Chapel Hill in Plain Sight

Chapel Hill in Plain Sight


Chapel Hill in Plain Sight

Notes From the Other Side of the Tracks

by Daphne Athas

264 pages     $16.95

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Chapel Hill in Plain Sight

  Notes from the Other Side of the Tracks

    By Daphne Athas

"The richness of vision in Daphne Athas's fiction has led many of her readers to hope that we could someday read a collection of her essays—Daphne speaking directly to us in Daphne's own voice. Now, in Chapel Hill in Plain Sight, we have exactly that; and a joy it is to read."       —Reynolds Price

"Daphne Athas is the Oracle of Delphi transmigrated to Chapel Hill, spying on past, present and future . . . Athas snatches the veil off racism, classism, politics, and Vanity Fair-worthy scandals that haunt. This skilled novelist has the digging power of an ace reporter and the story-telling verve of a language wizard."      —Randall Kenan

In Chapel Hill in Plain Sight: Notes from the Other Side of the Tracks, writer Daphne Athas reveals a time when the eponymous college town was and wasn't the Southern part of heaven. This narrative traverses the twentieth-century milestones—the Depression, World War II, the McCarthy hearings, the transformation of the public university into the juggernaut of the New South's technocracy. She traces the town's literary heritage as well as generations of local mysteries and murders. She infuses this history with a local population of writers, red-baiters, philosophers, orphans, revolutionaries, and landlords.

    When Athas and her newly poor family crash-landed in Chapel Hill during the Depression, they settled into life on the other side of the tracks. From that perspective, the precocious, highly educated, teenaged Athas honed her abilities to uncover and dissect myth and secrets to create a chronicle that distills truth from lore.

    Athas writes of the artists and thinkers who came to Chapel Hill—Betty Smith, Richard Wright, Gertrude Stein, Paul Green, Zora Neale Hurston, Horace Williams, Clifford Odets, William Faulkner, even Ava Gardener make appearances. The famous and notorious intermingle with local characters. The Athas family's idiosyncratic journey is the key to a story of unparalleled discovery and wonder.

    Daphne Athas is an award-winning writer. Her novel, Entering Ephesus, was named one of Time Magazine's best books of 1971. She has written numerous other books and is the two-time winner of the Sir Raleigh Award. She taught in the Creative Writing Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1968 until 2009. She lives in Carrboro, next door to the very house she describes building in Chapel Hill in Plain Sight.

“The book may appear to be a memoir, but opened wider, the stories not only illuminate the evolution of a town and a university, but also unearth the ambitions, dreams and class systems of her past. It becomes a lens for understanding an increasingly fast-moving Chapel Hill.”   --News & Observer