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Arts & Culture

The Un-Secret Secret Of North Carolina

Rare Bird Books

Author John Russell calls the 1898 Wilmington Massacre an “un-secret secret.” While there has recently been some renewed focus and attention on the racial massacre and its historical consequences, this ugly chapter in North Carolina’s history was largely unacknowledged just decades ago.

Part of that time period  — the 1990s — is the backdrop for Russell’s latest novel “All the Right Circles” (Rare Bird Books/2019). Protagonist Jack Callahan, an attorney, is dealing with the dissolution of his marriage, a mother in crisis and a professional dilemma. A major Wall Street firm is trying to take over one of his clients: North Carolina’s family-owned newspaper. After Jack learns about the deeper history of the business and its ties with white supremacy in the state, he begins to wonder whether it is an institution worth saving.

Host Frank Stasio talks to Russell about his interest in using fiction to examine the insiders and outsiders in the state’s political history and the role of the “un-secret secret” in 1990s Raleigh.

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