I’d like to thank Alli Marshall for her very generous review of Asheville’s River Arts District [posted at mountainx.com on July 31], the illustrated history that my 18-year-old son and I produced. And [I’d like] to fine-tune only one description: “It’s not a history tome so much as a scrap book … enough to give the curious reader and the lay history buff a substantial taste of local lore.”
The format, a staple of Arcadia’s “Images of America” series, certainly leads one to think scrapbook. It’s certainly not a tome. However, I labored to reform that approach, and Arcadia allowed me to do so. The book is organized as a tour, with each of several subdistricts given narrative treatment. My son and I were permitted to use contemporary photos, now-and-then photos, and long captions to give a sense of the current renaissance and tell human stories.
Not only is there a narrative, there’s a theme—that of resurgent communities: West End/Clingman, Southside and the arts community, among others. The book begins with the image of the Cotton Mill fire, starting in what I call, “The Historical Heart,” and prefiguring the phoenix rising.
Henry and I will launch our book at Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café on Thursday, Sept. 18, at 7 p.m. I look forward to the celebration of community.
— Rob Neufeld