Sunday, December 21, 2008

Book Review: Appalachian Christmas Stories

By James Gifford Owen B. Nance, and Patricia A. Hall
Ashland, KY: The Jesse Stuart Foundation, 1997.

Anyone who reads Appalachian literature knows the names of these contributors: Jesse Stuart, Loyal Jones, and Harry M. Caudill. The work of other less familiar writers (at least to me) like Jim Wayne Miller, Marlin W. Blaine and others only add to the lustre of their more famous counterparts in this collection of stories, essays and poems about the holiday celebrations of mountain people.

Although most of the contributors are from Kentucky, mountain ways are mountain ways, and the stories rung as true for West Virginia as they will for people in the other Appalachian states.

The tale that spoke most strongly to me was Christmas on the River by Billy C. Clark. I wasn't raised in the mountains, but I could identify with the boy's intense longing for candy, and the lengths he was willing to go to for just a taste of the sweet treat. Anyone who was raised in hard times or in families with limited resources will understand his desperation.

The essays provide a deeper look into Appalachian Christmas traditions, lore and history, and the poetry offers both humor and inspiration.

Although out of print, there are several used copies available online. And of course, your local library may have it on their shelves. For a heartwarming, thoughtful visit to Christmas in the deep mountains, this book is a great choice.


Janet, said...

This sounds like a good book, Susanne.

Granny Sue said...

I think you'd really like it, Janet, especially the essays about how Christmas was celebrated in the mountains. I thought of your book when I was reading it and wondering if any of that information would be useful in your chapters about Christmas. I ordered a copy online and it came last night--only $5.00 including shipping and it looks brand new.

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