Out of the Mountains, Appalachian Stories by Meredith Sue Willis

Here's one to look out for:

By Mered­ith Sue Willis; Ohio Uni­ver­si­ty Press, $24.95 paperback

Willis is a native of north cen­tral West Vir­ginia; her home­town is in Appalachia. She is fas­ci­nat­ed by the region and the image it has in the col­lec­tive con­scious­ness of the coun­try. The stereo­types that once defined the whole of Appalachia have fad­ed, she writes.

For bet­ter or worse, the bal­lads, ghost stores and mate­r­i­al cul­ture have become a sub­ject of fes­ti­vals, cel­e­bra­tion, study, and col­lec­tion rather than dai­ly life of the major­i­ty of peo­ple. Appalachi­ans of the twen­ty-first cen­tu­ry con­sume the same pop­u­lar cul­ture and fast food as oth­er Amer­i­cans. They go online and pass around jokes and prayers with dig­i­tal images. They trav­el over­seas. They send their chil­dren to America’s col­leges and to America’s wars, and they wor­ry about — and orga­nize around — the qual­i­ty of water and moun­tain­top removal.”

So what gives the region a sep­a­rate iden­ti­ty? What is unique about it? It is these ques­tions that Willis address­es through her fic­tion, and these dozen fine­ly craft­ed short sto­ries all are linked to or set in Willis’ home area. More.

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