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‘Strange as This Weather Has Been’ is the Common Reading selection

ISSUED: 23 August 2013
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — The Common Reading program at Shepherd University has chosen “Strange as This Weather Has Been” by Ann Pancake for its 2013-14 book selection.

Pancake is scheduled to give a lecture and book signing at 7 p.m. Tuesday, November 5, in the Frank Center Theater.

Set in present day West Virginia, “Strange as This Weather Has Been” tells the story of a coal mining family living through the latest mining boom and the destructive reality of mountaintop removal. It was selected as one of Kirkus Review’s Top Ten Fiction Books of 2007, won the 2007 Weatherford Award, and was a 2008 Orion Book Award finalist.

Shepherd is the first institution in the state to adopt the book as its common reading.

Pancake grew up in Romney and graduated from West Virginia University. She received her master’s in English from the University of North Carolina and doctorate in English literature from the University of Washington. Her short stories have appeared in the Virginia Quarterly Review, Shenandoah Review, and Antietam Review. She has received many awards including the Tennessee Williams Scholarship in Fiction, the Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize, and the National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writers’ Fellowship Grant. She currently teaches at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington.

A Common Reading-themed dinner is scheduled beforehand, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Shepherd University Dining Hall. It will feature menu items from the Appalachian region including trout, pepperoni rolls, ramps, and more. It is open to the public and costs $7.50, but is free for students with a Shepherd meal plan.

Other upcoming Common Reading events include a showing of the film “Aerial America: West Virginia” on Thursday, September 5, at 7 p.m. in the Erma Ora Byrd Auditorium. It is cosponsored by the Common Reading Program and the American Conservation Film Festival. The high-definition Discovery Channel film showcases the state as viewed from the air, including stunning views of both natural beauty and man-made environmental destruction. A short question-and-answer segment will follow the film, and maps will be on display courtesy of local satellite-mapping sleuths SkyTruth. Refreshments will be served.

Adam Booth, champion liar and professional storyteller, will deliver his latest original folktale “The Mountain Came Alive: Creating Contemporary Music and Stories rooted in Traditional Appalachia” at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, September 17, in Reynolds Hall. The folktale is about a fictional Appalachian village where the mountains are being destroyed, spells of enchantment are cast, and heritage and history are of paramount importance in the program. Booth incorporates live musical performance into parts of the story.

A showing of the film “The Last Mountain,” a powerful documentary about mountaintop removal, is scheduled for Wednesday, October 23, at 6 p.m. in the Byrd Center for Legislative Studies auditorium.

The lecture, book signing, storytelling, and film showings are free and open to the public. For more information, call 304-876-5461.

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