Lee Smith comes across as a dynamic cheerleader who talks with a loud lilting voice and dominates the room with her infectious and buoyant demeanor. She makes those she talks with feel like they are the most important people ever. They feel in the presence of a personage who wants to know everything about them and yet can’t resist an irrepressible urge to share her reactions as well. Her writing reflects her inner spirit, full of humor, always telling a compelling story whose wisdom and depth sneaks up on the reader. Lee Smith was born in 1944 in Grundy, Virginia, a coalfield county seat where her father owned the Ben Franklin Dime Store and the Piggly Wiggly Grocery Store. Her father’s people had deep roots there in Buckhannon County. Her mother came from Assateague Island on the other side of Virginia to teach school there. In her junior year, Lee Smith was sent to a boarding high school in Richmond, Virginia, where one of her uncles was serving in the state legislature. Then she attended Hollins College near Roanoke where she roomed with Annie Dillard another distinguished writer. Smith’s first novel was accepted by a New York publisher before she graduated. While living in Nashville and teaching at a Junior High School while her first husband was a Vanderbilt professor, Smith decided to focus her writing on the people of the Appalachian Mountains like those she grew up with. She has lived in Hillsborough, North Carolina, with her second husband, Hal Crowther, a nonfiction writer, for many years now. Smith has published sixteen novels and four story collections, accumulated eight major writing awards and is widely considered one of the most accomplished contemporary fiction writers of Appalachia. Dimestore: A Writer’s Life is a collection of fifteen autobiographical essays. “Lee Smith is, of course, a national treasure, and this subtle and moving memoir enlarges my sense of the origins of her deep, wide work.” - Frances Mayes. “A pitch-perfect mining of the memories, desires, and imagination fueling one of the South’s--no, one of America’s--master storytellers.:” - Beth Macy.
Chapel Hill, North Carolina: Algonquin Books, a 2017 paperback reprint of a 2016 release. 202 pages. Trade paperback