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The explosive personal drama behind Thomas Wolfe's fiction





Thomas Wolfe: Home Again
A Play in Two Acts by William Gregg and Perry Deane Young

When Thomas Wolfe's first novel, Look Homeward, Angel, was published to rave reviews in October of 1929, he was universally hailed as a major literary figure. Everywhere, that is, except in his own hometown. Wolfe’s thinly disguised fiction had portrayed his family and other townspeople in brutally raw detail. One woman said they should drag his ugly carcass across the town square and tar and feather him. His beloved school teacher said, "You have devastated your own family, but you have crucified mine." This play examines the passionate drama in Wolfe's own life as he dealt with his editors and agents, his lover Aline Bernstein, and his mother and brothers and sisters. By the time Wolfe finally returned to his family in Asheville, N.C., he was hailed as a literary lion, a local hero. Instead of being reviled, the author of You Can't Go Home Again found himself smothered with praise. He had come home seeking a quiet place to work, but soon had to flee back "home" to New York. Less than a year later, the young author's life was cut short as the result of a brain tumor. He came home again one final time and was laid to rest in the town cemetery beside the real-life characters in his novels. A friend said, "Maybe now they will let him rest in peace."

Writing about the play in the Asheville Citizen-Times, Jim Cavener said: "Dramatic power is intense as the playwrights share little-known and mostly factual episodes in Wolfe's later life, the result of scholarly research."

Edla Cusick, author of the plays, Midnight Lunch and Austin, wrote after seeing the play: "Tom Wolfe continues to fascinate us - for his prodigious writing, for the work he would have done if he'd been granted a longer life and in my case, for his relationship with Aline Bernstein, my grandmother. Home Again is a play as ambitious as Tom himself, giving us a rich and full picture of his life. The play offers a generous, nuanced portrayal of Aline. Their love never died, it changed. It is a sympathetic view of their relationship, a fascinating play."

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Perry Deane Young is the author of nine books and the co-author of three plays. The books are: 1. Two of the Missing, Remembering Sean Flynn and Dana Stone, 1975, 2009; 2. The David Kopay Story, with David Kopay, 1977, 1988, 2000; 3. God’s Bullies, 1982; 4. A Killing Cure, with Evelyn Walker, 1986; 5. The Insider’s Guide to California, 1989; 6. Lesbians and Gays and Sports, 1994; 7. The Untold Story of Frankie Silver; 8. Hanged by a Dream; 9. Our Young Family. The plays, all written with William Gregg, are: 1. Frankie; 2. Mountain of Hope; 3. Thomas Wolfe: Home Again.

Born March 27, 1941 on a hilltop farm in Woodfin just north of Asheville, NC, Perry Deane Young is the lone survivor of 13 siblings. His parents were Robert Finley and Rheba Maphry Tipton Young. He graduated from Woodfin Low School and Erwin High School. Although he entered UNC at Chapel Hill in the fall of 1959, he did not graduate until December of 1993. He had spent the intervening years rambling about the globe as a reporter or just rambling on his own.

Starting out on the Durham Morning Herald in 1962, Young dropped out of college to cover the 1963 NC legislature for UPI. In 1967, he went to work for UPI in New York. He was assigned to the Saigon bureau and arrived there the night the Tet Offensive began in January of 1968. He covered the fighting in Saigon, Danang, Khe Sanh and Hue during that offensive and afterwards.

After Vietnam, Young worked for the New York Post in New York, serving briefly in the Middle East, covering a highjacking in Jordan and the funeral of President Nasser in Egypt.

Leaving Newspapering behind, Young wrote freelance articles for Harper’s, Rolling Stone, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Saturday Review, and other publications.

Returning home to Chapel Hill in 1993, he wrote a weekly column for several years first for the Chapel Hill Herald and then for the Chapel Hill News. For more than a year, the column was also published in the Asheville Citizen-Times. Since July 4, 1993, Perry Deane Young has made his home in Chapel Hill, NC.



    Perry Deane Young is available to speak to school and civic groups about the many aspects of his long and varied career.



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