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Lawrence Naumoff is a novelist and instructor in the Creative Writing Program. He is the winner of a Whiting Award, a Thomas Wolfe award and many other literary
prizes. His novel, Taller Women, a cautionary tale, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year in 1992.
His current novel is about the Hamlet, North Carolina chicken plant fire of 1991. The fire exits had been locked by the owners to keep the workers from stealing. 26 workers died, and the tragedy captured the attention of the media as well as everyday citizens. A well-known photograph was taken of a set of kicked, soot-smudged footprints on the inside of a fire exit door.
The Night of the Weeping Women (1988)
Rootie Kazootie (1990)
Taller Women (1992)
Silk Hope, NC (1994)
A Plan for Women (1997)
A Southern Tragedy, in Crimson and Yellow (2005)
Chapter One excerpt from the novel:
A Southern Tragedy, in Crimson and Yellow
by Lawrence Naumoff
The town of Hamlet was near the towns of McColl, Cheraw, and Wagram, in the part of the state known as the Sandhills, just above the South Carolina line. The Pee Dee River (imagine Lumbee Indians in canoes, and eels and catfish in the tannin-stained water) flowed west of the town, behind the hospital and past the former home for unwed mothers, past the abandoned distillery, and past the abandoned ice cream truck where an old man once lived, a hermit called Buttercup. Wild plums, blackberries, and pokeweed grew along the banks of the river, and multiflora roses tangled beside the tracks of the Seaboard Air Line Railroad.
The river continued, away from Hamlet, through South Carolina and to the ocean, where it joined the Waccamaw just below Pawley's Island.
In the town itself, though, grounded and unflowing, there was a poultry processing plant, and it was because of that poultry plant that on a humid September day in 1991, people were bunched together in the streets the way that in old films entire populations congregated to watch the Martians land. The people watched the chicken plant burn. Smoke as streaked and creamy as melted Dreamsicles squeezed out from the eaves of the flat-roofed building like crimson genies from an old Disney cartoon.