A former student of North Carolina’s Literary Hall of Fame Inductee, Jill McCorkle, Michael Croley is the featured Sept. 25 Weymouth writer-in-residence, reading from his debut short-story collection, “Any Other Place: Stories.”
Croley’s work reflects his upbringing in “a part of the world that was very male-dominated. I think I grew up around men who had a code of ethics with unwritten rules about what it meant to be a man. Some of those rules were good and some were bad. I think I was a pretty sensitive boy and, at the same time, very much of that male-dominated culture. So, I think the stories are trying to explore that, trying to give a sense of struggle, in part, of being two ways in the world.”
Being raised up in Appalachia, of mixed heritage, was to never feel he truly belonged to the world he lived in.
“I grew up half-Korean in this small town that had a very racist past,” he says. “I just never felt like I fit in, though as an athlete growing up — and a fairly good one — I’m sure no one else saw it that way. I started on the football team three years. I played varsity basketball three years. I was in the ‘cool’ crowd in a town that really prized athletics. But I never really fit in. I never got comfortable. It was more than teenage angst. It was being half-Korean, being on guard for the occasional racial slur or joke. I didn’t realize how uncomfortable I had been as a boy until I was pretty far away from my childhood.”
Croley’s 13 short stories feature people coping with the pain that life presents. His graceful and insightful prose brings poignancy to their personal battles. The stories are set in towns from the Appalachia of Kentucky and rural Ohio to a village in South Korea. Croley is a recipient of an NEA Fellowship in Literature and teaches creative writing at Denison University. His stories and essays have been published in VQR, The Paris Review Daily, Kenyon Review Online, LitHub, and Narrative amongst others.
The Sept. 25 reading is at 5:30 p.m. in the Great Room. A light wine and cheese reception is sponsored by St. Joseph of the Pines. The event is free and open to the public. Books will be on sale courtesy of The Country Bookshop.
The Weymouth Center for the Arts & Humanities, located at 555 East Connecticut Ave., Southern Pines, is home to the N.C. Literary Hall of Fame. The organization is now celebrating its 40th anniversary on the historic property that was once the home of James and Katharine Boyd who helped shape the Sandhills.
For more information about this and other programs, visit www.weymouthcenter.org, Facebook or call (910) 692-6261.