|St. Dale Reviews, Interviews/Articles and Press Releases
Taking the High Road:
A NASCAR driver devotes his life to saving the land
by Sharyn McCrumb
Featured in "Verve Magazine," this feature discusses Ward Burton's efforts to preserve land and habitat in Southside Virginia. (download article)
August 1, 2005
Why Was Dale Earnhardt Special?
by Ron Green Sr. of the Charlotte Observer
I'm reading "St. Dale," Sharyn McCrumb's novel about a bus trip called the Dale Earnhardt Memorial Pilgrimage. In it, McCrumb has one of her characters raise a question that I have pondered on and off for years. (read complete article)
by John M. Formy-Duval, for Contemporary Literature
If you read the reviews on this site regularly, there is a good chance that you read the Canterbury Tales at some point. You may even be familiar with other "frame" tales. You probably know the story of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. This "meddlesome priest" was murdered in the cathedral and quickly became a cult figure in the Middle Ages. You know that Chaucer's pilgrims (common, everyday people) were headed to Canterbury to pay their respects and decided to tell stories to entertain themselves along the way. All this happened 900 years ago. Can it be modernized, and what would be the appropriate venue?
Read Complete Review
Out of My Head - For We Sinners, Our ‘St. Dale’ Came to
Save Us Just in Time
by Jan Hearne, Press Tempo Editor, Johnson City Press, April 3, 2005
If Chaucer Had Written Tales About NASCAR
by Dorman Shindler, Special to The Denver Post, March 13, 2005
Download this review of "St. Dale," by Dorman Shindler, a freelance writer from Missouri and a regular contributor to several magazines and newspapers.
February 22, 2005
Novelist McCrumb Discusses First National NASCAR-based Novel
New York Times best-selling author Sharyn McCrumb discusses the whys – and the success – of her newly-released novel, the first national novel based on NASCAR fans and the NASCAR lifestyle. Ms. McCrumb wrote St. Dale (ISBN: 0-7582-0776-X; Kensington Publishing Corp.; $25.00), the story of a modern-day group of racing fans on an “Earnhardt pilgrimage” to the Southeast speedways from Tennessee to Florida. It is published by Kensington Publishing Corporation of New York.
Veteran racing observers have anticipated the novel, many feeling it is another indication of the growth of the sport into the mainstream of American culture. NASCAR racing has grown tremendously among sports fans but has just recently shown signs of becoming a larger phenomenon.
Ms. McCrumb, a Virginia writer best known for her Appalachian "Ballad" novels, including New York Times Best Sellers She Walks These Hills and The Rosewood Casket has based her new novel on another Southern tradition: stock car racing.
Hear Sharyn's Comments (mp3)
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Williams Company of America, Inc. (704) 660-0796
What Readers are Telling Sharyn McCrumb
“Sharyn, Just finished your book! A must read for all NASCAR Fans and a great gift for those folks you want to 'turn on' to NASCAR. And if you're not careful...you just might learn something about NASCAR, no matter your NASCAR expertise. A very enjoyable read.”
--Terry Mason NASCAR TALK "the Nextel Cup Show"
“Well I now know far more about NASCAR than I expected I'd ever learn. Thank you for a nice read. You made me late to work yesterday because I'd reached the end of lunch hour before I got to the end of the last chapter -- I decided that late was better than unfulfilled.”
“Thank you for sharing your latest tale, I have been a long-time reader of your stories. Reading a review in the paper on St Dale (before I read the book), I thought how courageous of you to write about something on which there would be no lack of opinions and emotions, but after reading the book, I will say, you handled it wonderfully. I also thought it a departure from you other writings, especially the ballad stories, but again, after reading it, I realized it was not so different after all.”
“I'm just finishing St Dale and wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed the book. I'm an avid reader of everything from science fiction to mystery to non-fiction, but i seldom contact authors. Rarely have I read a story where you can feel the care with which the author has fleshed out her characters. Thank you for writing this novel.”
