Serious Reads

Serious Reads: In six impactful new offerings, local authors make every word count
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All of Us Together in the End
By Matthew Vollmer

Vollmer, a Cherokee County native and a product of one of WNC’s deeply rooted Seventh-day Adventist communities, is an English instructor at Virginia Tech. His latest book is a poignant memoir, set in the spooky, disorienting first year the pandemic, wherein he charts new existential bearings after leaving the church, losing his stalwart mother after her decade of dementia, and helping his father divine the nature and meaning of mysterious lights that appear on the family’s land.

The Beautiful Misfits
By Susan Reinhardt

The author, a beloved Southern scribe familiar to many from her years of Asheville Citizen-Times columns, returns with a new novel propelled by an Asheville mother’s struggle with her son’s drug addiction and the difficult choices that result. The heavy subject matter is leavened by Reinhardt’s knack for finding traditional comforts of hope and humor in even the most daunting of modern dilemmas.

Oconaluftee: The History of a Smoky Mountain Valley
By Elizabeth Giddens

In this sweeping new chronicle of a “seemingly isolated valley that has an epic tale to tell,” Giddens, a professor of English at Kennesaw State University, tells the story of all who have called the North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountains home, from the indigenous Cherokee to the white and Black settlers, across historic epochs including the Trail of Tears, the Civil War, and the rise of national parks.



Here in the Dark
By Meagan Lucas

This debut story collection by Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College writing instructor Lucas finds many of its protagonists—usually Southern Appalachian women—on the wrong side of the law, in situations where the right side just doesn’t seem in reach. These are gritty and often darkly funny tales of perseverance, resistance, and doing what you have to do.

The Trackers
By Charles Frazier

The much-anticipated new novel by one of the mountain area’s favorite authors, The Trackers spins a Depression-era tale that stretches across an aching America full of clashing dreams and despairs. Fans of Cold Mountain will revel in Frazier’s intricately drawn characters, who confront unsettling secrets in their quest for art that echoes the scope, challenges, and wonder of life.

Those We Thought We Knew
By David Joy

In his fifth novel probing Western North Carolina’s underbelly of tortured souls and tragic fates, Joy tackles important new territory. The Black Lives Matter movement comes to Sylva in the form of a young artist determined to resurrect the “removed” memories of her people, and the community’s long-ignored but still-open wounds gush forth with new blood. Joy once again dares to confront complexities few writers will, with his signature authenticity intact.