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In Conversation with John & Rowe Carenen

March 15 @ 5:30 pm - 6:30 pm

Join us on Wednesday, March 15th at 5:30 pm for an In Conversation event with father and daughter authors John & Rowe Carenen!

They’ll be chatting about both of their books, Keeping To Himself: a novel by John Carenen and First Drafts from the Brewery by Rowe Carenen.

We’re very excited to have them in store with us and can’t wait to hear all about their writing processes, what inspires them, and ask them questions about their books.

So don’t miss out on this free event!


Keeping to Himself: a novel by John Carenen – Deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, Whit Coombs seeks peace, quiet, and healing. Scarred spiritually by the death of his wife, who died cursing him for not euthanizing her, and physically from an IED in Iraq, he just wants a simple life in his cabin by a lake, miles from a hard road. Then, on a nighttime hike, he witnesses a grisly murder and finds himself with a dilemma: report the crime and lose his privacy-and maybe his life-or let the killers get away with it. As the killers and the attractive female county sheriff get closer to discovering what he saw, he realizes that maybe Keeping to Himself won’t give him the peace he needs.


“After witnessing a murder, a loner struggles to retain his precious solitude in this novel.

Whit Coombs revels in the privacy his isolated cabin affords. Carenen fills the backdrop with glorious scenery. Whit basks in the seasonal colors of sassafras trees, sugar maples, and wind-blown leaves that fall like “little orange-and-red tornados.”

A gripping, character-driven thriller with alluring landscapes.”

— Kirkus Reviews, praise for KEEPING TO HIMSELF

“In John Carenen’s taut and exquisitely paced novel, Keeping to Himself, Whit Coombs’ self-imposed isolation is quickly and violently interrupted one dark night beneath flashes of white-hot lightning, “as if God were taking crime scene photos.” A powerful tale of revenge and redemption soon emerges, unfurling effortlessly like a spring thunderstorm through the coves and hollows of the book’s setting in the Blue Ridge Mountains. From prologue to epilogue, Carenen’s deft touch with the nuances of character and the specificity of place blanket his prose with a rare and wonderful honesty. Keeping to Himself is a worthy addition to the very best of Appalachian noir, but make no mistake: this is also a story of love, a story of salvation. And ultimately, Carenen’s novel is about revelation…about discovering that true healing might arrive when you least expect it.

— Scott Gould author of Whereabouts and Things That Crash, Things That Fly


First Drafts from the Brewery by Rowe Carenen explores the ends, and beginnings, of relationships, the value of true-blue friends, and the delights of the seasons. Less a how-to guide to divorce, and more a long and lingering porch-chat complete with good beer or a strong whiskey, this collection embraces simplicity while staring down pain without flinching. But not to worry, there’s plenty of cats, puppies, and cozy blankets.


First Drafts from the Brewery is a book about repair, about what we do when the waters haven’t quite claimed us yet-that furtive in-the-meantime. “Grief,” our speaker says, “lives in my body.” But also in that body lies the psychic excavation of so many riches: confetti and PetSmart, Lemon Pledge and Elvis, resin. And in our grieving bodies we are kept such great company: land surveyors, Paul Simon, bad dates, grandparents, even famous writers. There lives inside these thoughtful and honest, observant poems an invoking familiarity. I used to love a song that asked: “Where do you go when you’re lonely?” These poems answer that. You go everywhere, and with all your people, and with all your things. And you clink the festive glasses of curiosity and gratitude while you’re at it.

— Mamie Morgan, poet whose work has appeared in Washington Square Review, The Oxford American, Fish Barrel Review, Nimrod, Muzzle, Four Way Review, Yemassee, Carolina Quarterly, Smartish Pace, The Yalobusha Review, Cimarron, Inkwell, and The Greensboro Review. Her first collection of poetry, EVERYONE I’VE DANCED WITH IS DEAD, is forthcoming from Jackleg Press.

In First Drafts from the Brewery, Rowe Carenen has created the kind of collection we need to see. It straddles the boundaries between universality and confession, between sophistication and accessibility so deftly that those who think they don’t love poetry might find themselves lost in its pages. Ultimately an exploration of many griefs, these poems are also dedicated to a return to self in body and in spirit: “My happiness is mine/ and no one owns it/ but me.” At times playful, at times meditative, at times rife with disappointment, First Drafts from the Brewery is a collection that fights to and succeeds in “creak[ing] out/ of … bed and beat[ing] back/ stagnation, again.”  

– Kate Fallon, author of two books of poetry The Toothmakers’ Daughters and Demoted Planet.



John Carenen, a native of Clinton, Iowa, graduated with an M.F.A. in Fiction Writing from the prestigious University of Iowa Writers Workshop and has been writing ever since. His work has appeared in numerous popular and literary magazines, and he has been a featured columnist in newspapers in North and South Carolina. A novel, Son-up, Son-down was published by the National Institute of Mental Health.

His debut Thomas O’Shea mystery novel, Signs of Struggle, was published in October of 2012. A Far Gone Night and The Face on the Other Side, the second and third books in the series, continue the exploits of the enigmatic protagonist and the quirky characters of Rockbluff, Iowa. 

John is a former English professor at Newberry College in Newberry, South Carolina. He and his wife live in their cozy cottage down a quiet lane in northern Greenville, South Carolina. He is a big fan of the Iowa Hawkeyes and Boston Red Sox.

Rowe Carenen is a graduate of Salem College and the University of Southern Mississippi. When asked, she’d say that poetry has been her passion ever since she realized that words could convey more than just the facts. Her poems have appeared in various literary journals and magazines, including The Revenant Culture, GERM, Terrible Orange Review, the Running with Water anthology, and her first collection, In the Meantime, was published by Neverland Publishing in 2014. She lives in Greenville, South Carolina, with her cat Minerva Jane and dog Neville Jameson.


March 15
5:30 pm - 6:30 pm
Event Categories:


M. Judson Booksellers
130 S. Main St.
Greenville, 29601 United States