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Southern Appalachian Storytellers: Interviews with Sixteen Keepers of the Oral Tradition (Contributions to Southern Appalachian Studies)
Southern Appalachian Storytellers: Interviews with Sixteen Keepers of the Oral Tradition (Contributions to Southern Appalachian Studies)
by Saundra Gerrell Kelley
Edition: Paperback
Price: $33.25
11 used & new from $28.64

5.0 out of 5 stars The Stories Behind the Stories, July 1, 2013
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Saundra Kelley, a stellar storyteller in her own right, knew exactly how to engage each of these Appalachian icons to draw out the pictures behind the art of each of them. These sixteen conversations are, in themselves, great stories, entertainment as well as reference. Invaluable to the scholar, and just a plain good read.

Baroque Music for Brass & Organ
Baroque Music for Brass & Organ
Price: $15.39
35 used & new from $5.30

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heart-swelling, spirit-lifting. great stuff, January 5, 2013
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A joyful noise in the grandest manner. Bigger-than-life music written for the biggest occasions, gorgeously played. Even the young teen brass-player it was bought to "instruct" loved it, right off, without the sign of an argument. A fine, rare success.

Glen or Glenda
Glen or Glenda
DVD ~ Henry Bederski
Price: $7.98
28 used & new from $2.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Appallingly Bad even for Ed Wood, January 5, 2013
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This review is from: Glen or Glenda (DVD)
As this terrible blot on the image of Really Dumb Low-Life Porn progressed on the screen, with the matchless Ed Wood himself emoting in the title role(s), I asked myself, WHY did I encourage such excrement by ordering and paying for such an atrocity against human taste? I did it because someone important on my Santa Claus list asked for it. I think after sitting through it together, we are BOTH sorry now -- though the Ed Wood fan will never admit it. It does have ONE interesting quality -- it manages to be vile, disgusting, ludicrous and boring -- all at the same time!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 9, 2013 8:52 PM PST

Queen of the Lost
Queen of the Lost
by Emily Cooper
Edition: Paperback
Price: $20.62
18 used & new from $17.70

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Queen of the Lost -- An operatic Dixie in crinolines and lace, November 7, 2011
This review is from: Queen of the Lost (Paperback)
Goodness gracious, Miss Scarlett would be appalled! Dainty hankie to her brimming violet eyes, Lucy Holcombe Pickens, sweetheart of secession, held a lot of history in her alabaster hand.

From generations of old ladies, told darkly from the corners of their mouths, a kid "Growing Up Southern" heard just enough about this "Queen of the Confederacy" to be tantalized. And we hadn't heard NOTHIN' yet.

With a scholar's zeal, a reporter's curiosity and abundant human insight, journalist Emily Cooper has used the thread of fiction to bind scattered fact into a flowing narrative of how this Texas belle changed the world through charm. And other things.

Lucy dazzled men into just about anything -- including a disastrous invasion of Cuba, in which her beloved general of the day was gruesomely murdered. As a newlywed, and pregnant, she became the darling of the Tsar of Russia. What happened there, Mrs. Cooper can only speculate -- but with plenty of hot breathing. Anyway, His Majesty gave Lucy, wife of American ambassador Francis Pickens, lots and lots of jewels and a Sotheby's worth of crystal and silver.

But her tour de force was accomplished after Pickens became governor of South Carolina. Though Pickens, a reasonable and cautious (yeah, stuffy)old man, was in no hurry for secession from the Union, Lucy was -- she was anxious to keep her slaves.

Well, that didn't work. But despite the weight of tons of information, part of it told in editorial asides, and some stilted language borne out by authentic letters, the story does. It's a winner, for the legions still fascinated by the Civil War. And yes, it looks like some of that old gossip was true....

by Holly Weiss
Edition: Paperback
Price: $17.06
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sweet blossoms of another time drift on this breeze of a book...., August 24, 2010
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This review is from: Crestmont (Paperback)
Needed: an Adirondack chair, a cool, tall glass, and a transporting story, like this one, to leave the current age of tabloid trash and in-your-face dysfunction far behind.

