SWEET HOLLOW by Lou V. Crabtree


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Seven sun-and-shadow tales, in a folk idiom, about people in the hills and hollows of Appalachia some 50 years ago. Myths and dreams are plentiful here: ""It is good to know witches--them who can put on spells and them who can break spells"". . . like the one who bewitched Maw's milk cow and the one who set everything right again. In ""Little Jesus"" the narrator remembers boys, greedy Old Preacher, a tooth-pulling blacksmith, and the Old Woman with her goose--back in the days before ""the cabins fell into decay. . . the old traces grew over with red pokeberries, thistle and milkweed."" In ""Holy Spirit"" a worn and gentle woman--who named and buried her 13 miscarriages--now dies herself, her body like a dead she-possum, her soul flying joyfully to her dead children. ""Wildcat John"" is a hellfire preacher who shares a sinful secret with his second wife and dies mad, punished by the life and death of his violent son. (His wife quietly buries the secret and washes John's body in holy water.) There's a Christmas idyll, ""The Miracle in Sweet Hollow""--in which, as in the old myth, the barn animals talk on Christmas Eve, and a tired, worrying woman is given angel wings to view the miracle of her own hearth. And there's also a season-by-season, ""book of life"" tribute to the seasons of a woodland pond. Quietly told stories, somewhat sentimental, but sharpened with a generous whittling-stick ambience.

Pub Date: March 10th, 1983
Publisher: Louisiana State Univ. Press