Red Holler: Contemporary Appalachian Literature edited by John Branscum & Wayne Thomas

The Appalachian Mountain region and its people have been a powerful influence on American literature. The area is an anomaly in the eastern part of the country – a placered holler largely rural, with a culture somewhat different from the mainstream. Its very uniqueness makes the mountain region fertile ground to be written about.

And write they do, here in Red Holler, a kaleidoscope of fiction, poetry, essays and graphic writings by a coterie of individuals who provide a gritty face to latter-day Appalachian literature. Most of the writers here are largely unknown, at least to me, although both Ron Rash and Dennis Covington have contributions here. Go past these two (although their story and essay are worth reading); there’s some good writing in Red Holler, and it shows the varieties of viewpoints that are manifest in Appalachia today – white, black, gay, straight, or poverty-stricken.

Since it’s an anthology, Red Holler isn’t something that you have to finish in one sitting. You can go through a story or essay, cut through a few poems, and then put it down for another time – just the ticket for these busy times when reading a whole novel is out of the question.

(William Hicks, Information Services)

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