Smart Bets: Flight behavior

Author Barbara Kingsolver returns to Asheville to read from and discuss her new book, Flight Behavior. The novel, set in Appalachia, follows up on 2009’s The Lacuna, which was set, in part, in historic Asheville. Aside from the shared regionalism (Flight's characters live in modern-day Tennessee), Kingsolver's two most recent novels have little in common — other than the author's finely detailed plots and compelling characters.

Flight follows stay-at-home mom Dellarobia who, while planning a tryst to alleviate a stale marriage, discovers a phenomenon on the mountain above her family's beleaguered farm. The find is heralded by some as a miracle, by others as a hindrance and by a group of visiting scientists as a potentially cataclysmic event.

Even as the readers come to understand just what is happening on the mountain, the answers to what is happening and what to do about it are every bit as convoluted as the lives of the people living nearby. Religion and environmentalism come in to play, but so do questions of education, opportunity, wealth and poverty, tradition and new ideas. Throughout, characters offer up humanity and humor from various viewpoints. Kingsolver isn't one to let readers easily off the hook and, while Flight offers up an engaging read, there are no easy solutions to be found among the warm and often beautiful lines of prose.

Kingsolver appears at UNCA's Lipinsky Auditorium on Wednesday, Nov. 28 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $35 and include a copy of the book. http://www.malaprops.com. Photo by David Wood.

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