All Posts Tagged Tag: ‘Neil White’

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That’s Write, Autumn Offers Authors Abounding: Neil White, Sebastian Junger, G.B. Tran and Our Own Tony Abbott


I’ve always wondered: What kind of guy goes out in the world to be a correspondent in areas of war and global conflict? I have a hard enough time most days being a correspondent in a Herman Miller chair and air conditioning. In any case, such a question is not necessarily a thing you can ask a man directly, but I’ve gotten a sense of it from some recent campus visits. New York Times war photographer Tyler Hicks, who visited Davidson last semester, memorably used long silences during his photographic presentation to convey some of the unspoken answers to such wonderings. I don’t know exactly why he does it, but I have a feeling for it after hearing him talk, and not talk, about it.

Sebastian Junger, courtesy photo

On Sept. 20, Davidson audiences will get another renowned hotspot correspondent’s viewpoint, when author Sebastian Junger delivers the college’s prestigious Reynolds Lecture at 7:30 p.m. in Duke Family Performance Hall. Having read some of Junger’s work, I’ll venture to say that Junger’s tales will be just as compelling as Hicks’, with or without images, and with or without silences. Storytelling, in words and images, is their life’s blood, after all.

Junger is the internationally acclaimed, best-selling author of The Perfect Storm, A Death in Belmont and Fire. A graduate of Wesleyan University, Junger works as a contributing editor to Vanity Fair and a contributor to ABC News. He has covered major international news stories in Liberia, Sierra Leone and around the globe. Tickets are free but required. Call the Union Ticket Office 704-894-2135.

The fall schedule is rife with writers and other creative storytellers. A few highlights:

• At this coming Tuesday’s college common hour, 11:05 a.m., Tues., Sept. 13 in the C. Shaw Smith Room of the Alvarez College Union, author (and Davidson parent) Neil White will discuss his memoir, In the Sanctuary of Outcasts, about the year he lived with the last victims of leprosy in the continental United States. He has been a newspaper editor, magazine publisher, advertising executive and federal prisoner. In the Sanctuary of Outcasts was the common reading selection for the Davidson Class of 2015 and the most recent selection of the Davidson College Online Book Club.

• At the end of this month, cartoonist G.B. Tran will discuss his graphic memoir, VIETNAMERICA, a depiction of his family’s survival and escape during the Vietnam War and their reinvention in its aftermath as refugees living in the United States, on Tuesday, Sept. 27 at 7:30 p.m., in the C. Shaw Smith 900 Room, Alvarez College Union. Tran received the 2011 Gregory Millard Fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts.

• Next month, look forward to a Sunday afternoon lecture by Davidson’s Charles A. Dana Professor Emeritus of English Anthony S. Abbott, Sun., Oct. 16, 3 p.m., Semans Lecture Hall, Belk Visual Arts Center. Abbott is the Charles A. Dana Professor of English Emeritus at Davidson College, where he taught from 1964 to 2001. He is the author of six books of poetry, including the newly published collection If Words Could Save Us, and two novels, including Leaving Maggie Hope, which received the Novello Festival Press Award.

For more arts, entertainment, scholarship and sports, check out the campus calendar.

Today: ‘In the Sanctuary of Outcasts’ Online Discussion



Discussion Begins Today!

Neil White, whose daughter Maggie is a rising senior, is author of this year’s freshman reading selection, as well as the selection of the Davidson College Online Book Club.

White, who will visit campus Sept. 13, will also be online to participate in the Book Club’s discussion Aug. 17-21. Click to visit the page, and post a comment (which will pre-approve your future comments).

Join us as we discuss this thoughtful and compelling work of literary journalism!

Summer Reading: Daddy’s Little Goalie, In the Sanctuary of Outcasts, and What We Take With Us


With all the suggestions for summer reading flying around, allow me to add two selections to your list of candidates. Both are by Davidson College parents.

First, you may have already heard Robert Strauss on “Charlotte Talks” this week, talking about his new book, Daddy’s Little Goalie: A Father, His Daughters, and Sports. One of his daughters, Ella, just finished her first year at Davidson. I haven’t read the book yet, but am looking forward to it.

“It is a love letter of sorts, but without the syrup and sap. And the tears. What separates it from the well-worn genre of fathers and offspring bonding is gender.” said the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Second, a book I have read and plan to read again is Neil White’s In the Sanctuary of Outcasts. White’s daughter Maggie is a rising Davidson senior. His book is about “how he ended up in a federal prison in rural Louisiana, serving eighteen months for bank fraud. But it was no ordinary prison. The beautiful, isolated colony in Carville, Louisiana, was also home to the last people in the continental United States disfigured by leprosy.”

An uncomfortable premise on several fronts, yes, but a rich, rich experience, I assure you—just as I assure some 490+ incoming freshmen. White’s book is this year’s summer-reading selection for first-year students.

We will also simultaneously feature Sanctuary on the Davidson College Book Club online.

I learned of Sanctuary when my mom sent it to me the year it was published, 2009. Mom lives in DeKalb, Mississippi, a half a state away in one direction from White’s current home in Oxford, and a half a state away the other direction from his erstwhile Gulf Coast magazine-publishing concerns. Mom had noticed the mention of Maggie’s Davidson career in the book’s epilogue, so she sent it.

Actually, I think Mom would have sent this book along anyway. A language maven with a sharp eye for a good read, and a professional writer and editor herself, she shared the love of reading and writing with me long ago during regular Sunday trips to the Forsyth County, N.C. Public Library. Now that she’s more than 500 miles away, we continue to share bubble-wrapped books via U.S. Postal Service. There’s something satisfying about sharing the same physical book in real space and passing time, rather than just viewing versions of the same computer file through a cyberspacetime screenmatrix device, or something.

I was reminded of the importance of real space and real time this very afternoon when my friend and mentor Registrar and Professor of German and Humanities Hansford Epes ’61 [whose name I omitted to include here in the first iteration of this post—DOH!] sent me an article about teaching and learning, “What We Take With Us,” by M. Garrett Bauman.

In a superb meditation on the life of the mind, on literature, on teachers and on students, Bauman holds up as example one of his own first and best undergraduate teachers, Carter Daniel, Davidson Class of 1959 and now director of Business Communication Programs, Rutgers Business School.

“Perhaps teachers inspired us to enter the profession,” writes Bauman, himself a professor emeritus, “sophisticated, animated men and women who made us wish to be them and live a life like theirs. They seemed unattainably brilliant and confident; they owned new worlds and generously invited us in.

“For me, it was Carter Daniel, whose freshman year of teaching at Upsala College coincided with my freshman year as a student. He gave me Greek drama, Dante, and Cervantes and later Spenser, Donne, and Milton. He encouraged my crude writing, founded a campus writing society, played classical piano and advanced tennis, drew students into intense discussions in his office and his home. Tough-minded and engaged with ideas, Carter made college teaching seem like a worthy life.”

Even if you know you will never make it to the bottom of your stack of summer reading—who will?—you should read Bauman’s whole article.

And find a teacher of your own to thank.