Appalachia Posts

About Hillbilly Elegy & Those Who Champion Us

 

Photo by Sue Counts

Photo by Sue Counts

I’ve been reading the book that everyone was talking about six months ago – Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. It has been touted as an insightful book about Appalachia and more specifically about the people who voted Donald Trump into office.

It’s not really either of those things. When Vance says he’s from Appalachia what he means is that his people are from Kentucky, which is unquestionably Appalachia. But he grew up in Ohio, which to people who are Appalachian, not Appalachia.

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I AM NOT BLESSED

Crossville. 2011 106It’s the time now when I have finished one book and about to get started on another. It’s time for resetting. A time where I prepare for book tour. This last book in the Appalachian series will include a talk/presentation for ancestry buffs, so I’m working on that.

But it also the time I set aside for reading, replenishing, thinking, filling myself up.

I get out of the house more. I’ll be meeting with Sarah TheBarge in Portland next week for a girlfriend get-together. I am very excited about her upcoming book WELL, about her work in Togo. I’ll let you know when it’s out.

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Witnessing the Sacred

 

 

 

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There is this place in Oregon, along the Columbia River Gorge, where a person can walk behind the waterfall. Horsetail Falls is one of the most scenic of Oregon’s waterfalls. Not nearly as popular as the grandiose Multnomah Falls, it offers an intimacy the more regal Multnomah lacks.

 

I hiked up there some years back with my daughters, I think, though to tell you the truth, I remember less about who I was with and more about what it felt like, there behind that cool water thundering off that hillside like a thousand wild horses. If I recall correctly (who can trust their memory, really?) I waded right out into that pool of water and let that waterfall spray all over me. Whoever I was with laughed and hollered at me to get back, but I’m crazy like that around water. I can’t resist a good baptism in whatever form it comes – waterfalls, rivers, lakes, or the marble encased ones found in the churches of my upbringing.

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If you’re a Nashville fan

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From 2004-2013, I worked on my first novel, Mother of Rain (Mercer University Press). It was hard work. I was trying to tackle a lot of things all at once.

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Put aside the fact that I had never really written fiction. I’d been a journalist. An opinion writer. A human interest columnist. I’d never even attempted to write short stories, much less a full-length novel. Even so, I knew I had a story to tell that could not be told in a non-fiction manner, especially because the story was inspired by a true-life terrifying event – a dear friend had suffered some sort of mental breakdown. We didn’t know the words for it then, didn’t have access to online, laptops and nobody had ever heard the term Social Media.

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Who My People Are

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My people are a superstitious bunch.

We don’t walk behind rocking chairs.

We don’t iron on Sundays.

Lord, God forgive us quick if we break a mirror.

Who can afford seven years of bad luck?

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My people know that if your nose is itching, company’s a’coming.

They know if there’s a ring around the full moon, somebody you love is going to die.

They know if your ears are burning, somebody’s talking about you.

They know there will be a winter snow for every fog in August.

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