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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