Red Holler: Contemporary Appalachian Literature

Edited by John Branscum and Wayne Thomas. Sarabande (Consortium, dist.), $16.95 trade paper (248p) ISBN 978-1-936747-66-5
Branscum and Thomas push beyond the old tropes in this diverse but uneven anthology of contemporary Appalachian fiction, graphic narratives, nonfiction, and poetry. Jacinda Townsend’s wonderful but abruptly ended account, “Lackland,” traces her father’s real-life experience as a black Appalachian serviceman stationed in Jim Crow Mississippi. Jeff Mann offers a memoir in “715 Wiley Street,” shedding some light on an oft-neglected perspective, even though “writing about gay people in Appalachia,” Mann says, “doesn’t net me much money or attention.” “Affrilachian Poet” Makalani Bandele approaches the universal in “Southbound #71,” where she expresses what it feels like when “the bus driver looks at you like you just picked your nose and wiped it on your shirt.” The best surprise of the collection is Pinkney Benedict’s graphic narrative, “ORGO vs the FLATLANDERS,” which lovingly mocks the genre’s overwrought mythologies while “work[ing] out on paper that boyhood understanding of the true nature of the world,” which his farmer father broke in two: “mountain people and flatlanders.” Benedict, Ron Rash, and Dennis Covington—as well as Donald Ray Pollock, Jane Springer, and Alex Taylor—help move the collection beyond many amateurish pieces. Teachers and enthusiasts of Appalachian literature will appreciate the breadth of work, including artist statements and bios. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 07/15/2013
Release date: 10/01/2013
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-936747-70-2
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