Alicia's Reviews > Oral History

Oral History by Lee Smith
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Jan 31, 12

Recommended to Alicia by: My sister Patti.
Read from January 10 to 15, 2012

I only recently discovered Lee Smith, although this novel was first published in the 1980s. I've got a lot of catching up to do. Smith is a born storyteller and knows the Appalachian region first hand, having grown up in southwestern Virginia and then spending her adult years in North Carolina. She also draws from extensive research on the area's history, folklore and folkways. The narrative line spans the early 1900s up to the present (1980s), and the tales are told by different narrators. A simple family tree helps the reader sort out the relationships in the Cantrell family line.

What I found so exciting about this book are the rich characterizations and the spot-on rendering of mountain speech and expressions. It made me wistful for the past, when I could hear the voices of my parents, grandparents, and extended family. Here are stories of mystery, the supernatural, passion, loss, struggle and family ties. The hog butchering scene, a community event for hell raising, cooking and fellowship, is amazing.
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