IN-PERSON: Julia Ridley Smith presents THE SUM OF TRIFLES, with Jill McCorkle

Tuesday, November 9, 2021 - Signing Line at 5:30 pm, Talk begins at 6:00 pm.

This will be an in-person event, with a video recording posted after the event. Flyleaf will offer seating for up to thirty in-person guests, with priority access given to folks who purchase the book. If you preorder a copy through Flyleaf, please use your order comments to indicate whether you would like 1 or 2 seats held for you at the in-person event. We will contact you to confirm the reservation prior to the event.

When Julia Ridley Smith’s parents died, they left behind a virtual museum of furniture, books, art, and artifacts. Between the contents of their home, the stock from their North Carolina antiques shop, and the ephemera of two lives lived, Smith faced a monumental task. What would she do with her parents’ possessions?

Smith’s wise and moving memoir in essays, The Sum of Trifles, peels back the layers of meaning surrounding specific objects her parents owned, from an eighteenth-century miniature to her father’s prosthetics. A vintage hi-fi provides a view of her often tense relationship with her father, whose love of jazz kindled her own artistic impulse. A Japanese screen embodies her mother’s principles of good taste and good manners, while an antebellum quilt prompts Smith to grapple with her family’s slaveholding legacy. Along the way, she turns to literature that illuminates how her inheritance shaped her notions of identity and purpose.

The Sum of Trifles offers up dark humor and raw feeling, mixed with an erudite streak. It’s a curious, thoughtful look at how we live in and with our material culture and how we face our losses as we decide what to keep and what to let go.


Julia Ridley Smith is the 2021-22 Kenan Visiting Writer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has also taught creative writing and literature at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Her essays and short stories have appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Ecotone, Electric Literature, the New England Review, and the Southern Review, among other publications. She lives in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Jill McCorkle's first two novels were released simultaneously when she was just out of college, and the New York Times called her "a born novelist." Since then, she has published six novels and four collections of short stories, and her work has appeared in Best American Short Stories several times, as well as The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction. Five of her books have been New York Times Notable books, and her most recent novel, Life After Life, was a New York Times bestseller. She has received the New England Booksellers Award, the John Dos Passos Prize for Excellence in Literature, and the North Carolina Award for Literature. She has written for the New York Times Book Review, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, Garden and Gun, the Atlantic, and other publications. She was a Briggs-Copeland Lecturer in Fiction at Harvard, where she also chaired the department of creative writing. She is currently a faculty member of the Bennington College Writing Seminars and is affiliated with the MFA program at North Carolina State University.

Event date: 
Tuesday, November 9, 2021 - 5:30pm
Event address: 
752 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
The Sum of Trifles Cover Image
$22.95
ISBN: 9780820360416
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Preorder Now
Published: University of Georgia Press - November 1st, 2021

Hieroglyphics Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9781616209728
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Algonquin Books - July 28th, 2020