This is a series of autobiographical essays that come close to being a memoir. The title comes from the fact that Lee's father owned the dime-store in Grundy, Virginia, where she lived until her junior year in high school when she was sent to a boarding school in Richmond, Virginia, where one of her uncles was serving in the state legislature. Although I know some parts of Lee's life that she does not reveal here, what she wrote was mostly new to me, and fascinating. I read it in two days straight, relishing an opportunity to get back to it again. Her roommate at Hollins College where she was an undergraduate, Annie Dillard, wrote of this book, "Here's Lee Smith at her best. Her brilliance shines. Her wide warmth blesses everything funny about life - here especially- everything moving and deep." Yep - brilliant, warm, funny, moving, deep - that pretty much sums up Lee Smith. Read this book for insights about Appalachia and the South, about what makes some writers tick, about overcoming adversity of all kinds, about the writing process, about mental illness, or simply because you love a good story - not just from, but about, one of our premier story-tellers.
Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books, 2016. 202 pages. Hardback in dust jacket.