Special Report to Blowing Rock News from University News Service. By Jane Nicholson. July 17, 2014. BOONE, NC — Although many know Frances Mayes from the international bestselling memoir and subsequent film “Under the Tuscan Sun” set in Italy, Mayes is first a Southerner.
Currently splitting her time between homes in Italy and North Carolina, Mayes will visit the High Country as the Carol Grotnes Belk Distinguished Lecturer July 24 at Appalachian State University. The lecture is sponsored by University Libraries and also is part of An Appalachian Summer Festival.
Mayes will read from and sign copies of her latest work, “Under Magnolia: A uSouthern Memoir,” beginning at 3:30 p.m. in Plemmons Student Union’s Parkway Ballroom. A reception and book signing will follow. The public is welcome to attend. For more information, visit http://appsummer.org/schedule/id/671.
“Under Magnolia” is a coming-of-age memoir set in Georgia. It begins and ends in the present, with the middle of the book delving into small town life in the South. The memoir is described as a lyrical recollection of her childhood that uses pitch-perfect, sensory language.
According to USA Today, “She tells of growing up (in the 1940s and ’50s) with hard-drinking parents who were devastatingly attractive, dysfunctional (at about the same level as most Southern parents who become the stuff of memoirs), and stuck in time and culture. Unpredictable and sometimes explosive, her parents seemed willing to let their acutely observant, headstrong daughter mature in her own ways, as long as she caused no public embarrassment.”
In addition to her popular Tuscan memoirs, Mayes is a widely published poet and essayist. She has written numerous books of poetry, including “Sunday in Another Country,” “After Such Pleasures” and “The Arts of Fire.” Her text“The Discovery of Poetry: A Field Guide to Reading and Writing Poems” is widely used in college poetry classes.
Formerly a professor of creative writing at San Francisco State University, where she directed The Poetry Center and chaired the Department of Creative Writing, Mayes now devotes herself full time to writing.
About the Belk Distinguished Lecture Series
Frances Mayes’ lecture is 15th in the Carol Grotnes Belk Distinguished Lecture series. Irwin and the late Carol Belk of Charlotte have provided funding for the series through the Belk Library and Information Commons Carol Grotnes Belk Distinguished Professorship. Previous speakers in the series include regional writers Ron Rash and Sharyn McCrumb, children’s author Gloria Houston, Guggenheim Fellow Randall Kenan and North Carolina Poet Laureate Joseph Bathanti.