Caldwell, Wayne T. 1948–
Caldwell, Wayne T. 1948–
Born 1948, in Asheville, NC; married Mary Long. Education: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, B.A., 1969; Appalachian State University, M.A., 1970; Duke University, Ph.D., 1973.
Writer; previously taught at both North Carolina Central University and Union College in Schenectady, NY, 1973-76.
Cataloochee: A Novel, Random House (New York, NY), 2007.
Wayne T. Caldwell was born in Asheville, North Carolina, and received his education in the South as well, earning degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Appalachian State University, and Duke University. After graduating, he became a faculty member at North Carolina Central University and Union College in Schenectady, New York, making a brief foray out of the South before returning to his hometown of Asheville. He began writing fiction in the late 1990s and garnered success publishing short stories before the release of his first book, Cataloochee: A Novel, a work that bears all the evidence of Caldwell's Southern upbringing and influences. Set in the rural mountains of North Carolina between the Civil War and the late 1920s, when the land was set aside as a portion of the new Smokey Mountains National Park, the book follows the lives of three families, chronicling the small details and inevitable tragedies that occur over a span of four generations, as well as the debate that arises when the government wants the land. As might be expected in a historical novel set in this time period, the families experience more than their fair share of deaths, both from accident and design. The quirks of the individuals shine through in Caldwell's depictions and bring to mind the traditional Appalachian folk tales and songs that would have been prevalent at the time the story is set. Reviews for the book varied. Due to the book's setting and Caldwell's choice of time period, some critics compared it to the works of Charles Frazier, author of Cold Mountain and 13 Moons, and Caldwell's work inevitably suffered when held up to the novels of that more seasoned writer. Cecil Bothworth, in a review for the Mountain Xpress Web site, noted that the research was exemplary, as the story came across as ‘patched together from a wealth of historical detail. The reader is left certain of the writer's familiarity with the lives of rural Western Carolinians in the 19th and early 20th centuries. But,’ he added, ‘there isn't much warmth.’ More positive reviewers praised the detail and pacing of Caldwell's debut effort. Ann H. Fisher, in a review for Library Journal, remarked: ‘Colorful and fast moving, Caldwell's novel should be popular.’ A reviewer for Publishers Weekly commented that ‘a meandering and diverting collection of tangential yarns, Caldwell's debut will find a spot on many readers' shelves."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, April 15, 2007, Ian Chipman, review of Cataloochee: A Novel, p. 34.
Library Journal, April 15, 2007, Ann H. Fisher, review of Cataloochee, p. 71.
O, the Oprah Magazine, June 2007, ‘Writer, Reconstructed: Gritty and Lyrical—A Fine First Novel of the American South,’ p. 154.
Publishers Weekly, March 12, 2007, review of Cataloochee, p. 34.
Mountain Xpress Web site,http://www.mountainx.com/ (June 20, 2007), Cecil Bothwell, ‘Cold Valley."