BLOODROOT by Joyce Dyer


Reflections on Place by Appalachian Women Writers
edited by
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A broad sampling of deeply impressive writings--essays, memoirs, poetry, letters, stories—by women from the Southern Highlands, edited by Dyer (In a Tangled Wood, not reviewed). If the word Appalachia conjures little more for you than mining disasters and Walker Evans photos, turn these pages and discover the remarkable storytelling tradition that flourished there, and thrives still. Every one of these 35 pieces goes down smooth as a glass of Georgia peach, even when it bites. A few of the names of the contributors will be familiar—Nikki Giovanni and Gail Godwin, Jayne Anne Phillips, whose offering is a terrific out-of-time remembrance of her hometown, circa 1962—but most of the women here (all were born in the 20th century) have toiled long and hard, often in obscurity, their love of words keeping the storytelling art alive—and high art it is. Each writer was asked to address how the Appalachias had affected them (whites, African-Americans, and Native Americans are represented). There are good doses of the stubborn, rooted poetry of attachment by Kathryn Stripling Byer, Rita Sims Quillen, and others. Lou V.P. Crabtree, a certified old soul, tenders a stark, lyric portrait of Price Hollow; Hilda Downer’s depiction of Bandana—“named for the red bandana Clinchfield Railroad tied to a laurel branch to denote an imaginary train station”—is more sensuous. Denise Gardinia tells of losing her innocence to grammar, and Ellesa Clay High takes readers on a tour of her home patch through a “soft female rain that can last for days here’something we share with Seattle and other places.” There are 26 others, each as deserving of mention as the next. This collection won the 1997 Appalachian Studies Award--likely hands down, and deservedly so. (b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-8131-2059-4
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Univ. Press of Kentucky
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1998


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