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pushed forward by credible action and by dialogue designed more for hearing than for silent reading. Somewhat in the manner of a magician Still often seems furiously busy with one hand entertaining the audience with anecdotes , folklore, and colorful mountain dialogue while with the other hand he is unobtrusively shaping incidents, bridgingin poetic interludes, and posting subtle guides in the form of cues, warnings, and foreshadowings that direct the story toward his intended climax. Still is a writer of restricted scenes, valid desperations, and victories that seem small reward for all the patience and hurt they exact; but his more successful stories echo beyond the last word to a size commensurate with the capacity of the reader to understand and interpret. They reflect a compassion, insight, and objectivity remindful of Katherine Anne Porter ("The Jilting of Granny Weatherall," "The Downward Path to Wisdom" ) and Bernard MaIamud ("The Loan," "The Magic Barrel"). Still discovered early a clue to individuality to which many writers are color-blind and that many others by-pass in their haste: Simplicity without naivete, sentimentality, or redundancy. He has taught himself discipline . He was born with a sense of gentle humor. A native of northern Alabama, Still has lived for over forty years in an ancient log house on a small Knott County farm, green and flowering between Wolfpen Creek and Dead Mare Branch, at ease among a valley of neighbors who often sound as though they have stepped out of his stories. Throughout his life there he has supplemented his earnings as writer and farmer by whatever means would assure him time to write: Two Guggenheim fellowships, various grants in the form of room and board from foundations and writers' colonies , and intermittent work as librarian and university instructor. In addition to River of Earth and On Troublesome Creek, he has published a book of poems—Hounds on the Mountain— and two children's books, and he has a third children's book and a novel scheduled by Putnam for spring publication. It's shameful to cast a crossed eye at this collection, but Still has inserted a minor note of disharmony by prefacing the stories with Giovanni Verga's lament from The House by the Medlar Tree that the people and the culture of his book have disappeared . Understandably, Still is distressed over what has happened to his beloved Appalachian hills and hollows and especially to the people he has known a lifetime, but he does himself a discredit by implying that his artistry is dependent on the source of his subject matter. He would be an artist in any hollow in any country. All that finally matters is the always whirling life in the ever-fresh vision in Still's mind; and once he gets it on paper there is little reason for concern over whether it ever actually existed, for hopefully neither time nor reality will erode it. Such concern is as pointless as arguing with Picasso's illusion that women with fractured faces exist. Of course they exist. As certainly and as unforgettably as does Mrs. Razor. The McCoys: Their Story A Review by HAROLD BRANAM The feud is ended. The hates that flamed like forest fires have burned out. Only the glow of their embers of memory remains. This historical episode has suffered a change into literature and art. As literature it has the breadth of a folk epic, and as art it has the cleansing force of a classical tragedy. Thus ends The McCoys: Their Story, written by Truda Williams McCoy, edited by Leonard W. Roberts, and scheduled for publication this month by the Preservation Council Press, Pikeville. The ending is a fitting reminder, if any is needed, of the 83 sticking point in the human imagination that the Hatfield-McCoy feud has become. It is curious that, of the estimated two hundred or so feuds that raged in the Southern Appalachians after the Civil War, this one should be singled out. The answer seems to be that with each retelling, the Hatfield-McCoy feud has become less important as a historical episode and more meaningful as a legend. By taking on the dimensions of a legend , the Hatfield-McCoy...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1940-5081
Print ISSN
0363-2318
Pages
pp. 83-86
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-08
Open Access
N
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