“I love all your books, so when I saw your name on St Dale, it is the only reason I read it. I don't give a hoot about car racing. You did it proud, as you always do. A wonderful book, I felt so connected to all the characters. You made me appreciate their love for their sport. Good job Sharyn, keep it up. You are a pleasure to read.”
|“I had a chance to see you last night. What I would have liked to have told you is that while I can honestly say I will never be a NASCAR fan, I came away with a great level of respect and understanding for everyone tied to the sport. I used to roll my eyes when I first moved down south and I saw the portable "NASCAR shrines" so many people seem to have in the back of their cars. If you don't understand the culture it's easy to dismiss it. Your name on the cover alone is what convinced me to pick up and read St. Dale. Your book treated all of the characters with such a level of respect and you covered the subject in such depth that my whole outlook was changed by proxy. Thank you.”
“Dear Sharyn, I have loved your books for many years -- but I am not a sports person, so instead of buying St. Dale, I checked it out of the library, knowing I could NEVER get through a book about racing --I WAS WRONG! I LOVED EVERY MOMENT OF ST. DALE. I laughed, I cried, I was deeply touched. It truly takes a master writer to elicit that response from an aesthete -- you are definitely a master -- I salute you.”
--PatReviews of St. Dale
“Sharyn McCrumb is not only the first legitimate author to try a novel around the NASCAR lifestyle, she will always be remembered as the first to do it creditably. NASCAR racing is not a sport as much as a lifestyle - among competitors but also among fans. This is the first novel that recognizes that, and translates it into an incredibly enjoyable read. St. Dale is a novel that could very well be true, and Sharyn McCrumb tells the story like no one ever has. ”
--Kyle Petty, NASCAR Nextel Cup driver
and founder of Victory Junction Camp
“A heartfelt tribute to a lifelong friend.”
--Junior Johnson, Legendary NASCAR driver
“Three thumbs up! In ST. DALE Sharyn McCrumb takes us on a stock car racing pilgrimage that is at once hilarious, spiritual, moving, even a little spooky, and most importantly respectful of the sport and its fans.”
--Jerry Bledsoe, author of
“The World's Number One, Flat Out,
All-Time Great Stock Car Racing Book”
“…this book of moments is required reading for anybody who still mourns Number Three – or who wonders what the fuss is about.”
“In a daring departure from her award-winning Ballad novels, Sharyn McCrumb takes us on a magical memorial bus tour into the world of NASCAR and the canonization of the legendary stock car driver Dale Earnhardt. The novel is a triumphant joy throughout, a Canterbury Tales with speed. ”
--Evan Hunter (Ed McBain)
New York Times Best Selling Author
“Sharyn McCrumb is a powerful novelist. She has assembled a marvelous collection of characters, and all their stories are marvelous as well. Yet everything comes together as a novel that is full of magic and laughter, wonder and love.”
--Orson Scott Card,
New York Times Bestselling Author and
Winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards
“God has always had a habit of showing up in the most unlikely places. Putting the Mystery in the NASCAR circuit is a stroke of genius, a crude and creative modernization of a very old story. St. Dale brings that truth home in full force. It is an earthy tale full of unearthly events. Miracles mix with the dust of every day life and remind us that we can see the Divine anywhere, it we are willing to look.”
--Barbara Hall, Producer of the TV series
“Judging Amy” and “Joan of Arcadia”
“Filled with cultural insights and memorable characters, this novel is a wild ride through the very heart of America. Funny, smart, full of NASCAR, St. Dale is a must read . I loved it! This is a bus trip you don't want to miss. ”
--Lee Smith author of
“The Last Girls”
With St. Dale, Author Sharyn McCrumb Can Add
NASCAR Fans to Her Admirers
There can be no debate that Dale Earnhardt was the biggest star in the NASCAR universe up until his untimely death on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. Even in death, his souvenirs continue to outsell all other drivers except Jeff Gordon and Earnhardt's son, Dale Jr. That is a true testament to Earnhardt Sr.'s staying power among the race track faithful.
But in the grand scheme of things, his death opened the door for NASCAR to ascend to a level of awareness that its founding fathers never envisioned. While Earnhardt simply won races that resulted in seven NASCAR championships, the intensity of his followers' devotion was well known inside the sport. To the mainstream media, he was just another crazy race car driver from the South.
