books set in Southside Virginia (on Friday, she mentioned her friendship with local hero Ward Burton). Stay tuned for more!

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