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Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006 by

Author Mark Ethridge offers some notes from the road while he’s been touring with his new book, Grievances:

For several months I’ve been on a tour for my novel, Grievances, which came out in May. I was excited getting into it but I figured that by now–roughly appearance number 40 of 60 or so–it would become tiresome, repetitive.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. At literally every stop, whether bookstore signing or major presentation, I’ve been surprised and delighted by��meeting new and��old friends, by learning some forgotten family history,��by making the acquaintance of other writers, or by just hearing other people’s stories.

An example occurred recently outside of Chapel Hill.

I’d arrived a little early for my talk and signing at McIntyre’s Bookshop and decided to drive by my late grandparents’ spectacular home and grounds overlooking the Rocky River south of town. The roads had changed��since I’d been there last, more than 20 years before, after my grandparents, Mark and Willie Snow Ethridge, had died. Thankfully, my grandmother’s huge but delicate Japanese gate still��made��the entrance unmistakable. I couldn’t resist driving up the long, wooded driveway.

The house was just as it had been when they had lived there. I could see through the floor-to-ceiling glass walls that a grand piano sat right where my grandmother’s had decades before. I decided to knock on the door.

After apologizing for interrupting, I was warmly greeted by a very nice man named Dr. Fred Sparling and his��lovely wife ��Joyce who had owned the house for many years. They knew exactly who I was, still referred to the house as “The Ethridge House” and, in fact had collected stories about my grandparents and the famous visitors they welcomed to the home. Mrs. Sparling even had a shelf of the books written by my grandmother.

We enjoyed a brief but wonderful visit as they showed me the house and we shared stories. I mentioned I hoped the book event wouldn’t last too long because I wanted to get home to listen to football on the Internet.

“What team?” he asked.

“Princeton. My son ��is the class of 2010 and ��plays defensive tackle.”

He stuck out his hand. “Class of 1958.”

Forty-five minutes later, the Sparlings showed up at my book signing. We plan to get together again soon.

Author Mark Ethridge is himself a Class of 1971 graduate from Princeton. His book, Grievances,�� is now�� available�� from NewSouth Books, Amazon.com, or your favorite local or online book��retailer.

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