This non-fiction selection is of local and regional interest for readers who are interested in the topics of tufting and cottage industry, and in life...moreThis non-fiction selection is of local and regional interest for readers who are interested in the topics of tufting and cottage industry, and in lifestyles of the Northwest Georgia region ~ specifically of Dalton, Chatsworth, Eton, Calhoun, and surrounding areas. It would well serve genealogists, whose ancestors worked in tufting in North Georgia, to read this book. As topical non-fiction, it is informative and highly entertaining, up to a point. About halfway through, it does get a little dry, detailing the growth of specific large corporations and their CEOs. The book starts with a description of chenille-tufting beginnings, including a brief biography of youthful entrepreneur, Catherine Evans Whitener, locally credited as being the "first" to revive the folk craft of candlewicking (her own variation of it) in Dalton after the Civil War. It then follows the early-to-mid 20th-century growth of the cottage industry of tufting bedspreads that led to innovations in broadbeam and broadloom carpet tufting, documenting specific dates of origin and acquisition of companies. It is a "vanity-press" publication and does have earmarks of community bragging. However, it goes beyond being a brag book to document stories, anecdotes and biographies of local textile pioneers. OSHA lovers and haters will both shudder and laugh at anecdotes of low-paid, snuff-spitting grannies and children in mountain cabins, tufting away well past midnight by the light of a kerosene lamp; old men converting chicken houses to spreadhouses so they can sell spreads and tinker around with inventions; and early, rather dangerous innovations in textile-manufacturing methods. It really is a wonderful depiction of what hard-scrabble folks will do to earn their keep during hard times. It is indexed and contains about 245 surnames (not counting names of companies, which would add more). It has a glossary of industry terms.(less)
My enjoyment of this book was discolored by the long, long buildup. The Southern inferiority complex is readily apparent. Sidda, the main character, o...moreMy enjoyment of this book was discolored by the long, long buildup. The Southern inferiority complex is readily apparent. Sidda, the main character, offers up proof that she has left Southern roots behind to become the very cliché of a sophisticated, "successful" urbanite: she has a good career, is in therapy, has a jaded prior love life, and is in a successful relationship ~ which bothers her enough that she immediately puts said relationship in jeopardy. The mother-daughter conflict is laid out. Sidda has been betrayed by a reporter into airing dirty secrets about her mother, thus alienating her family. Delightful to some, disgusting to others, will be the Jane-Fonda-like depiction of Catholicism, laced with profanity and blasphemies enough. Finally comes the story. The plot device is a trip through the minutia of the Ya-Ya scrapbook. The Ya Ya sisters themselves form a tight-knit, kooky group of long-time friends, but the scraps and letters don't tell all (and can be downright boring). I nearly gave up reading, but decided to skim. Finally, the story becomes more absorbing. I found the meat of Vivi's story to be worth reading. That part is spicy, warm, poignant, and insightful, in an Oprah kind of way. The traumas described therein seem very "real," and Vivi is somewhat redeemed; but, lest we come to like her too much, her daughter throws in the obligatory Southern racism. The book has nice moments, though it reads more like a memoir than a novel. Granted, this is not my usual choice of reading material, but the title had given me hope. I was lukewarm about the movie and the book just didn't keep my interest. Still, my opinion shouldn't deter any reader who does love Oprah-like soul searching.
A poignant story, both frank and tender, told in an Appalachian voice that rings true—that is My Old True Love: A Novel. Arty Norton Wallin (the narra...moreA poignant story, both frank and tender, told in an Appalachian voice that rings true—that is My Old True Love: A Novel. Arty Norton Wallin (the narrator) is “mountain,” way down to the marrow of her bones, and I can’t help but think that Sheila Kay Adams is, as well. As I read, I was taken back to a time of Appalachian life and culture even older than the one that I recall—but not without the strong flavor of some Smoky Mountain kin that I do recall. Long review: The story is set in North Carolina, but within spitting distance of Tennessee. It takes place in the Civil War era, but is not just a Civil War story. Rather, it tells of the impact that an outside War had on a mountain people who knew little of the War’s cause until they were inexorably caught up in it. When the heavily foreshadowed tragedy finally plays out, it is very like a ballad of the lives of two cousins, closer than brothers, Hackley and Larkin. The ballad is spoken, not sung, in a voice that is true Appalachia. Arty’s own voice and spirit, in turn, reflect the salt-pepper-and-molasses spirit of a frank-spoken old granny—her grandmother, mentor, and friend. Granny made me laugh and cry. Arty’s dialect is thick, but I had only to search my mind for a real memory of someone whose voice became, for me, Arty’s voice—and from there on out, I “heard” the story in soft and silver tones that rang true. Of molasses, Arty says, “Now them was some of the best I ever put in my mouth” (134). I’ve heard that said many, many times (though usually of greens, biscuits, or dumplings). “I swan,” she says (122). And when I read the interjection, “They law” (84), I had to stop reading and simply marvel at it. It was almost as if my old great aunt was right there in the room with me. The people seemed very real to me. Highly recommended to all still living who watched Appalachia vanish before their very eyes—and further recommended to all who would like a taste of what it once was.(less)
Manly Wade Wellman is well-steeped in the folklore of many cultures, as are his protagonists. These protagonists are contemporary sojourners in the an...moreManly Wade Wellman is well-steeped in the folklore of many cultures, as are his protagonists. These protagonists are contemporary sojourners in the ancient hills of Appalachia: a curious mixture of folklorist, anthropologist, scientist, poet, truthseeker, and hero. They come to research and bear witness. Where there is mystery, they investigate, often with the help of hill neighbor and kin. Where there is evil, they vanquish, usually in the name of the Lord. Evil comes in many forms in these stories: ghost, witch, Satan, pagan tree-spirit; some ancient Grendel of the mountains, some would-be succubus; perhaps even an evil, ancient corruption that haunts the ground, reminiscent of the swamp thing of comic-book lore. Wellman's stories have the ring of truth, though of a truth that requires the reader to suspend disbelief, allowing for evidence of things unseen. This is due to his story-telling method, which is traditional and straight-forward. He makes only rare use of the familiar suspense buildup to a plot twist at the end. "The Petey Car," "Along About Sundown," and "Rock, Rock" might appear in any Hitchcock collection. The other stories almost defy categorization, but they are powerful and strong. Wellman will appeal to readers of the "old-fashioned" ghost story, to people who like ballads, perhaps. His prose is deep and rich, his stories are strange.(less)