While we are very excited by the progress made toward renovations at VCLA, the center likely won’t be open for another year. In the meantime, we’re dedicated to establishing a presence in and around the Winchester community — because it’s important, because we want to.
I’m very grateful to the good folks at the historic –and beautiful– Handley Library for their willingness to partner with us. Our first collaboration is the Author Series, which kicked off last Thursday with the wonderful writer John Lingan. It was at once appropriate and serendipitous to introduce this series with Lingan, whose book Homeplace deals with the cultural, musical, and sociopolitical history of Winchester, VA. John is the ideal person to write this book, which –among other things– takes a deep dive into the circumstances surrounding Patsy Cline’s rise from obscure to immortal, and the very complicated legacy of her reception (then, now) in the town she helped make (in)famous. I’ve enjoyed John’s writing (and, as someone who has written for a couple of decades about all types of music, I’m at once envious and in awe of his skills), and consider this book an invaluable addition to our current dilemma of understanding –among other things– the disparity between so-called blue states and red states, etc.
(Special gratitude to Barbara Dickinson, at Handley, and Christine Patrick, owner of local treasure The Winchester Book Gallery, pictured above, for their support and friendship.)
John read an excerpt from his book (it’s recommended reading for anyone, particularly local residents, music fans, and aficionados of Americana), discussed how it came to grow from a magazine essay into a series of interconnected stories that truly tell a story of a town, and answered questions from the audience.
This is the format I plan to use for these monthly events: allowing writers an opportunity to discuss –and read from– their works (which will be available for purchase and signing), and engage them in conversation, while encouraging participation from anyone in attendance. Interactive, positive, enjoyable. My goal –and the primary mission of VCLA– is to celebrate creativity and the people who dedicate their lives to telling stories.
The series continues on December 6, as I have the honor of welcoming veteran scribes Howard Means and Harry Jaffe to discuss the ever-controversial art of political biography, and the role of the writer in political discourse. (If you’ve not signed up for our newsletter or liked us on Facebook, do so and be fully in the loop for all-things VCLA!)
Video below, of my opening remarks, and John describing how he came to write Homeplace.