|From Landscapes of the Heart: A Documentary about Spencer|
If you're interested in casual elegance, and a 93-year-old woman who's as with-it as most 50-year-olds, then to turn on North Carolina Bookwatch at noon on UNC-TV this Sunday for host D.G. Martin's interview with prize-winning novelist and short story writer Elizabeth Spencer of Chapel Hill.
Her latest collection, "Starting Over," won the Rea Award for the Short Story last spring. The prize carries a $30,000 cash award, and Spencer told me she used some of the money to upgrade her garden.
Spencer is a native of Carrollton, Miss., and when she was a student at Belhaven College in Jackson, Miss., she met Eudora Welty, who lived across the street from the school. Welty joined with Spencer and a few other students to form a small writing group. Spencer and Welty became lifelong friends.
Spencer is also the author of the novella, "Light in the Piazza," later made into the 1960 film of the same name starring Olivia de Haviland.
Of "Starting Over," Malcolm Jones reviewing it in January in the New York Times, said, "Elizabeth Spencer seems to have spent her life watching, observing, always paying close attention, and for her it’s the whole truth or nothing. As far as I can tell, she never missed a thing. Judging from the stories in her latest collection, she’s not about to start now."