Upon his death, Time, Newsweek, The New York Times and the network evening news shows suddenly paid attention to Earnhardt and the sport in which he competed. That fateful crash on the banks of Daytona opened the eyes of everyday Americans and NASCAR never would be the same.
All of that may well explain why Sharyn McCrumb, a well known author of Appalachian "ballad" novels, made Earnhardt the subject of her newest book, St. Dale. Nothing in McCrumb's history suggests that she could handle a book built around the genre of stock car racing, but you don't have to turn many pages to find out that she has done an enormous amount of research and done it well.
The producers of the ESPN made-for-television movie 3 would have been well served by McCrumb's penchant for detail. She not only knows the basics of the sport but she also reveals a lot of information typically available only to members of NASCAR's inner circle.
The premise of the book is interesting from the beginning. A Dale Earnhardt Memorial Tour has been arranged to give fans insight into the life and legend of the sport's most popular driver. Led by a fictitious NASCAR "has been" driver, Harley Claymore, the tour begins at The Sharpie 500 in Bristol and winds its way through NASCAR territory before ending in Daytona Beach, FL.
Claymore leads this band of "Number 3" pilgrims on a modern-day version of The Canterbury Tales. Traveling through the Southeast heading for a shrine, they pay homage the foremost saint in their lives, St. Dale, better known as "The Intimidator."
The 13 (that's all the Bristol tickets the tour organizers could get their hands on) tour members are a diverse group ranging from an Episcopal priest to a young stockbroker from New York who inherited his spot when his father died. The interaction between the characters, some of whom are named after prominent Tri-Cities citizens, is well crafted and holds the reader's attention.
McCrumb is a master at establishing her characters' personalities early on and then building on that foundation with twists and turns that make the conclusion of the book and the relationship between the characters interesting to the last page.
My only problem was deciding to which group to recommend St. Dale. It serves as a terrific NASCAR primer for people uninitiated with the sport but die-hard race fans will like it, too. You don't even have to be a fan of Earnhardt, Sr. to enjoy McCrumb's work. I believe the book will be of interest to anyone who religiously follows NASCAR or to the individual who just wants some insight into the attraction of 43 drivers and their machines careening around speedways at high speeds.
Truthfully, as well crafted as St. Dale is, the setting is secondary. The characters infuse the book with an energy that will make it enjoyable for anyone. McCrumb certainly can add the NASCAR fan base to her group of admirers.
About the Reviewer:
Jeff Byrd is the president and general manager of Bristol Motor Speedway. A 30-year veteran of the motorsports industry, Byrd previously worked for The Winston-Salem Journal as a sportswriter after graduating from Wake Forest University. He then worked for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company where he interacted with all the NASCAR drivers, including Dale Earnhardt, Sr., for 12 years.
These pilgrims walk in Dale's tire tracks
by Pat MacEnulty, The Charlotte Observer, January 30, 2005
Speedway Saint: The Intimidator takes his place as an American icon
by Ann Wicker, Creative Loafing Charlotte, February 2, 2005
|Interviews and Articles
The Mountains: My Hopes
by Sharyn McCrumb, Blue Ridge Country, March/April 2005
Autographs Nothing New For Burton But Location Is Different
reported by Martinsville Speedway, February 1, 2005
Book Lovers and Racing Fans in the Same Lane
by David Harrison, February 1, 2005
Book about Dale Earnhardt fans draws eclectic group to store.
Novelist Shifts Gears to NASCAR
by Sam Hodges, Book Editor of The Charlotte Observer, January 30, 2005
Read how in research for "St. Dale" the author became a new fan. Download PDF
Download "Ghost Racers: Bestselling Author Meets Homeboy Saint" by Ann Wicker
(pdf file) from Creative Loafing (Charlotte, NC) October 20,2004 edition.
“First Major NASCAR Novel Hits Stores Feb. 1,” dated January 31, 2005
Download (MSWord format 23KB) or (PDF file 9KB)
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