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Edgerton entertains with songs as well as stories

By Hugh Fisher
hfisher@salisburypost.com
CONCORD ó Novelist Clyde Edgerton finished a weekend visit to Cabarrus County with a reading and concert at the Davis Theatre in the historic Cabarrus Courthouse.
Edgerton’s novel “Walking Across Egypt” was the Cabarrus County Library’s pick for their first-ever One Book, One Community project.
Book clubs at Cabarrus library branches read and discussed the novel, which focuses on Mattie Rigsbee, an older woman who befriends a wayward young man in need of love and support.
Old Courthouse Theatre performed the stage version of Edgerton’s story.
And Edgerton himself hosted a writing workshop at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College Friday and a book signing at the Concord library Saturday.
“It’s rewarding and an honor to have people make a fuss over something you put together,” said Edgerton.
A North Carolina native, Edgerton’s career has been built on novels about unique southern people and communities.
“People from rural areas who have mothers and grandmothers that grew up in the Depression, who are frugal, who love to cook for people ó I think people identify with that character,” he said.
“You relate to all the people that either remind you of yourself or friends,” said Martha Macon, who read the book recently and came to see Edgerton in person.
She’s especially fond of Mattie, the main character. “She’s a great cook. She does all the things I don’t,” she said.
Macon was pleased to see so many people she recognized from towns around the area. “I think it’s marvelous that we’ve got all the municipalities in Cabarrus County doing this,” she said.
At the Davis Theatre, Edgerton joined his Rank Strangers Band ó pianist Mike Craver, guitarist Jack King and bassist Matt Kendrick ó for a night of storytelling and song.
Edgerton read from “Walking Across Egypt” and his latest novel, “The Bible Salesman,” as well as humorous essays on fatherhood and the economy.
And he and his band performed a mix of music: humorous songs written by Edgerton mixed with southern favorites, including “Man of Constant Sorrow,” “I’ll Fly Away” and “Will The Circle Be Unbroken?”
The sellout crowd at Davis Theatre clapped and sang along. Concord Mayor Scott Padgett, who presented Edgerton with a key to the city at Friday’s performance at the Old Courthouse Theatre, said the author’s visit was welcome after a week of tension and bad news.
“This is a time for people to get their minds off the bad news,” Padgett said.
“I can tell you that having a famous author visit your town and having all the activities that they have held has been very good for our community,” he said.
And in times when a good laugh is needed more than ever, Edgerton said he appreciates fiction’s ability to make people laugh and think ó one reason why his stories seem to have lasting appeal.
“I think that underneath every story there is an element of fear and hope,” Edgerton said.
“Real fear and real hope engage people’s imaginations and memories. And there’s a sense in which we have nothing but memories.”

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