Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Dear Fellow Writers, Kathryn Stripling Byer's call for us to declare our favorite book of the mountains is a good thing. I didn't at first even know there would be so few and didn't know that I was also not simply being asked to judge, but to declare my favorite. Well, first I'm shocked there are not hundreds of essays here. Gary Carden's favorite Appalachian novel essay is well written. It makes me want to get the book if it can be found.
I'm the READING-HAlF-THE-DAY-OR-HALF-THE-NIGHT woman, although I've never been a reviewer and couldn't be if I tried. I did pass the MFA program by taking a lot of Tagamet to get through the writing of the-degree-year essay. But books. You can't stop me from reading. I read. The book I just frinished this morning is THE SONG OF SOLOMON, (for the 2nd time in my life) written by Toni Morrison. It's one of the best books ever written. My cat was so happy he said "Meow" when I held the book up and he saw me take it off the bed to put back on the bookshelf because it had fallen on his head so many times this week.
Okay, down to business. I will declare:
There has been a lot of good poetry written here in the mountains in the past few years, but if I have to say, I have no trouble saying: In her book When the Sap Rises, Glends Barrett gives us the most authentic voice to rise out of the southern mountains in years. Whether she is eating an apple with a knife or if she is knee deep, fishing in Owl Creek, here is a woman who is as immersed in her environment as in her daily existnce. Barrett's concerns for family and heritage go beyond what happened, for her poems celebrate life, transcend sorrow, and show the reader what was learned. Available at Amazon.com and Finishing Line Press, 2008) .
My favorite novel set in the mountains in recent years is Charles Frazier's thirteen moons,
(2006, Random House) It was a joy to live the life of young Will Cooper from age 12 to the
end. I know, it's fiction. I know Frazier wrote in the back of the book how "Will Cooper is not
William Holland Thomas, though they do share some DNA." I know Frazier emphasized that Charley is not Tsali. Bla, bla. I knew the "history" before I read the book. I knew the story. I lived and breathed thirteen moons. For me, thirteen moons was a better book than Cold Mountain, for which the author received the National Book Award, but I did not succeed in getting anyone who would agree with me nor even disucss thirteen moons.
My favorite children's book from the mountains is MOUNTAIN WEDDING by Faye Gibbons. I want to know who ever has my copy to bring it back now. Gibbons was born in Carter's Quarter in the north Georgia mountains in 1938 and has authored 13 published books.