Cover image for Dimestore
Smith, Lee, 1944- , author.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Chapel Hill, North Carolina : Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2016.
Physical Description:
xix, 202 pages : illustration ; 22 cm
A "book about Smith's process and her life, first as a Southern mountain child and, later, as the parent of a schizophrenic child...Despite being surrounded by loving family and being blessed with an active imagination, Lee copes with a mentally ill mother. Later, her son's mental illness and early death brings her to the breaking point but she is saved by her writing"--Lois Gross for LibraryReads."--NoveList.
Preface: Raised to leave: some thoughts on "culture" -- Dimestore -- Recipe box -- Kindly nervous -- Lady lessons -- Marble cake and moonshine -- Big river -- On Lou's porch -- Lightning storm -- Driving Miss Daisy crazy, or, Losing the mind of the South -- Good-bye to the sunset man -- Blue heaven -- A life in books -- Angels passing -- The little locksmith.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F234.G84 S62 2016 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
F234.G84 S62 2016 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
F234.G84 S62 2016 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
F234.G84 S62 2016 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
F234.G84 S62 2016 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
F234.G84 S62 2016 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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"A memoir that shines with a bright spirit, a generous heart and an entertaining knack for celebrating absurdity." --The New York Times Book Review

"This is Smith at her finest." --Library Journal , starred review

Set deep in the mountains of Virginia, the Grundy of Lee Smith's youth was a place of coal miners, tent revivals, mountain music, drive-in theaters, and her daddy's dimestore. When she was sent off to college to gain some "culture," she understood that perhaps the richest culture she would ever know was the one she was leaving. Lee Smith's fiction has always lived and breathed with the rhythms and people of the Appalachian South. But never before has she written her own story.
Dimestore 's fifteen essays are crushingly honest, wise and perceptive, and superbly entertaining. Together, they create an inspiring story of the birth of a writer and a poignant look at a way of life that has all but vanished.

Author Notes

Lee Smith is a novelist, short story writer, and educator. She was born in 1944 in Grundy, Virginia. Smith attended Hollins College in Roanoke, Virginia.

In her senior year at Hollins, Smith entered a Book-of-the-Month Club contest, submitting a draft of a novel called The Last Day the Dog Bushes Bloomed. The book, one of 12 entries to receive a fellowship, was published in 1968. Smith wrote reviews for local papers and continued to write short stories. Her first collection of short stories, Cakewalk, was published in 1981.

Smith taught at North Carolina State University. Her novel, Oral History, published in 1983, was a Book-of-the-Month Club featured selection. She has received two O. Henry Awards, the Robert Penn Warren Prize for Fiction, the North Carolina Award for Fiction, the Lila Wallace/Reader's Digest Award, and the Academy Award in Literature presented by the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

There are authors one reads when one wants to escape to a certain time and place such as Richard Russo's Mohawk Valley or Pat Conroy's Low Country. Loyal readers have come to know Smith's (Guests on Earth, 2013) beloved Appalachian Mountains like the backs of their hands, through novels and short stories that reveal the lives of their characters by the way they move through this rough-and-tumble, mystical world. One might have inferred that their stories are Smith's, too, and now she confirms just how much these mountains and hollers influenced her, in personal essays that look back to a time when life in Grundy, Virginia, was sweet and simple, bewildering and bizarre. Recounting how she was able to observe the townspeople from the office in her father's dime store, Smith is crystal clear on how and why she became an author as she watched the preachers and coal miners, truckers and housewives cope with a landscape that was changing in unimaginable ways. In this candid, wistful, appreciative, and beguiling memoir, Smith offers a distinctive and intimate look at one writer's beginnings.--Haggas, Carol Copyright 2016 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

In her first work of nonfiction, novelist Smith (Guests on Earth) explores how deep her Appalachian roots go, in this entertaining and poignant collection of Southern memories. Growing up in the isolated coal town of Grundy, Va., Smith's world revolved around her father's general store (the dime store of the title). She played in the rugged mountains that surrounded her home and absorbed the rhythm and cadence of mountain music and mountain-speak. She learned the art of crafting stories from puttering around her father's store, listening to the women who worked there gossip while she invented elaborate stories for all the dolls for sale. In "Recipe Box," Smith remembers her mother, who, even though she lived in Grundy for most of her adult life, was considered an outsider because she came from Virginia's Chincoteague Island. Both Smith's parents suffered from mental illness, which loomed large in Smith's childhood, which she touches on in "Kindly Nervous," and also tragically affected her son, whom she pays tribute to in one of the collection's most moving essays, "Good-bye to the Sunset Man." It's not all serious, though: in "Big River," Smith recounts a momentous raft trip that she and several college friends embark on, a la Huck Finn, down the Mississippi in 1966. Throughout it all, Smith weaves in her candid observations on the changing South and how she developed into a Southern writer, spurred on by the likes of Eudora Welty. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

This memoir is Smith (Fair and Tender Ladies; Oral History) at her finest. There is not one false note in the book. Born and raised in Grundy, WV, Smith understood at an early age that her parents-her father owned and ran the town's dimestore, and her mother was considered a stranger to townfolks even though she lived there almost 50 years-were preparing her to leave the coal mining town. She was encouraged to read, discouraged from tomboyish activities, and sent to visit her relatives in Birmingham to learn how to be a lady. VERDICT This wonderful memoir-filled with tenderness, compassion, love, and humor-is highly recommended for fans of Smith's fiction, lovers of Southern writing, and readers who are interested in the changes in small-town America.-Pam Kingsbury, Univ. of North Alabama, Florence © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Preface: Raised to Leave: Some Thoughts on "Culture"p. xi
Dimestorep. 1
Recipe Boxp. 35
Kindly Nervousp. 41
Lady Lessonsp. 51
Marble Cake and Moonshinep. 63
Big Riverp. 77
On Lou's Porchp. 87
Lightning Stormp. 101
Driving Miss Daisy Crazy; or, Losing the Mind of the Southp. 109
Good-bye to the Sunset Manp. 123
Blue Heavenp. 137
A Life in Booksp. 157
Angels Passingp. 183
The Little Locksmithp. 191
Acknowledgmentsp. 201