Born in Illinois in a “parsonage-bred” family, author Marjorie Hudson graduated from American University and eventually acquired an MFA in Creative Writing from Warren Wilson College. She moved to New York City in the ’60s during the height of the “hippie movement.”
More attracted to the outdoors, however, she found her way to North Carolina in 1984, renting on the spur of the moment an old farmhouse near Siler City, where she tried her hand at organic farming, writing short stories, nature articles and poetry. She settled as an “Accidental Bird from the North” in a community where life histories and food are generously shared and where, when you meet a stranger on the road, you raise one finger in the air as a greeting, but not the middle finger.
Readers can find out more in the first of eight stories (The Clearing) in her recently published bundle: “Accidental Birds of the Carolinas”. It is all about countryside hardships, frequently frozen water pipes in the winter and a reliably returning plumber named Whiskey who serves on and off as her pipe dream.
As Ms. Hudson read some passages of her work recently at Carolina Meadows, it became clear why some critics have compared her to Canadian author Alice Munro. She writes with the same incisiveness and deep undercurrents. There is hurt and nostalgia in the story “Home,” about a woman not able to win the affection of her stepchild who comes for a visit. That same pain becomes clear in the more novella-length story “The Outside World”, where the birth of a Down-Syndrome child creates a deep rift in the parental relationship.
A theme well-known in our own community is preoccupation with the end of life without talking openly about it. In the title story of this bundle, a recently retired couple from the North has moved to a sheltered community in the South. The wife is lapping it up: fewer duties, more parties, new contacts, while the husband feels bewildered and lost without his usual routines. She fusses over his heart condition after he had a mild heart attack, nags him about following doctor’s orders to stop running and taking up walking instead. He balks, runs secretly, turning off his cell phone, all the while thinking about his former running mate who got a heart attack and is now in a vegetative state under constant supervision. As is often the case in real life, scenarios change.
The picture on the front cover of the book is the strikingly beautiful creation of artist Emma Skurnick, who lives in Bynum on the banks of the Haw River. It shows the head of a “flower child,” festooned with colorful songbirds that are nesting in her straw/braids/hair. The woman’s head is crowned with a nest of super-sized eggs, ready to hatch into the wonderful stories of this volume, we assume.
Keep an eye on this gifted author. She might soon hatch a new batch of stories.
From resident Public Relations Committee member Jonny Prins