The Napkin Manuscripts is a collection of twenty-two engaging prose pieces written over the past several decades by Michael McFee poet, essayist, editor, and teacher. Taken together, they constitute a wide-ranging exploration of what working writers do, how they do it, and what it means. The book is divided into four parts: Section one is composed of personal essays, and is rooted in the landscape and culture of the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, where the author grew up and where he often returns for inspiration. Section two gathers essays about the literary life and writing, among them pieces on editing, on teaching, on memorizing poetry, on rejection slips, on typewriters, and on becoming and being a writer. Section three collects seven essays about individual Appalachian writers, among them Fred Chappell, Kathryn Stripling Byer, and Robert Morgan. Section four consists of a public interview conducted at the Michael McFee Literary Festival at Emory & Henry College a few years ago, and recapitulates many of the book s topics in lively conversational form. The Napkin Manuscripts will appeal to anyone with a connection to Appalachia and the South; to readers interested in contemporary poetry and literature; and to teachers, writers, and students of poetry, essays, and creative n-fiction.
Michael McFee is professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has published seven collections of poetry: Shinemaster, Earthly, Colander, To See (with photographer Elizabeth Matheson), Sad Girl Sitting on a Running Board, Vanishing Acts, and Plain Air. He has also edited two anthologies, This Is Where We Live: Short Stories by 25 Contemporary North CarolinaWriters and The Language They Speak Is Things to Eat: Poems by 15 Contemporary North Carolina Poets. His poems and essays have appeared in Hudson Review, Southern Review, Five Points, Oxford American, and many other publications.