Tag Archives: appalachian literature

Book Excerpt: ‘Blood in West Virginia’

Before Hollene had time to react, a single shot from a high-powered Winchester rifle exploded into the air. Al’s startled horse jumped and spun wildly.

Another shot. Hollene fell to the ground, her face torn to pieces, black from powder burn and smattered in blood.

Dave Dingess, riding nearly beside Al and Hollene, had also spotted the two men hiding among the rocks. He had put up his hand before the second shot, then felt it go numb. Feeling little pain, he had quickly turned his horse and slid over toward its side opposite the shooters, and clung to his saddle, keeping his arms around the horse’s neck, until he maneuvered to safety. He and Harve galloped back up the creek toward home and help. No shots came their way. But Dave’s hand was covered in blood.

Al, meanwhile, tried to regain control of his horse. He looked down at his wife, then up toward the rocks.

Another shot—this time finding its mark.

Al fell to the ground, rolling in the dust. He felt pain at his right elbow and all through his arm, then numbness. His arm was covered in blood—shot and broken—useless from the fall.

His horse sped away down the creek.

Al crawled toward Hollene, reaching under his jacket for a pistol. Then came another shot, this time grazing his breast and ripping the fabric of his vest. The pressure was intense.

Al followed his horse downstream to safety.

For a brief moment, the scene was completely quiet.

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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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Book Excerpt: ‘Lock Ready’

David stepped into the large warehouse at the southern end of the canal basin in Cumberland. The bay doors had been swung open to allow sunlight to shine on the work going on inside. However, it also meant that the warehouse stayed cold inside. It was nothing more than a very long barn. The difference was that this barn housed canal boats not livestock. The Lewis Boatworks was one of a handful of boat yards in Cumberland that built and repaired canal boats for canallers.

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As Meat loves Salt. A folktale.

“Which of you shall we say doth love us most?” asks King Lear of his three daughters at the opening of Shakespeare’s tragedy. Shakespeare often re-interpreted well known tales & legends in his plays—the Lear story is a very old European folk motif that turns up in literally hundreds of variants of the “Cinderella” tale. […]

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