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Author Ernest J. Gaines Starts New Season of “Appalachian Perspective”

BOONE — The 2001-02 season of “Appalachian Perspective,” the cable television show of Appalachian State University, begins with an interview with acclaimed writer Ernest J. Gaines.

The episode titled “A Conversation with Ernest J. Gaines” runs Sept. 25 through Oct. 19 on Charter Communications’ Channel 39 weekdays at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., and Channel 2 Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. The show airs at various times on MTN, as well as cable outlets in Raleigh, Winston-Salem, Newport, Kannapolis, Charlotte and Hickory.

The 30-minute program is hosted by Chancellor Francis T. Borkowski.

Gaines, author of “A Lesson Before Dying” and “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,” says segregation prevented him from entering the public library in his Louisiana hometown, but a move to California at age 15 opened new opportunities for him.

“For the first time I saw books and books and books, and I just started reading and reading,” he says.

“I realized I was looking for me in those books, but I was not in those books. There were no books by or about African-Americans then,” he continues.

That’s when Gaines decided to become a writer. “But I wanted to write only about the people I’d known in Louisiana, my own little section of the world,” he says.

Gaines’ stories offer readers a chance to examine issues of community, race, and class. He is writer-in-residence at the University of Louisiana ? Lafayette. “A Lesson Before Dying” has received many honors, including a nomination for a Pulitzer Prize and several Best in Fiction awards. In 1997 it was an “Oprah’s Book Club” selection.