Charlotte Readers Podcast: Bryn Chancellor

Bryn Chancellor

Literary Fiction in the Southwest

In this episode, author Bryn Chancellor takes us into the world of literary fiction. She reads a story called “All This History at Once” from her collection of short stories that won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize.

We then spend most of the show focused on Bryn’s award-winning book, “Sycamore.” She reads various selections from the book and talks about how growing up in the Southwest gave her the sense of the place she writes about in the book. The story is a literary mystery about a young girl who disappears, only to surface years later in the hearts and minds of the residents of her small town.

Charlotte Readers Podcast is sponsored by Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.

Learn More About This Episode
Learn More About This Episode

In this episode, author Bryn Chancellor takes us into the world of literary fiction. She reads a story called “All This History at Once” from her collection of short stories that won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize.

We then spend most of the show focused on Bryn’s award-winning book, “Sycamore.” She reads various selections from the book and talks about how growing up in the Southwest gave her the sense of the place she writes about in the book. The story is a literary mystery about a young girl who disappears, only to surface years later in the hearts and minds of the residents of her small town.

Bryn teaches writing at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Among many other honors she has received, she is the recipient of a North Carolina Arts Council fellowship.

Bryn’s collection When Are You Coming Home?, which includes her story “All This History at Once,”  won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize. The collection is full of stories that shed light on ordinary lives in unexplored places. Bryn’s book, Sycamore, won the Southwest Book of the Year, an Indie Next and LibraryReads pick, and an Amazon Editors’ Best Book of 2017.

Bryn grew up in the Southwest tourist town of Sedona, Arizona, a quiet kid who she says has transformed into a weird, quiet adult, and she’s okay with that. A transplant to the South, she is not okay with tornadoes and copperheads, which she is convinced will find their way into her kitchen (the snakes, not the tornadoes); she eases this fear by eating heaps of biscuits and peaches and by sitting on her porch, watching the lightning bugs and the neighbor’s cat come and go. And writing, of course.

Here’s an excerpt from All This History at Once:

“Stairs. Steep, slippery, marble sons-of-bitches, wide as a ranch house. As you lug your booth supplies up the steps to the Ten- nessee capitol plaza, you don’t have to look back to feel the fall. A hollow, looping kind of vertigo, a fizzy pressure in your ears. It happens every time you tackle a flight of stairs like this one, or worn shag carpet, or tile or hardwood or pebbled concrete with gaps the size of small dogs. God forbid if you’re wooly from allergy meds or sleep-deprived because of your daughter’s tonsillitis or your husband’s snoring or your persistent bouts of insomnia. Or like today, if you’re wearing the red cowboy boots that you pulled from the back of the closet instead of your usual sturdy, rubber-soled canvas slip-ons, good for middle school art classrooms or chasing three-year-olds around the yard. On impulse, you also had packed a midthigh denim skirt and a filmy boatneck top, which this morning you paired with the slick-soled boots, a decision that you regret now as you do a sideways, elderly shuffle up the stairs, conscious of your knees, where the skin is giving in to gravity. Elephant knees. Not to mention, your inner thighs are rubbing together. You’ve got enough friction down there to ignite a rocket.”

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