Author’s Visit a Coup For Duffy

An author, whose critically-acclaimed new novel is set near Wheeling, is coming to the city for a special edition of the Lunch With Books series at the Ohio County Public Library.

Jaimy Gordon, author of “Lord of Misrule,” will visit the library in Wheeling to talk about her book at noon Monday, March 28. Patrons will note that the Monday session is a day earlier than the regular Tuesday Lunch With Books program.

After weeks of trying, library staff member Sean Duffy, who coordinates the Lunch With Books series, got word from Gordon’s publicist that she would be able to appear. It’s quite a coup for Duffy, who has a banner crop of authors and presenters scheduled to participate in the Lunch With Books program this year.

Gordon, who teaches at Western Michigan University, won the National Book Award in the fiction category for “Lord of Misrule.” The New York Times reported, “The novel, about the ruthless world of horse racing in West Virginia, was praised by the judges as a ‘vivid, memorable and linguistically rich novel.”‘

According to the National Book Foundation’s website, “‘Lord of Misrule’ follows five characters – scarred and lonely dreamers in the American grain -through a year and four races at Indian Mound Downs, downriver from Wheeling, West Virginia.”

As a young woman, Gordon worked at the horse racing track in Charles Town and became familiar with other racetracks through her association with groomers and trainers. The author’s sister, Hilry Gordon, lives in Wallace in eastern Wetzel County. In interviews, the author has said that she became familiar with the Ohio Valley while visiting her sister.

Despite praise from critics, Gordon’s new novel was shut out of contention recently for the National Book Critics Circle awards. The Associated Press reported that none of the fiction nominees for the National Book Award, including winner “Lord of Misrule,” was chosen for the critics circle prize.

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The smaller of the two Wheeling-made Hobbs, Brockunier chandeliers from the former Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy has been installed successfully in the Wheeling Room of West Virginia Independence Hall in downtown Wheeling.

The Hobbs, Brockunier chandelier, which was donated to the hall by concerned area residents, is scheduled to be dedicated later this month in memory of the late Beverly Fluty, a Wheeling historian who was a driving force behind the restoration of the hall and its designation as a National Historic Landmark.

At present, though, the extended Fluty family’s thoughts are centered on concerns for the safety of Holly Fluty Dempsey, daughter of Bill Fluty of Wheeling and his late wife, who lives and works in Cairo, Egypt. Holly, who grew up in Wheeling and graduated from Mount de Chantal, works for the U.S. Agency for International Development in Egypt. An article in Friday’s editions of The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register recounted her experiences over the past week in that dangerous part of the world.

On top of that worry, Bill Fluty had to undergo a heart procedure earlier in the week and is now recuperating from that surgery.

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On a totally different note: Go, Steelers!

Linda Comins can be reached via e-mail at: