Loading...
I got the surprise of my life when people were complaining about a DR editorial. You mean the BYH column is not the...

Crawdads: Is the best seller really ours?

DGMartin.jpg
1 of 3

D.G. Martin

9780735219090.jpg
DeliaO.jpg
Loading…

Sunday, May 26, 2019

North Carolina likes to be No. 1 — at everything.

We declare ourselves to be “First in Flight.” But it took a couple of Ohio boys to make that happen.

We declare ourselves to be “First in Freedom” based on the May 20, 1775, Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, a controversial claim that many historians dispute.

We also love it when books written by North Carolinians or ones set in our state become No. 1 best sellers on The New York Times list.

So this year we are bragging about “Where the Crawdads Sing,” a book set in the fictional eastern North Carolina town of Barkley Cove, and the surrounding marshes, coves, and ocean waters.

This book by Delia Owens has been on the Times’ list, usually at No. 1, for 35 weeks.

But there is a problem. We will get to that in a moment, after we consider a few things about the book that explain why it has already sold more than 2 million copies.

“Crawdads” is literary fiction with strong writing and lovely descriptions of nature’s plants and creatures. A compelling murder mystery with an unexpected ending gives readers a superior entertainment experience.

Owens is a fan of “A Sand County Almanac,” a book of nature-themed essays by Aldo Leopold. She wanted to write a book with a similar nature focus, but one that also has a strong story line.

“Crawdads” is the result. Its success demonstrates that the combination of good writing, a solid story, and interesting information about serious topics can be a commercial success.

The book’s central character, Catherine Clark or “Kya,” lives by herself in a shack in the marshes miles away from town. People in Barkley Cove think she is weird, keep their distance, and call her “the Marsh Girl.” She spent only one day in school and cannot read or write. However, because she is smart and diligent, she learns about the nature of the marshes.

She meets Tate Walker, a young man from Barkley Cove. He senses her strengths and shares her love of plants and animals. He teaches her to read and write, and falls in love with her.

When Tate leaves Kya behind to study science at UNC-Chapel Hill, she is devastated. But she rebounds to the seductive charms of Chase Andrews, a town football hero and big shot. Their secret affair is interrupted by Chase’s marriage to another woman, and Kya is again distraught.

Overcoming these disappointments, Kya leverages her reading, writing and self-taught artistic talents to record the nature world that surrounds her. When Tate, now a scientist, returns to her life, he persuades her to submit her work for publication. That book is a great success, and she writes and illustrates several more.

All this is background for the story that begins on the first pages of the book. Chase Andrews is found dead at the bottom of an old fire tower. Kya is a suspect and is ultimately charged, arrested, put in prison, and tried for Chase’s murder.

The author’s deftness in setting up this situation, and resolving it smoothly, has helped make it a best seller. “Crawdads” gained the attention of beloved actress, Reese Witherspoon. Fox 2000 has acquired film rights and plans for Witherspoon to be the producer.

We can hope that the movie will be shot in North Carolina. But here the book’s problem jumps up. The geography described in the book, with palmettos and deep marshes adjoining ocean coves, seems to fit South Carolina or Georgia coastal landscapes better than North Carolina’s coastlands.

Nevertheless, whatever the moviemakers decide, North Carolinians can bask in the reflected glory of a No. 1 best seller that claims our state for its setting.

D.G. Martin is a retired lawyer, politician and university administrator and is host of UNC-TV’s “North Carolina Bookwatch” at 11 a.m. Sundays and 5 p.m. Tuesdays.

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Look

August 25, 2019

What does a story told by a Jewish rabbi late last month at Chautauqua, N.Y., have to do with the North Carolina Board of Elections?

First a word about Chautauqua. Founded in 1874, it is the host to more than 100,000 visitors each summer. They participate in a series of lectures about religious,…

DGMartin.jpg

August 25, 2019

Badwater all starts as Goodwater.

Badwater Basin is the name of the lowest location in the United States, within Death Valley National Park. It is a saltpan valley 282 feet below sea level. If it wasn’t surrounded by mountains, it would flood Underwater.

It looks like a sea of ice in the hot…

saltflats2.jpg

August 23, 2019

TODAY

Watermelon Festival

The 34th annual Winterville Watermelon Festival continues today-Sunday in downtown Winterville. The event will include carnival rides, a parade, a watermelon-eating contest and live music and entertainment. The Watermelon Jam concert, a ticketed event, will begin at 6 p.m.…

082618watermelonfestival-6.jpg.jpg.jpg

August 21, 2019

Q I recently was diagnosed with GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and given medication. Are there any lifestyle changes I can make that will be helpful? I hate taking medicine. — GW, Greenville

A I asked Derek Schaap, a Brody medical student to answer your question. Here is what he wants…

5cff256e6c8fd.image.jpg

August 21, 2019

When hurricanes or other natural disasters impact communities, it disrupts life in many ways. For those with chronic conditions, navigating these disruptions means preparing for the worst and having an excess of the life-saving medication they depend on.

Dr. Bryan Kitch, medical director of…

Prescriptions 2.jpg

August 18, 2019

I am quitting TV journalism. From now on, I'm getting my news from the papers. I have been thinking about it for a long time, but I finally decided when a friend of mine told me his story:

I was watching Nicole Wallace one afternoon as she preached about the imminent collapse of democracy as we…

harvey

August 16, 2019

TODAY

Jazz fundraiser

The Churches Outreach Network will present an Evening of Jazz fundraiser from 6:30-9 p.m. today at Yankee Hall Plantation, 3332 Yankee Hall Road. The event, which will celebrate 11 years of service by CON, will include a three-course meal and a live jazz ensemble. Tickets are…

DSC_4731.JPG.JPG

August 14, 2019

Q: I decided to try to use olive oil instead of vegetable oil. Standing in front of the olive oil section I couldn’t figure out what to buy. Can you help? KP, Farmville

A: You share the same dilemma with many of us. On a recent trip to Boston I went into a great market that had an entire…

5cff256e6c8fd.image.jpg

August 11, 2019

Before she graduated from high school, Ghita Harris worked as a medical research assistant in the ECU School of Medicine, an opportunity that would have seemed to have put her on the fast track to becoming a physician. But more than two decades later, her journey has just begun.

The Greenville…

5d4dabb4703dd.image.jpg

August 11, 2019

Over 50 years ago, I had a Swedish girlfriend.

It never turned into anything long-term. But the fact that I met the Swedish girl before I met the girl I ended up marrying clearly introduced several complications into both relationships. And it has produced a tale that my wife Ruthie has never tired…

5cf84491e3f83.image.jpg
124 stories in Look. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 13
        Next Page»   Last Page»