UNC Professor Florence Dore’s latest book “Novel Sounds: Southern Fiction in the Age of Rock and Roll” is exactly what happens when an English professor marries a musician.
What began as a book on Southern fiction evolved as Dore discovered how novelists like William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor influenced and were influenced by rock and roll music.
“That Flannery O’Connor story, ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find,’ is based on a popular song from the 1920s that was a hit by Bessie Smith called ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find,’" Dore said. "What should we make of that? I started looking to see who had made arguments about it or tried to understand the story through that lens — and the answer was nobody, which I found really surprising.”
Dore will conduct a musical reading Sunday at Flyleaf Books. Her selected readings will highlight the role of Southern novels and the emergence of rock and roll in the 1950s.Dore’s inquiry into her book’s topic took her beyond traditional research. She listened to rock and roll music and went on tour with her husband, musician Will Rigby, and his band, the dB’s.
“Talking to all these musicians, it was actually a de facto oral history that I was getting, and I didn’t really realize it until I actually started to put pen to paper,” Dore said.
Dore’s “new form of the rock novel” provides a history of rock and roll and an analysis of Southern novels – and her reading at Flyleaf Books will include both.Amanda Ibarra, manager of events at Flyleaf Books, said the audience can expect some surprises at Sunday’s event. Amid countless music and nonfiction books, Dore’s “Novel Sounds” is a unique take on both.
“The book is really a look at how music and literature coincide and work together to form somewhat of an alternate genre of writing.” Ibarra said. “There’s a lot of evidence of a tradition of that.”
Dore’s reading is one of nearly 300 events that Flyleaf Books hosts a year, all showcasing authors and books from a variety of genres.
Jamie Fiocco, owner of Flyleaf Books, said the store promises open doors and a place of non-judgement for everyone who attends.
“Part of our mission is to make information available on a wide variety of topics so people can make up their own minds as to what their opinions are” Fiocco said. “I take pride in hosting all manner of speakers so people can be exposed to what these folks have to say.”