October 2 marks the 100th birthday of one of North Carolina’s most celebrated and then neglected writers, a giant from Asheville who enrolled at UNC-Chapel Hill when he was only 15, then went on to Harvard and then published several great works of literature before dying at the tender age of 37. At UNC, Thomas Wolfe (pictured) was a great debater, a late-to-class, procrastinating, brilliant student, an actor and a playwright who would one day find his true voice in the longer, looser structure of the novel. Since his death, he’s been both lauded and lost, even at his own alma mater, at which Wolfe studies had dwindled to a single class taught by Dr. Frank Wilson in the 1980s. But Wolfe fever is back with a vengeance this year. His native Asheville has a number of theatrical salutes and exhibitions planned, and here in the Triangle, UNC’s North Carolina Collection opens their second Wolfe centenary exhibit A Kind of Magic Door: Thomas Wolfe at the University of North Carolina, 1916-1920 on October 3. (The exhibit runs through February 14, 2001. For details, call 962-1172.)
Other UNC-organized events include a marathon reading of Look Homeward, Angel on Oct. 2 and 3 in the Pit; a PlayMakers production of Look Homeward, Angel (Oct. 18-Nov. 12; call 962-7529); Tom Wolfe (A Man in Full, Bonfire of the Vanities) speaking on Thomas Wolfe on Oct. 17 at 7:30 p.m.; a StreetSigns’ production of the Wolfe novella The Lost Boy. Call 843-ARTS for more information.