Crapalachia: A Biography of a Place

Scott McClanahan, Author
Scott McClanahan. Two Dollar Radio (Consortium, dist.), $16 trade paper (170p) ISBN 978-1-937512-03-3
Reviewed on: 03/04/2013
Release date: 03/01/2013
Ebook - 192 pages - 978-1-937512-12-5
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-306-44076-9
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In this innovative "biography," McClanahan, author of three previous story collections, blends the oral storytelling traditions of his native rural West Virginia with a contemporary memoir style, recounting formative experiences under the influence of his indomitable, melodramatic grandmother Ruby and spirited Uncle Nathan. The latter had cerebral palsy and was unable to speak, though McClanahan understood him perfectly, and after these powerful forces in his life pass away, he moves in with his classmate Little Bill, who was tormented by OCD and unrequited love. McClanahan’s exuberant voice is conversational and confrontational, regularly breaking the fourth wall and joyfully blurring the sacrosanct division between non-fiction and fiction. The non-traditional narrative chronicles the peculiarities of Appalachian life——punctuated by mine collapses, quotidian tragedies, and recipes for chicken and gravy——and is infused with both boundless love and the ever-present specter of death. McClanahan oscillates between the resignation that surrounds him and a galvanizing hope that allows him to rise above the despairing, often violent place he calls home, just enough to get away, but not to forget. His singular mission is to create a lasting testament to the people he has loved and he succeeds: the book leaves an enduring impression. (Mar.)
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