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Publisher's Summary

In her first work of nonfiction, Lee Smith deploys the wit, wisdom, and graceful prose for which she is beloved to conjure her early days in the small coal town of Grundy, Virginia - and beyond.

For the inimitable Lee Smith, place is paramount. For 45 years, her fiction has lived and breathed with the rhythms and people of the Appalachian South. But never before has she written her own story. Set deep in the rugged Appalachian Mountains, the Grundy of Lee Smith's youth was a place of coal miners, mountain music, and her daddy's dimestore. It was in that dimestore - listening to customers and inventing life histories for the store's dolls - that she began to learn the craft of storytelling. Even though she adored Grundy, Smith's formal education and travels took her far from Virginia, though her Appalachian upbringing never left her.

Dimestore's 15 essays are crushingly honest, always wise, and superbly entertaining. Smith has created both a moving, personal portrait and a broader meditation on embracing one's heritage. Hers is an inspiring story of the birth of a writer and a poignant look at a way of life that has all but vanished.

©2016 Lee Smith (P)2016 Recorded Books

Critic Reviews

"As [narrator Linda] Stephens shares Smith's collection of essays, which explore the indelible influence that the Appalachian region had on her imagination and creative life, listeners will begin to believe she IS the author. Bringing to life a forgotten world of local dime stores and a distinctive region with its own passions and eccentricities, Stephens casts a spell and breathes insight into Smith's candid observations..." ( AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Pronunciation matters!

I wish I had read this book in form rather than listening on Audible. The way the reader pronounces 'Appalachia' ruined it for me. It is clear the reader is not from the area she reads about...but this should have been caught by the author and editors. It is a sign of respect to pronounce a word as local tradition pronounces it. If you are from Southern Appalachia you will know what I mean. Pronunciation matters...ask Sharyn McCrumb who explains it well.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

After hearing Appalachia pronounced .............

What made the experience of listening to Dimestore the most enjoyable?

...with a long A's four times consecutively I decided it was ignorance and not simple mispronunciation.Honestly Audible - this may be your single biggest production screw up ever. Do you have anybody editing ? Did Lee Smith hear this mistake before it was released ?

What did you like best about this story?

Lee Smith's writing.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Little respect for the material - see above.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, but I can't now.Probably will return it.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

A disappointment

What would have made Dimestore better?

I don't really know. I am a huge fan of Lee Smith's books and I expected this book to be fascinating. I'm three-quarters of the way through it and I'm still waiting for it to get interesting.

What was most disappointing about Lee Smith’s story?

I wish I had chosen to read, rather than listen to this book. For the life of me, I don't know why they didn't get a southerner to narrate it. The accent is wrong, the intonations, the phrasing, it just doesn't sound like it should.

Would you be willing to try another one of Linda Stephens’s performances?

I have listened to other books narrated by Ms. Stephens and they were fine. She was not the right person for this book, however. It should have been performed by a southerner. The whole gestalt is wrong. It is almost painful to listen to. I really wish I had listened to the sample first.

Any additional comments?

Please, southern narrators for southern books. That goes for any book that has a definite identity with a country or area of a country, not just the south.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Great Memoir, Disappointing Narrator

Any additional comments?

This was a really lovely memoir, but I so, so wish that it had been read by Lee Smith herself. This narrator does not capture the warm southern accent that Smith has, and instead it feels forced and unappealing. Also, it grated on my every nerve that she pronounced Appalachian "appa-lay-shun." It seems like a huge oversight that the narrator of an Appalachian memoir wouldn't pronounce it "appa-latch-un," as is fairly universally considered the correct pronunciation, not to mention how Smith herself pronounces it. I'd say read this one but skip the audiobook!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Enjoyed

Loved it but wish reader had been Lee or a Southerner to be more realistic.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Debbie
  • Spring Branch, TX, United States
  • 03-30-16

Much loved by a long time reader

I didn't realize this wasn't another novel when I saw it pop up. What a pleasant surprise to hear the life story of one of my favorite authors. Hearing about the places and experiences that inspired her wonderful books was a treat. I laughed and cried all weekend listening.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Pronunce the names like the locals do.

What would have made Dimestore better?

A reader from the region, or at least the South.

Has Dimestore turned you off from other books in this genre?

No, couldn't stand to finish listening because of the way the narrator butchered the pronunciation of Appalachia.

What didn’t you like about Linda Stephens’s performance?

Her clear lack of connection to the material, as evidenced by her mispronunciation of Appalachian names & localities.

Any additional comments?

When a book's place & setting are this crucial to the content and meaning of the book, get a narrator who is from the area.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Wandering

Did not enjoy- too random and stream of conscience rambly. Hard to follow thought process. Story has good potential but the telling is a big snoozer.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Janet
  • Pittsboro, NC, United States
  • 06-18-18

Did not like the narrator.

Though Lee Smith has reached her seventies, she has a wonderful gentile Southern accent that sounds much younger. The narrator sounded like an old lady from New York.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Inside the writer’s life

If you’ve loved Lee Smith’s writing as I have, then you’ll truly enjoy reading these stories / essays about her life growing up in Grundy, VA, and in Chapel Hill and Hillsborough, North Carolina.
An only child, her father suffered bouts of depression, and her mother was “kindly nervous”, and both were hospitalized numerous times and then she would be taken in by other relatives. During that era, hospitalization for mental illness / depression was difficult and not talked about. But Ms. Smith shares openly. It’s heartbreakingly sweet. The stories about her father’s business, the Dimestore, reminded me of my youth. Be sure and go to her personal website for photos of the Dimestore and Grundy. The stories devoted to her youth and family made me feel like I was porch sittin’ right there with her.
Ms. Smith also shared stories about her marriages, and about her son’s battle with schizophrenia, and his death at age 33. After a year of grieving, a doctor told her he could fix this, and wrote her a prescription: “Write two hours every day”. Thank goodness, because we then got to read On Agate Hill. There were many insights into her other books as well. I think I’ll go back and re-read Fair and Tender Ladies, my favorite Lee Smith book, and see how it feels now that I’ve read Dimestore.
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