Margaret Maron! When I read Bootleggers Daughter 20 years ago, it was the beginning of a wonderful reading journey through North Carolina.
The bestselling Judge Deborah Knott mysteries that followed now 17 in all have deepened my appreciation for both the older ways of Carolina and the 21st century realities of the New South. As a mystery reader, I found these books both page turners and deeply evocative.
Margaret Maron seemed like the perfect choice to be the featured author for Durham County Librarys celebration of reading and community: Durham Reads Together. But this year, we decided to put a new spin on the one community, one book theme. Instead of picking just one Margaret Maron Judge Knott mystery, why not invite Durhamites to read the entire series, or to sample the collection by reading the Judge Knott titles that interest them most?
I contacted Mrs. Maron to see if she would be interested in this novel idea, and we were thrilled and honored when she accepted. Meeting her for the first time, we found that she is wonderfully accessible, has a great sense of humor and is full of stories.
Maron says her novels are the pegs on which I hang my love and concerns for North Carolina. While many of Judge Knotts cases take place in the fictional Colleton County (read Johnston County), Judge Knott travels all over the state filling in for other district court judges. From the mountains to the sea, the New and Old South, sometimes on a collision course, shape the vibrant culture that Maron explores in these mysteries.
The month-long Durham Reads Together 2012 kicks off with a visit from Margaret Maron, a book discussion and a book signing at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 9,. in the Main Library Auditorium. Other programs in the series explore many of the prevalent themes in Marons novels, including race, southern food and culture, and land-use issues as local farmers are priced off of their own land in the face of development.
• Bootlegging: An Old Family Tradition
Sunday, Sept. 16, at 3 p.m.
Main Library, 300 N. Roxboro St.
Historian Todd Johnson looks at the illegal liquor trade with stories and speeches from both sides of the law.
• Race in Margaret Marons North Carolina
Saturday, Sept. 22, at 3 p.m.
Dr. Sharon Holland, of Duke University discusses how race is explored in the Judge Knott series.
• Southern Cooking
Sunday, Sept. 23, at 3 p.m.
Southwest Regional Library , 3605 Shannon Road
Chefs Ben Barker of Magnolia Grill, Billy Cotter of Toast, Amy Tornquist of Watts Street Grocery and Iron Chef Walter Royal of the Angus Barn discuss Southern food cultures.
• Family Farms or Suburban Sprawl?
Sunday, Sept. 30, at 3 p.m.
South Regional Library, 4505 S. Alston Road
Steve and Martha Leonard Mobely, owners of Meadow Lane Farm in Franklin County and popular vendors at the Durham Farmers Market discuss the suburbanization of family farms and other land use issues.
The month-long celebration includes a fundraising event for Durham Library Foundation in a private home in Hope Valley. At this southern brunch, Maron will read from her upcoming book, The Buzzard Table, and guests will receive a copy of her latest novel, Three-Day Town. This special fundraiser is $150 per person. All other events are free and open to the public.
Durham Reads Together 2012 will end on Sunday, Oct. 7, with a special Roast and Toast at the Washington Duke Inn. Members of Marons writing group including Bren Witchger, Diane Chamberlain and Katy Munger, will talk with and about their friend at 2:30 p.m. in the Ambassador Ballroom.
I invite everyone to join us as we celebrate Durham Reads Together and Margaret Marons North Carolina. Visit the librarys website ( durhamcountylibrary.org
) for a complete listing of the events and more information about Ms. Maron. You can also discuss your favorite titles in the series with other fans, or put books on hold for easy pick up at your local library.
Whether you are a long-time devotee of Judge Knott, or just getting to know this uniquely North Carolinian character, we expect that everyone in Durham will be a Margaret Maron fan after DRT 2012!
Joanne Abel is the Durham County Library humanities and adult programming coordinator.