Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Literary Moments: Asheville, NC

Earlier this month, I spent about a week in the beautiful mountain city of Asheville, NC. It is such a lovely place devoted to art, history, food, and...literature! Every time I turned around I ran into a different place that was wrapped up in literary history and tradition. Here's a glimpse of some of the adventures I had:

  • Burial Place of O. Henry: American short story writer O. Henry (William Sidney Porter) was buried at Riverside Cemetery after dying in New York City. After some hunting and directions from a kind gentleman, my sister and I were able to locate the grave and leave a token of our respect (a penny) for this amazing author.
  • Area Bookstores: Asheville's downtown area has a number of bookstores, but two stand out in particular. The first is Malaprop's, Asheville's most famous bookstore. It is locally owned and operated and has a wide selection of books from classics, to poetry, to local authors. A must visit for all readers. The other is the Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar which sells hundreds of used books and also has a wine/champagne bar for those who enjoy a glass with their novel. It is also a nice place to just crash and lose yourself in a book.
  • Grove Park Inn and Resort: This beautiful resort has been a part of Asheville's landscape since 1913, and has hosted many distinguished guests including famed American author F. Scott Fitzgerald who stayed at the inn while visiting his wife in a local mental hospital. Even if you can't afford to stay there (I sure couldn't), it's a neat place to visit.
  • Biltmore Estate: Though this place alone is worth a trip to Asheville, there is one part in particular that will thrill book lovers. The library holds about 10,000 volumes of Geroge Vanderbilt's 23,000 collection and Napoleon's chess set. George even had a secret door that led directly from his room to the library. I really like that guy!
  • Thomas Wolfe Memorial: Of course, no trip to Asheville is complete without a visit to the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Home. This Asheville native is considered by many to be on par with such great writers as F. Scott Sitzgerald and William Faulkner. Today, you can visit the Old Kentucky Home Inn that plays a large role in his semi-autobiographical novel "Look Homeward Angel". After the tour, I picked up my own copy of this American classic and have added it to my "to read" list. You can also visit his grave at Riverside Cemetery.
So, if you are looking for a unique place to visit, I can't recommend Asheville highly enough. With it's beautiful landscape, delicious restaurants, stunning art galleries, and literary touches, there is truly something for everyone here.

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