Lee’s Memoir, Dimestore will be published in March, 2016 by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.
Click to hear Lee read a portion of The Last Girls.
Dimestore: A Writer's Life
Thoughts on place, memory, and writing
Over 45 years ago, Lee Smith published her first novel, and in the intervening years, she’s published 12 more novels and four short story collections, winning a variety of prestigious awards for her work. Now, for the first time, Lee Smith writes about the South she knew as she grew up, a place that in many ways has vanished.
Smith writes about her father’s dimestore in her hometown (the dimestore now gone, along with the original town); her relatives and the local characters; her mother’s long-cherished recipes and what they mean to her; the mental illness that courses through her family tree; and how her mountain culture made her a writer.
This is the story of Lee Smith, but it’s also the story of a time and place that most of us will never experience. Told with great honesty, humor, and sensitivity, DIMESTORE, like Eudora Welty’s ONE WRITER’S BEGINNINGS or Annie Dillard’s AN AMERICAN CHILDHOOD, is a book that will resonate not just for Lee Smith’s fans, but for anyone who is interested in writing or who longs to know a way of life fast disappearing.
Read an excerpt from Dimestore
Recent Praise for Dimestore...
“Smith delivers a memoir that shines with a bright spirit, a generous heart and an entertaining knack for celebrating absurdity. Although DIMESTORE is constructed as a series of personal essays, it presents as full a sense of a life as any traditional narrative.”
“You know how in Lee Smith’s fiction there’s always something so fresh, crazy, and loving? In Dimestore is the essence of Lee.”
"We have Eudora Welty’s One Writer’s Beginnings, and now we have Lee Smith’s Dimestore. These two great American writers have in common an immense gift for characterization, a humorous sense of the absurd in daily life, and a precise, evocative prose style. In both their memoirs, I relish their restrained and perfectly rendered stories of their own lives. 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. Thousands have fallen in love with every word Lee Smith writes, and Dimestore will bring them new joy."
"Here's Lee Smith at her best. Dimestore is personal nonfiction, where her brilliance shines. Her wide warmth blesses everything funny about life and--here especially--everything moving and deep."
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, VA, 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.
“Candid and unsentimental, Smith's book sheds light on her beginnings as writer while revealing her resilience and personal transformations over the course of a remarkable lifetime. A warm, poignant memoir from a reliably smooth voice.”
Dimestore will be published in March, 2016 by Algonquin Books.