Category Archives: Caldwell, Wayne

Brian Lee Knopp. Naked Came the Leaf Peeper. Asheville, NC: Burning Bush Press of Asheville, 2011.

What happens when you mix twelve of western North Carolina’s most adept storytellers with one impossible plot? The answer is Naked Came the Leaf Peeper, a merry and mysterious game of literary tag among the likes of Vicki Lane, John P. McAfee, Tony Earley, and Alan Gratz. Brian Lee Knopp, the mastermind behind this zany novel, begins the plot: high on an overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway, a man falls to his death…helped by a young assassin armed with a potato gun. Improbable? Absurd? The fun is only just beginning.

Garnell Lee Ray, assassin-for-hire, is out to avenge her mother and father, murdered for their land by greedy developers and their compatriots. She has knocked off three of the four with her simple, yet effective style: the use of gravity. A man overbalances on an overlook, helped along by a stray potato. Another is crushed by a conveniently placed tree. Gunning down the first was a mistake, but not one that the savvy Garnell will make again. Now the only one left is rapacious State Senator Andy Micheaux…and Garnell is coming for him. Unfortunately, someone gets to Garnell first, and she is highly annoyed to find herself passing out from a gunshot wound at her campsite in Linville Falls. She survives, but getting shot raises questions, even in the Appalachians. Relocated Yankee detective J.D. Kontz has a lot of questions for the attractive Miss Ray, but she escapes from the hospital before providing any real answers. Still, Detective Kontz begins to piece together Garnell’s tale, despite the clumsy ministrations of his dim-witted deputy, Marshall Harris. In fact, if he didn’t know better, Kontz would suspect the Fife-like deputy to be purposely misleading him.

Buckle up as this story weaves through the switchbacks at breakneck speed in a plot including (but not limited to): llamas, Baptists, golf, the Blue Ridge Parkway, moonshine, first love, runaway wives, pigs, tourists, heathen Yankees, beagles, ladies selling Mary Kay, gun-toting grannies, the SBI, ravens, backstabbing relations, secret agents of all different kinds, camping, and folk tunes. So grab some biscuits and red-eye, y’all, and gather round for the tallest tale ever told!

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

This is our 1000th post. We’ll be celebrating and hope that you will too.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Avery, Barrett, Linda Marie, Buncombe, Caldwell, Wayne, Chappell, Fred, Cheek, Gene, Clapsaddle, Annette Saunooke, Earley, Tony, Gratz, Alan, Hays, Tommy, Knopp, Brian Lee, Lane, Vicki, Madison, McAfee, John P., Mitchell, Mountains, Mystery, Reinhardt, Susan, Romance/Relationship, Suspense/Thriller

Wayne Caldwell. Requiem by Fire. New York: Random House, 2010.

The Blue Ridge Parkway, “America’s Favorite Drive,” celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. The National Parkway was established as a New Deal program to create jobs and to promote tourism in a region that was foreign to many Americans. Today, the picturesque landscape and enlightening roadside markers provide visitors with a glimpse of the beauty and culture of Appalachia.

Although the picture of the Parkway is pleasing today, its design and formation created tension and pain in the mountain communities it winds through. As Wayne Caldwell shows in Requiem by Fire,  families were stripped of their homes, livelihoods, and even relationships with one another.

When the North Carolina Park Commission comes to Cataloochee to discuss buyouts, community members learn they have two unhappy options. They can sell their farms now at a loss and leave, or sell at an even greater loss but continue to lease the land from the government. With regulations such as what natural resources they can harvest and even what burial techniques they can use, many people feel compelled to leave and try to start anew. However, other families decide to stay at they only homes they have ever known. This is difficult, though, because their villages shrink and social networks dwindle. No matter the choice made by the natives of Cataloochee in the late 1920s, “home” is forever changed.  Highlighting the strong connection to place felt by the people affected by the Blue Ridge Parkway, Caldwell provides a different view of the beloved roadway.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Buncombe, Caldwell, Wayne, Haywood, Historical, Mountains