At-A-Site Theater Celebrating the Birthdays of Dead Writers returns! for Thomas Wolfe's Birthday - October 3

We live again when the words we wrote are read out loud to you, the listener

OCTOBER 3, 2014

Thomas Wolfe (1900-1938)

Location:  Downtown Asheville NC

Time: 11:00am-2:00pm

Either near Posano's in Pack Square  map link
or the "Iron" sculpture at Wall St & Battery Park Ave   map link
or Haywood Street near Malaprops map link 
or at the corner of North Lexington Ave & Walnut St map link


&  6:00pm-10:00pm

Same sites as above,
or near Wicked Weed and Mamacita's on Biltmore Ave map link


Passersby are invited to chose from a menu of 2-to-3-minute passages or short random quotes from the works of Asheville's own Thomas Wolfe. Their chosen selection will then be read out loud to the passerby.

Wolfe wrote four lengthy novels (famously edited by the patient Max Perkins at Scribners), plus many short stories, dramatic works and novellas.


From Wikipedia: "(In 1926) Wolfe ... began writing the first version of an autobiographical novel entitled O Lost. The narrative, which evolved into Look Homeward, Angel, fictionalized his early experiences in Asheville, and chronicled family, friends, and the boarders at his mother's establishment on Spruce Street. In the book, he renamed the town Altamont and called the boarding house "Dixieland." His family's surname became Gant, and Wolfe called himself Eugene, his father Oliver, and his mother Eliza. The original manuscript of O Lost was over 1100 pages (333,000 words) long, and considerably more experimental in style than the final version of Look Homeward, Angel.

It was submitted to Scribner's, where the editing was done by Maxwell Perkins, the most prominent book editor of the time, who also worked with Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. He cut the book to focus more on the character of Eugene, a stand-in for Wolfe.  Wolfe initially expressed gratitude to Perkins for his disciplined editing, but he had misgivings later. It has been said that Wolfe found a father figure in Perkins, and that Perkins, who had five daughters, found in Wolfe a sort of foster son."

Wolfe influenced the writings of the Beat authors, of Ray Bradbury, of Philip Roth, and many, many others. He was one of the first masters of the genre of autobiographical fiction and is considered North Carolina’s most famous writer.

More information about Thomas Wolfe can be found at Wikipedia or at the Thomas Wolfe Society. Here is information about visiting the Thomas Wolfe House Memorial in Asheville.


     Only the darkness moved about him as he lay there thinking, feeling in the darkness: a door creaked softly in the house.

"October is the season for returning: the bowels of youth are yearning with lost love. Their mouths are dry and bitter with desire: their hearts are torn with the thorns of spring. For lovely April, cruel and flowerful, will tear them with sharp joy and wordless lust. Spring has no language but a cry; but crueller than April is the asp of time.

"October is the season for returning: even the town is born anew." he thought. "The tide of life is at the full again, the rich return to business or to fashion, and the bodies of the poor are rescued out of heat and weariness. The ruin and horror of the summer is forgotten---a memory of hot cells and humid walls, a hell of ugly sweat and labor and distress and hopelessness, a limbo of pale greasy faces. Now joy and hope have revived again in the hearts of millions of people, they breathe the air again with hunger, their movements are full of life and energy. The mark of their summer's suffering is still legible upon their flesh, there is something starved and patient in their eyes, and a look that has a child's hope and expectation in it.

"All things on earth point home in old October: sailors to sea, travellers to walls and fences, hunters to field and hollow and the long voice of the hounds, the lover to the love he has forsaken--all things that live upon this earth return: Father, will you not, too, come back again? ...
Come to us, Father, while the winds howl in the darkness, for October has come again bringing with it huge prophecies of death and life and the great cargo of the men who will return. For we are ruined, lost, and broken if you do not come, and our lives, like rotten chips, are whirled about us onward in darkness to the sea."

So, thinking, feeling, speaking, he lay there in his mother's house, but there was nothing in the house but silence, and the moving darkness: storm shook the house and huge winds rushed upon them, and he knew then that his father would not come again, and that all the life that he had known was now lost and broken as a dream.

from "Of Time and the River"



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