Wednesday, November 16, 2011

27 Views of Chapel Hill

27 Views of Chapel Hill is ostensibly a collection of essays, poems, and short stories connected in some way or another to a small town in North Carolina. What 27 Views of Chapel Hill really is, though, is a love story, as if told by someone who has long since become more than a lover and is now a partner. Someone who knows all of his or her better half's flaws and imperfections but loves nonetheless, focusing instead on the intricacies and quirks that make them great. Some essays discuss people or places in Chapel Hill directly, and others merely use the town as its setting, but in all of them there is an appreciation and adoration of this town that I, too, know and love.

There are stories about little old ladies who keep a garden, about a woman and her dog, about an old bookstore, and more. I loved reading the story written by my Community Journalism professor at Carolina about how his childhood friendship with James Taylor helped him endure his mother's crippling depression. I was interested to read the accounts of all the U.S. presidents who visited Chapel Hill, either before, during or after their presidency (including Gerald Ford, who took my grandmother on a date while she was an undergrad at UNC). I found the story set during the turmoil of the civil rights era especially poignant, especially the description of the sit in at the intersection of Franklin Street and Columbia Street, which made me think about how far we've come from then to just a few years ago, when some of my best memories were made jumping over bonfires in that same spot after we won the national championship. I liked some of the essays better than others and didn't love the poetry, but overall 27 Views of Chapel Hill was a sweet ode to a wonderful town.