“I think as the world changes, we have to keep up. We have to note what is happening, and I think writing has always had a powerful corrective influence and possibility. We have to write about what's good, and we also have to write about parts of our culture that are not good, that are not working out. I think it takes a new eye.” – Lee Smith
Born on this date in 1944, Smith is a native Virginian who grew up in Appalachia, “devoured” any books or stories she could find, and was already writing—and selling, for a nickel apiece—stories about the coal boomtown of Grundy and its nearby isolated "hollers" by the age of 9.
She continued to write at Hollins College where she and classmate (and fellow writer) Annie Dillard sang and danced in a band called The Virginia Woolfs. In her senior year she won a writing contest, which led to her first book, The Last Day The Dog Bushes Bloomed in 196, the first of 15 novels and 4 collections of short stories.
Her writing has continued to earn rave reviews and awards, including the Sidney Lanier Prize for Southern Literature and the Southern Book Critics Circle Award. Her memoir Dimestore: A Writer’s Life, published in 2016, is the story of her life in Grundy and beyond. “I write about people in small towns; I don't write about people living in big cities,” she said. “My kind of storytelling depends upon people that have time to talk to each other.”
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