BRISTOL, VA/TN -- The Bristol Public Library Community Read committee has chosen Lee Smith's Fair and Tender Ladies for the community to discuss and read together in 2010.
Fair & Tender Ladies is considered Smith's most beloved book. The indomitable heroine is Ivy Rowe, a tenacious mountain woman who remains cussedly dedicated to the ideal of perseverance, despite the many formidable obstacles she faces. It is considered by many to be Smith's most fully realized and artistically successful work.
Copies of the book are available for check-out or may be purchased for $15 in the library gift shop.
Bristol's Community Read is a community-led program and is not affiliated with the National Endowment for the Arts "Big Read" program. Co-chairing the Community Read committee are Dale Brown, Director of King College's Buechner Institute and an English professor, and Gloria Oster, Director of Teacher Education at King College and former high school English teacher at Sullivan South High School.
Oster says, "We believe that having a shared reading project will benefit our community in many ways. And Lee Smith is a very prominent Appalachian writer."
The program includes the following arts-related events:
• April 1-30: Kicking things off will be an exhibit of work by the Holston Quilters Association in the library's Virgie R. Fleenor Art Gallery. Each of Lee Smith's books has a connection to quilts, including Fair and Tender Ladies.
The following events will be held in the J. Henry Kegley Meeting Room at the library:
• April 11, 2:30 p.m. Bristol's Community Read discussion of Lee Smith'sFair and Tender Ladies.
• April 13, 7 p.m. Screening of an hour-long Lee Smith documentary, first aired in 2002 on Kentucky Educational Television.
• April 14, 6:30 p.m. Library Foundation Fundraiser at K.P. Duty restaurant, downtown Bristol. $50 ticket includes dinner, drinks, Lee Smith presentation and book signing, and entertainment by actress Barbara Bates Smith.
• April 14, 7 p.m. Panel discussion by local educators on "Teaching Lee Smith." They will focus on the literature of Lee Smith and the controversy that came in 2007 when an Advanced Placement English class in Washington County, Va., was banned from reading Fair and Tender Ladies. [For Lee Smith's response, CLICK HERE.]
• April 17, 1:30-4 p.m. Lee Smith reading and book signing; plus B. Smith Does Lee Smith, a performance by Barbara Bates Smith highlighting stories from the author's most recent publication, Mrs. Darcy and the Blue-Eyed Stranger. [To read a book review, CLICK HERE.] Smith's collection of new and previously-published short stories features the warmhearted newspaper columnist of "Between the Lines," the feisty nursing home resident of "The Happy Memories Club," the teenager bent on salvation in "Tongues of Fire," plus a brash country singer and other characters excerpted from novels -- all with a flair for storytelling. Reserved seating $20; general admission free, if space is available. The actress has toured her one-woman show, Ivy Rowe, from Smith's Fair and Tender Ladies, for 20 years. Winner of the 2003 Southeastern Theatre Conference Best Actress award, Barbara has recently played featured roles in regional productions of Wit, Hamlet and Doubt. www.barbarabatessmith.com
-- Book Review: 'Mrs. Darcy and the Blue-Eyed Stranger'