Tag Archives: Affrilachia

Book Review: ‘Beyond the Briar Patch: Affrilachian Folktales, Food and Folklore’

Lyn Ford, a nationally recognized Affrilachian storyteller, has a remedy to transcend such rifts between us. Through African-influenced stories and folktales from Appalachia, she reminds us of our common humanity: for “when [we] share one another’s stories, [we] can’t stay enemies.” Ford recently published her second book of tales, Beyond the Briar Patch, in which she intimately retells her own interpretations of what she refers to as ‘home-fried’ tales from her childhood.

Home-fried tales are organic, from the grit of our familial habitation: “from childhood summers shared with storytelling with my father…and my maternal grandfather, Pop-Pop[s]…and bedtime-story readings with my mother….” They are stewed in the pot of hardscrabble living—its humor, its wit, its cleverness, its lessons, its trickeries and its sophistications. Home-fried tales are from the thorny briar patch, the dense and tangled thicket of life many are born into. These tales are informed from all aspects of culture: life, history, racial tensions, romance, music, food, laughter, death and so much more. Most importantly, they are universal tales with full-bodied flavors that all of us are familiar with no matter where we call home.

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Book Review: ‘Out of Peel Tree’

Maybe it was the timing of my reading Out of Peel Tree, a novel in stories about a contemporary Appalachian family that follows a grandmother, Essie, and her lineage from Peel Tree, West Virginia to a Texas town and all the places of life in between. The book opens with a connected characters family tree – Essie, Eva, Darlene, Billie, Hector, Corina, Joshua – each of whom own chapters in this book that the academy and critics love. I can see all the ingredients and why – it’s a good story, it has detailed imagery, an interesting creative-on-linear structure that at times bridges between poetry and Appalachian story telling, offering changing points of view that move forward and backward to develop the characters and plot.

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