Home of the Week: Thomas Wolfe Memorial

12 authors donate rocking chairs to the Thomas Wolfe house, and recall why the writer inspired them

Published February 14, 2014 in the Black Mountain News

Thomas Wolfe's brother Ben died in this room during the 1918 flu epidemic, at age 26. Wolfe fictionalized Ben's death as part of his novel 'Look Homeward, Angel.' / Henry Neufeld / Special to the Citizen-Times

Thomas Wolfe’s brother Ben died in this room during the 1918 flu epidemic, at age 26. Wolfe fictionalized Ben’s death as part of his novel ‘Look Homeward, Angel.’ / Henry Neufeld / Special to the Citizen-Times

Wolfe’s writing is so rife with realistic incident as well as full-throated poetry that we follow some of our writers back to the house for intimate moments that have had effects on their craft. 

“Early in Chapter 7, in ‘Look Homeward, Angel,’” says Joseph Bathanti, the current N.C. Poet Laureate, “W.O. Gant (Eugene’s father) returns from California. Eliza is in the kitchen, wearing one of his ‘old coats’ and there is a ‘crawling little fire.’ All the affection he can summon after his epic absence is a hand ‘clumsily on her shoulder.’

“But, ever Prometheus, he douses the grate with kerosene, adds kindling, then coal until the fire ‘burnt madly,’ and Eliza cries ‘you’ll burn us up.’”

Bathanti, in his seven volumes of poetry and three novels, places himself in family circles and working class job sites, where drama is rarely blatant and deep emotional currents are communicated via signs.

[Read the entire article, including recollections from 11 other writers, here]

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