The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Opinion & Letters to the Editor

February 1, 2013

The whole country looks at three North Carolina connected authors

Friday, February 1, 2013 — Three recent books with North Carolina connections have gained national recognition. You should certainly know about them.

Tim Gautreaux is widely admired in our state’s literary community. For in-stance, popular Hillsbor-ough author Lee Smith, writing about Gautreaux’s latest book, “The Missing,” said, “I have just finished, biting my nails and staying up almost all night to do so – surely the best rip-roaring old fashioned truly American page-turner ever written! No way to say how much I admire that book. Got your attention?”

“The Missing,” like Smith’s “The Last Girls,” is set on a riverboat that travels along the Mississippi River.

But it is not the same kind of book.

Smith’s characters are contemporary middle-aged women on a luxury tourist ship remembering their college river rafting venture down the river.

Gautreaux’s tale, set in post World War I times, is dark and violent, featuring a kidnapped child and outlaw families living on swampy, nearly deserted lands near the river.

Gautreaux grew up in Louisiana’s Cajun country and has spent most of his life writing about his home state and teaching there.

So what is his North Carolina connection? His wife grew up in Raeford, and since Hurricane Katrina they have divided their time between Louisiana and a home in Ashe County.

Three North Carolina-connected books made the New York Times “100 Notable Books-2012” list. The only non-fiction sports-related book on the list is “American Triumvirate Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan and the Modern Age of Golf.” Its author, James Dodson, is the editor of “O. Henry” and “PineStraw” magazines and is an award-winning writer-in-residence at The Pilot in Southern Pines.

Snead, Nelson and Hogan dominated professional golf in the years surrounding World War II. Ironically, all were born in 1912, and their stories, as told by Dodson, are intertwined and poignant.

Dodson says these three are responsible for the popular professional golf game that we know today.

One of North Carolina’s most successful and admired business leaders grew up in unbelievably oppressive circumstances in China during the Cultural Revolution. Starved, beaten, denied basic education, she survived and has prevailed. She tells this story of her challenging pathway to success in this country in her new book, “Bend, Not Break: A Life in Two Worlds.”

The book’s title comes from advice from Ping Fu’s “Shanghai Papa,” who told her, “Bamboo is flexible, bending with the wind but never breaking, capable of adapting to any circumstance. It suggests resil-ience, meaning that we have the ability to bounce back even from the most difficult times … Your ability to thrive depends, in the end, on your attitude to your life circumstances. Take everything in stride with grace, putting forth energy when it is needed, yet always staying calm inwardly.”

Ping Fu is the founder and CEO of Morrisville-based Geomagic. It develops 3D software that makes possible the exact duplication of 3D objects using small machines called 3D printers. In 2005, Inc. Magazine named her Entrepreneur of the Year.  A few weeks ago, Geomagic was acquired by one of its customers.

As “Bend, Not Break” moves on to the national bestseller lists, it will inspire readers and draw scrutiny from some skeptics who may find Ping Fu’s journey too amazing to be real.

Finally, are you wondering what other North Carolina connected books made the New York Times Notable Books list? They are Ben Fountain’s   “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” set in Texas Stadium in Dallas, with a halftime performance by Beyonce, just in time for Super Bowl reading and Wiley Cash’s “A Land More Kind than Home,” set in Madison County.

 

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