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  • Book Notes
Gilbert Allen. Catma. Evansville, Ind.: Measure Press, 2014. 93 pages. Hardcover. $20.00.

Allen’s latest poetry collection is full of wit, wordplay, and humor. These poems see his poking affectionate fun at rednecks, retirees, religious fanatics, academics, and politicians, to name but a few targets of his wry pen.

John Branscum and Wayne Thomas, editors. Red Holler: Contemporary Appalachian Literature. Louisville, Ky.: Sarabande Books, 2013. 256 pages. Trade paperback. $16.95.

This handsome anthology places the span of contemporary Appalachian literature on full display. Fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and even graphic narratives are all here, with the work of familiar writers including Ron Rash, Crystal Wilkinson, Karen Salyer McElmurray, and Maurice Manning placed alongside that of emerging voices. [End Page 127]

Richard Gilbert. Shepherd: A Memoir. East Lansing, Mich.: Michigan State University Press, 2014. 318 Pages. Trade paperback. $24.95

In this thoughtful memoir, Gilbert recounts his decision to move with his family from town to country in Appalachian Ohio, purchasing a farm to breed and sell sheep. But everything is not bucolic—they lose money, their flock faces illness, and Gilbert is haunted by his father’s loss of his childhood farm. His family’s story of perseverance on the land and among the sheep makes for a poetic homage to rural life and the struggle of chasing a dream.

Leatha Kendrick. Almanac of the Invisible. Monterey, Ky.: Larkspur Press, 2014. 52 pages, with illustrations by Arwen Donahue. Paperback. $26.00.

Kentucky poet Kendrick bears witness to love, loss, land, and seasons in this lyrical collection. She offers moving meditations on birdsong and turkey buzzards, the seven ages of Shakespeare, and fighting breast cancer, all alongside exquisite drawings from artist Arwen Donahue.

Builder Levy. Appalachia USA: Photographs by Builder Levy. Boston, Mass.: David R. Godine, 2014. 123 pages. Hardcover. $40.00.

These stunning photographs, collected between 1968 and 2009, offer a beautiful, complex, and moving chronicle of the landscape, people, and protest movements of Appalachia.

Laura Long. Out of Peel Tree: A Novel. Morgantown, W. Va.: West Virginia University Press, 2014. 140 pages. Trade paperback. $16.99.

Billed as a novel in stories, Long’s Out of Peel Tree chronicles moments in the lives of a scattered mountain [End Page 128] family: the runaway delinquent who is trying to build a life in Texas, a parolee on his way to Reno, Nevada, a woman who receives a letter that changes everything. The layered writing and use of sensory details make this debut a pleasure—and this author one to watch.

Paulette Livers. Cementville. Berkley, Calif.: Counterpoint Press, 2014. 304 pages. Trade paperback. $19.95.

Set in a small Kentucky town in 1969, Cementville opens with the bodies of a local group of dead soldiers returning home from Vietnam. The collective grief felt by the townspeople leads to something more—a sense of community, along with mysterious acts of violence. In her debut novel, Livers skillfully depicts a town attempting to reconcile tradition with an approaching new order.

Roger May. Testify: Photographs by Roger May. Durham, N.C.: Horse & Buggy Press, 2014. 72 pages in two volumes, and a foreword by Silas House. Fine press book. $65.00.

May’s unflinching eye captures Appalachia from the perspective of both insider and outsider in this profound collection of photographs. Testify records a personal journey of home and family—and all their complexities.

Emma Bell Miles. Once I Too Had Wings: The Journals of Emma Bell Miles, 1908-1918. Steven Cox, Editor. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 2014. 352 pages with index, foreword by Elizabeth Engelhardt and list of illustrations. Trade paperback. $28.95.

At the turn of the twentieth-century, Emma Bell Miles’s prose often graced the pages of magazines such as Harper’s Weekly, and her nonfiction book The Spirit of the Mountains offered a complex portrait of mountain life. But her own [End Page 129] world was often troubled. These writings, expertly collected by Cox, delve into Miles’s life and observations on her family’s challenging economic circumstances, her son’s death from scarlet fever, and her own fight against tuberculosis, all transcribed in her trademark evocative prose.

Rita Quillen. Hiding Ezra. Johnson City...


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pp. 127-131
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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