Editorial: An appreciation of the regional arts of Roanoke, up and down | Editorial


Here’s an unusual and funny thing: a Roanoke-centric bestseller list.

Independent bookseller Book No Further in downtown Roanoke released a list of its 25 best-selling titles in 2021. Since founder Doloris Vest opened her store in 2017, the store has made a habit of promoting the work of treasury of local authors in the region, and this list reflects those efforts.

Probably, it won’t shock anyone who has paid the slightest attention to the fact that former Roanoke Times reporter Beth Macy’s “Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America” ​​review is widely held. acclaimed. of the opioid crisis and its record on Appalachia, recently adapted into an eight-part Hulu miniseries that is now nominated for a Golden Globe.

Series stars Michael Keaton and Kaitlyn Dever are also nominated in the Best Limited TV Series categories for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress, respectively. (While the show can be heart-wrenching, there’s fun spotting the many recognizable locations in Virginia used for filming.)

People also read …

Macy appears on the list again at # 14 with “Factory Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local – And Helped Save An American Town,” her 2014 debut recounting how John Bassett III of Vaughan-Bassett Furniture Co. at Galax fought to prevent jobs at its factory from going overseas.

Intriguing third place goes to Bland County author Kristina Gorcheva-Newberry (as Macy, a Hollins University alumnus) for her debut collection of short stories “What Isn’t Remembered”, winner of the Raz / Shumaker Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction.

A native of Moscow who immigrated to rural Virginia in 1995, she thanks mentors at Hollins and Radford University for encouraging her to become a writer, an ambition that never occurred to her until she read. the late Toni Morrison’s novel “The Bluest Eye” in a college class.

Blacksburg is pictured in fifth place with author Sarah Warburton’s “You Never Can Tell,” a “suburban serial killer thriller,” as Warburton puts it, released in August by cozy mystery publisher Crooked Lane Books. Fans of another Hulu series, “Only Murders in the Building,” might be intrigued to know that Warburton is incorporating an actual crime podcast – because listening to one sparked the idea for his novel.

Roanoke College Associate Professor Gregory Samantha Rosenthal appears at No. 9 with “Living Queer History: Remembrance and Belonging in a Southern City,” published last month by the University of North Carolina Press. A review of LGBTQ history and culture in Roanoke and the Appalachians, the book is based on interviews conducted by the Southwest Virginia LGBTQ + History Project, which Rosenthal co-founded.

At number 26 you’ll find one of the most famous Roanoke Valley tomes of all time, Hollins alumnus Annie Dillard’s poetic collection of reflections on nature, “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek”.

When President Barack Obama awarded Dillard a National Humanities Medal in 2014, a military aide intoned, “In poetry and prose, Mrs. Dillard called upon us to stand humbly before the austere beauty of creation. (The same ceremony honored actresses Sally Field and Miriam Colón and fellow writers Larry McMurtry, Stephen King, and Tobias Wolff.)

Book No Further’s list is a quick and delicious tour of our region’s vibrant art scene and rich literary heritage – not to mention the fact that it’s just a scratch on the surface. Hopefully, this will send curious readers to explore.

As long as we’re celebrating a sample of the Roanoke region’s contribution to great art, we might as well cheat a low Roanoke-centric art offering that’s probably not on your radar.

On New Years Day, Netflix added a thriller to its streaming lineup called “#followfriday”. We’re not going to mince our words: this is a 2016 slasher movie that first aired on SyFy, a cable network long known for its questionable quality content. While not the worst movie ever made (stay until the end for a note on this), the film is so eager to hammer home a message that too many young people are spending too much time on social media that it completely neglects other essential ingredients, like written dialogue like humans actually speak, or a cohesive plot.

Why mention this offer? Well, if you think it’s fun spotting familiar settings while watching “Dopesick,” you’ll have a hundredfold fun watching “#followfriday,” which was filmed all over Roanoke and Salem, with the emphasis on the beautiful Roanoke College campus. Every 10 minutes, it seems, the film switches to a view of the Roanoke Star.

In 2020, Roanoke was the scene of a puzzling little indie drama, “The Swerve”, which achieved the astonishing feat of earning a “100% Fresh” score on Rottentomatoes.com, which movie nerds know is 1) very difficult to make, 2) and a sign of an excellently made movie. “#followfriday” on the other hand has garnered so little attention despite its release for years that it has no reviews of Rotten Tomatoes from critics and a 23% “rotten” audience score.

Back in the Dinosaur Age – that is, 1999 – the hit sci-fi show “The X-Files” put on an episode in “Hollins, Virginia” but did not film it here. , which a few local fans saw as a missed opportunity, as the ironic tale of demonic powers might have been able to make practical use of the big shining star in Star City.

Well, for those who have been waiting to see the Roanoke Star employed for a spooky atmosphere, “#followfriday” does. Maybe someday there will be a really cool blockbuster movie that features his cat and mouse shootout inside the Grandin Theater in Roanoke, but until that movie comes along we have “#followfriday”.

Regarding that previous note: In 2011, a remake of the worst movie ever, “Plan 9 from Outer Space” was partially filmed in Roanoke. The remake is terrible too, but fun in the same way that movies that know they’re bad can be fun.


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