Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thomas Wolfe House, Asheville

The weather was pretty terrible when we were in Asheville, not exactly great weather to be out walking around that cute little town. What we did see looked fun,  tons of funky shops and interesting restaurants. There were a few places driving around where Walt would stop the car and I would run in and check something out, but for the most part we didn't do too much walking, as it was really pouring rain. We did have dinner at the Tupelo Honey Cafe, which had been recommended to us by several people, and I had my first shrimp and goat cheese grits there. They were spicy and good!  Walt had the Greatful Dead Black Bean burger, which he said was delicious (and he is the expert on black bean burgers). We walked around in the rain for awhile after dinner, but most everything was closed down by then.

Wolfe's typewriter and desk
The next morning we woke up to more rain. I wanted to see Thomas Wolfe's house in Asheville, as he was a favorite author of mine back in the day. This is the boardinghouse that his mother ran, called The Old Kentucky Home, and where he lived during his childhood. It was funny, all of the other people on the tour (there were five of us) were about our age, or older, and the tour guide asked us if we had all read Thomas Wolfe. We all had read him back when we were in our 20s, in college. The tour guide was a young guy, maybe grad school, who knew alot about Wolfe. He said Wolfe isn't so popular anymore, especially with college students,  because people want shorter books, not so much description. He also told us that Look Homeward Angel, Wolfe's first novel, has never been out of print, so somebody must still be reading him. Seeing the house and all of Wolfe's things made me want to read him again. The tour guy said he reads him a chapter at a time. That will take me a long time, but I think I might try. He really had an impact on me when I read him.

There is also a Visitors Center, where you can see a video and exhibits about Thomas Wolfe's life,  and you can see his typewriter and desk, his books, and belongings from his apartment in Manhattan, where he lived after he left Asheville. Wolfe was never very happy in Asheville, but it was a major influence and inspiration for his writing.

Signed first edition of Look Homeward Angel

After getting our fill of Thomas Wolfe, we drove around town a little more, stopped at City Bakery for some lattes and pastries, and then headed out of that rainy town towards the Blue Ridge Parkway.

One of many chocolate shops/cafes in Asheville

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