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This book is a wonderful telling of rural Appalachian stories in the same vein as Horace Kephart's Our Southern Highlanders - though I liked it better than Kephart. The author, Olive Tilford Dargan, based her stories on her own experiences living in the region and was aware of Kephart's work. Where Kephart occasionally engages in cliche and negative stereotypes of women, Dargan tells stories that feel original and highlight dynamic female characters. The book is a delight with stories that make it hard to put down - very well crafted. I'm surprised to see it doesn't have any reviews.
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Carolina Kat: I'm sorry, but you are very much mistaken. My grandmother is in one of the photos (with her grandfather, the "judge", fishing) and remembers Olive Tilford Dargan VERY well. Dargan spent years living right next door to all of the folks that appear in the photos and the same folks that told her the stories that inspired the stories in the book. My grandmother can name most everyone in the stories (and the photos); however, she said that Dargan changed ALL of the names.
Anyway, long story short (no pun intended), according to my grandmother, the stories are based upon real events and the lives of the folks that lived there. And, unless you lived up in the rural Appalachians during the early 20th Century, I don't think you can dispute her claim.
Now, the one thing that her and I will grant you is that Dargan's attempt to write in the local dialect was a really bad idea and DID offend a number of folks (believe it or not, most southerners don't think they have an accent!) So, while most of my family would say that she got the content and "spirit" of the stories correct in the book, the attempt at scribing the 'dialect' was a really bad idea.
Personally, I don't feel comfortable commenting on much since my time in the area where Dargan lived when she wrote the book (Almond, NC) was only 1974-1992 (my childhood.) However, based upon stories that *I* heard from my family members, my interactions with older people as a kid, and my extensive genealogy research, I think that the book is a lot more "real" than you realize.
Finally, I do want to be clear that the stories are, in essence, fiction. However, all characters and the stories themselves were based upon REAL people.Read more ›
A narrow and terrible book. The author engaged in an endeavor to understand a culture to which she felt superior, obscuring from her any meaningful understanding of her subject. There is one great lesson in this book - objectivity is essential in understanding another culture - and this is a perfect example of what doesn't work. Reading this book is a waste of time intellectually, and sadly, an insult to mountain culture it purports to explain.
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