Blue Ridge Bookfest highlights memoirs and more
Bill Ramsey was one of the driving forces behind Blue Ridge Bookfest and still helps publicize the event. This year, he’ll be wearing a new hat at the festival. Now in its sixth year, it takes place at Blue Ridge Community College over the weekend of April 25 and 26. More than 35 authors from around the country will participate; Ramsey, who became an author since starting the festival, will be among them.
Ramsey’s first books were a volume of memoir (Billy the Kid) and then a collection of personal essays (Now That I Think About It). His third book, Me Now — Who Next? The Inspiring Story of a Traumatic Brain Injury Recovery, sees him step beyond his own experiences to tell the true story of Angela Leigh Tucker, a successful business executive whose life was disrupted when she suffered a serious brain injury due to a car accident.
As Ramsey describes it, in one day Tucker “went from being a young, up-and-coming vice president of a public relations firm in New York City, married less than a year and owning a home for less than four months to … being in a six-week coma, [suffering from] dangerously broken bones, widowed, jobless and soon to be homeless because of foreclosure. Everything most of us would regard as singular losses, she lost in one fell swoop.”
Four months after the crash, Tucker moved to Hendersonville to live with her father while recovering. A friend of the family, Ramsey got to know Tucker and felt he needed to tell her story. At that point, according to the writer, Tucker resembled a “walking trainwreck,” with her arm still in a cast, getting around with the help of a cane, and the scar of a tracheotomy still fresh on her throat. The longest-lasting damage was to her memory. One of the common side effects of traumatic brain injury is memory loss —Tucker suffered severely. However, the process of researching the book and Ramsey’s interviews (with both Tucker and her family and friends) helped Tucker to recover some of her past.
Me Now — Who Next? is primarily an inspiring story of one woman’s efforts to restore her life after an incredible injury, but Ramsey also manages to educate the reader about traumatic brain injury without overwhelming the narrative. Both Ramsey and Tucker will be at Bookfest discussing the story and the process of writing the book on Saturday, at 11 a.m.
Friday night’s keynote presenter is Ken Grossman, president and founder of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and author of Beyond the Pale: The Story of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., a memoir of his career in beer-making. The book is an insightful and humorous account of Grossman’s life from his first experiments in home-brewing, through his early days in business, to the development of what he calls the “Sierra Nevada way,” where the success of his brewery is founded on principles of nonconformity, sustainability and passion. With the imminent opening of Sierra Nevada’s new plant in Mills River, Grossman’s book is likely to be a popular read for the large Asheville brewing community.
Grossman will be the featured speaker at Friday night’s fundraising gala — one of the only ticketed events over the weekend (the other is a luncheon with author Cassandra King on Saturday) — and will be delivering a public presentation about his memoir on Saturday, at 10 a.m.
Other notable Bookfest appearances include King (her latest novel is Moonrise), local poet Nancy Dillingham (author of Home: Poems), and military historian and Vietnam veteran Nicholas Warr, whose new book is C).
Blue Ridge Bookfest, blueridge.edu/blueridgebookfest
The campus of Blue Ridge Community College, 180 W. Campus Drive, Flat Rock
Friday, April 25, 1:30-7:30 p.m. and Saturday, April 26, 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Most events are free.