Tag Archives: appalachian literature

For no reason he knew of he was coming alive with the garden

But, strange as it seemed to him, there were minutes — sometimes half-hours — when, without his knowing why, the black burden seemed to lift itself again and he knew he was a living man and not a dead one. Slowly — slowly — for no reason that he knew of — he was “coming […]


Book Review: “Providence, VA”

“When I was working on my first book,” says Abraham, “I met a mountain woman who lived very remotely. She said to me, ‘If the world goes to hell in a handbasket, my neighbors are the people you want to know. They are ingenious, they live close to the land and care for each other. They’ll make it.’

“I thought about this for 3 years. I began to think about how to send the world to hell in a handbasket, quickly and blamelessly, thus a natural disaster. There are other books written about EMP from nuclear attacks, but I didn’t want to have all that geo-political stuff weighing in. I decided to have the story told from the view of a young, impressionable outsider, faced with a difficult situation.”


When he drew his magic bow against his violin’s strings

During the 1870s, William Murphy of Greenville, S. C., wandered through these mountains making music every day. He, like Stephen Foster, was regarded as a half-vagabond, but he was tolerated for the pleasure his enchanted violin gave whenever he drew his magic bow across its strings. There can be little doubt that men of his […]


The boldest indecent passages I have ever seen

Publishers’ Weekly 145 (March 25, 1944): “Strange Fruit banned by Boston booksellers” Says a Cambridge adage: “Banned in Boston is the trademark of a good book.” On March 25,1944 Cambridge Police Chief Timothy J. O’Leary, Boston’s Police Commissioner Thomas F. Sullivan, and the Boston Bookseller’s Association all joined in squashing the sale of Strange Fruit, […]


The Definitive ‘Appalachian Novel’ Celebrates Its Diamond Anniversary

James Still (1906–2001) has cast a long shadow. A diverse canon of ‘Appalachian’ literature has emerged in recent decades, and many authors, including Ron Rash, Lee Smith, and Silas House, have acknowledged River of Earth as the book that inspired them to write about their home region. Some writers from outside Appalachia, such as Wendell Berry, have similarly cited Still as a formative influence.

Still, were he here today, would undoubtedly not claim credit for founding a regional literary movement. He dearly loved the region to which he moved when a young college student (after growing up in Alabama). Yet, Still often told interviewers and friends that he thought of himself as a Southern writer and that he yearned to be considered in the company of William Faulkner, Katherine Anne Porter, and Flannery O’Connor.

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