At library, Browning returns to roots

On Friday, April 9, the Rappahannock Association for Arts and the Community (RAAC) welcomes author Preston Browning as featured speaker for the RAAC Friday at the Library Series.

Having grown up in the Culpeper-Rappahannock area (his parents hailed from Rappahannock County) and gone on to teach English at the University of Illinois at Chicago for more than 30 years, Browning has found time in retirement to give full run to his passion for writing and has recently released an account of his own experiences entitled: “Affection and Estrangement: A Southern Family Memoir.”

“Although I did not set out to write a book that might allow me to experience a catharsis similar to that which might have been the result of creating a novel, I have discovered that in the process of writing about the South of my youth as well as the older, more traditional South, much has been revealed to me about myself,” Browning said.

“Though this book began as an effort to present one Southern family in as much of its complexity as I could manage, it has become, in a quite real sense, an effort to understand the South – the the land that formed me — and to understand myself.

“Thus I end with an affirmation: Any inclination I have to highlight the negative aspects of my Southern upbringing is inevitably balanced by memories of gentleness, kindness and a generosity of spirit revealed by countless individuals, both black and white, whose lives intersected with mine during my formative years. Many of those individuals contributed greatly to the self I became and, for good or for ill, that self cannot imagine describing itself as anything but Southern.”

Browning and his wife, Ann, have four grown children and now live in Ashfield, Mass., where they manage Wellspring House, a retreat center for writers and artists.

Please join us at the Rappahannock County Library at 8 p.m. April 9 to meet Browning and to hear more about the Rappahannock County he experienced growing up in the 1930s and 1940s.

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