Beth Macy is now a New York Times best-selling author, but she says she’ll always consider herself a product of Urbana and its school system.
“Urbana is just a great place, and it was a great place to grow up and go to school,” said Macy, who graduated from Urbana High School in 1982. “I always look forward to coming back there and seeing old friends.”
The Roanoke, Va., resident will be returning to Urbana again on Tuesday, Nov. 29 for a book signing of her latest tome, “Truevine” (Little, Brown and Company. $28).
She will be appearing at the Sara Landess Room in the Urbana University Student Center at 7 p.m.
When she returned to Urbana a few years ago to sign copies of her first book, “Factory Man,” the crowd at the Champaign County Library was overflowing.
“I couldn’t believe how many people were there, and how many people I recognized from when I was growing up,” she said. “I told my husband that it was so crowded it was like going to my funeral, but I wasn’t dead.”
In “Truevine,” Macy – called by one literary website “the consummate chronicler of the American South” – tells the story of African-American albino brothers who were enslaved in the circus as a sideshow at the turn of the 20th century.
“It’s about the Jim Crow South, and it seems like a weird, crazy story, but it’s not so crazy since that’s how the South was (circa 1900),” said Macy, who graduated from Bowling Green State University in 1986. “The book shows how hard it was for African-Americans at that time, and I think people today need to know this history.”
The book is based on a series of articles she co-authored in 2001 when she worked for The Roanoke Times.
The screen rights to Macy’s “Factory Man” were picked up by HBO, but she’s not sure when it will be telecast.
“All they tell me is that’s it’s in development,” she said. “They haven’t told me anything else about it.”
While she’s in town next week, she will also be doing what comes naturally for her … reporting.
“My next book is about the heroin epidemic, which I know is a big problem in Champaign County and other places around the country,” she said. “I’ve got some interviews lined up while I’m there.”
For more on Macy, go to her website, intrepidpapergirl.com.
Reach Steve Stout at 652-1331 (ext. 1776) or on Twitter @udcstout