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Poster for "Saint Matthew in Appalachia

"Saint Matthew in Appalachia"


Joseph Maiolo photo by Diana S. Phillips (2011)
". . . I start the walk home. There has been a small accumulation of snow, and it is cold enough for more. I pull the collar of my mackinaw up over my ears and push my hands deep into the pockets. The last of the cars leaving Saint Veronica's are moving out of sight. The town is ringed with mountains I cannot see but know are there because clusters of stars end where the sky stops in a jagged line all around. The back way home is soon too dark, so I cut over to Main Street. I have five straight, empty blocks ahead of me."

- Excerpt from "Saint Matthew in Appalachia"

For nearly a decade, UMD has celebrated December with a reading by Professor Joseph Maiolo. This year, he will read one of his own works, the short story, "Saint Matthew in Appalachia," on Friday, December 16, at 3 pm, in the Weber Music Hall at UMD. The event is free and open to the public. For information, contact the English Department, 218-726-8228.

Set just after World War II, the fictional Virginia town is similar to Norton, Virginia, where Maiolo was raised. The story is peopled with a cast of characters that include residents in the town, friends and strangers. The narrator, a boy who isn’t named in the story, lives with his Italian grandmother in an apartment above a store on Main Street. Her character is based on Maiolo's own grandmother, he said. While the story is fiction, Maiolo admits that, “it is close to the bone.”

UMD Professor of English Joseph Maiolo was born in West Virginia, raised in the Cumberland Mountains of southwestern Virginia, and has degrees from the University of Virginia (M.A.), the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (M.F.A.), and the United States Naval Academy (B.S.). His short stories have been published in The Sewanee Review, Ploughshares, Shenandoah, other magazines, and anthologies. Several of his stories and a novella have won national awards, including citation in The Best American Short Stories, a Pushcart Prize, three PEN/Syndicated Fiction Awards (two of the three stories read on National Public Radio), and two National Endowment for the Arts Literary Fellowships. Maiolo's work has also received a 1999 Bush Artist Fellowship and a Loft-McKnight Award of Distinction in Fiction. "The Girl and the Serpent," an excerpt from his memoir in progress, was published in 2001 by Beacon Press in Resurrecting Grace: Remembering Catholic Childhoods.

Written by Cheryl Reitan, December 2011, with additional text by Christiana Kapsner and Kathleen McQuillan-Hofmann

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