Holly Weiss does not quite tell us why hopeful young singer Grace Antes was an unhappy girl, in her small-town Pennsylvania home. Or why her family, devout Moravians, seemed to care so little about her that no one went looking, when, with no adieu, she set out in search of a better life.

What Ms. Weiss does is to plant her gentle heroine in an excellently-drawn era of social stoicism, when "a family's business stays at home!" Any intimation of pain, personal angst (or ecstacy!) was considered Vulgar. Jerry Springer and Oprah would have found the well dry, in that time, when polite ladies still addressed their closest friends as Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Jones, and husbands were "The Mister."

It is a major act of daring when, once liberated, Grace bobs her hair, in timely flapper fashion, and then renames herself "Gracie," maybe the first frivolous thing she's ever done.

It becomes, increasingly, a joy to watch from the lakeside shadows as this lovely, innocent and gutsy young woman takes on the world, in the milieu of an old-time,upper-class resort, where she is maid, confidante, unwitting rival and, increasingly, object of affections.

The aura of the staid, class-conscious and studiedly non-intimate society holds well, throughout. There are things the reader would have loved to be privy to, along the way, and a few loose strands dangling, at the end. What really became of nemesis Bessie -- who WAS vulgar? And what happened to the men Gracie loved, but could not, would not marry?

Oh well -- that's the way it was, in that time -- it was just thought too coarse and common to let it all hang out!

A really good read, and recommended.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 1, 2010 2:49 PM PDT

The Marrowbone Marble Company: A Novel
The Marrowbone Marble Company: A Novel
by M. Glenn Taylor
Edition: Hardcover
113 used & new from $0.01

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Short Noble Life of the Marrowbone Republic, May 22, 2010
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Did we ever, down on our knees in the long-ago dust, with thumb to crystal taw, imagine our rainbow-hued marbles as a product of Utopia? Naw. Our minds were on "Winner Take All!"

It would be left to the brilliance of somebody like Glenn Taylor (of which there may be no other) to build an enthralling morality tale, swirling with character, incident and color, on a dimestore toy few electonics-addicted modern kids would likely know, or covet.

But it was marbles, made of scrap glass in a rickety old furnace, that paid for the autonomy of the civil, deeply decent community of Marrowbone, in the rough-cut hills of West Virginia. Utopian it was, under the smoke of its ceaseless industry, in a time of national upheaval -- the 1960s, age of peace-marching hippies and social atrocities, a crippling war in Vietnam and the all-out battle for human rights, in America.

Taylor's Marrowbone is a beautifully-described microcosm of Appalachian attitudes and characters, sometimes dubiously abetted by friends from the side of Chicago where violin cases did not mean Barn Dance Tonight. It is the realm of the Bonecutter twins, Wimpy and Dimple, infinitely wise, unwashed old men who are eerily in tune with the earth, and a welcome comic relief. It is white people and black people living side by side, working for survival in mutual respect -- in a time when such arrangements could incur wrath and violence from bystanders, and scant protection by The Law.

And, the makers of The Law, and enforcers thereof, included an element of vile crooks, mashers, bullies and oppressors sorrier than excrement. Yeah, not a lot has changed.

Taylor knows, and draws so well, the facets of Appalachian human nature that take just so much pushing around, before insult begets incendiary response. Marrowbone founder Loyal Ledford, soul-scarred veteran of World War II, personifies these qualities, trying to keep peace for the welfare of his family and neighbors. Pacifist village preacher Don Staples --while he lives -- keeps a scriptural rein on Ledford, while some of us nearer Ledford's native urges are breathing harder and turning redder, under such restraint. Well, suffice it to say that beloved Preacher Staples is a fragile old man whose time does sadly come, on the same day his role-model Martin Luther King is murdered.

It is for each of us who might have debated Staples to wonder what Jesus WOULD have done, confronted by the suited scum's assault on Ledford's young daughter, and the near-murder of his innocent, autistic son. Were the money-changers Jesus thrashed out of the temple more heinous than rapists and child-maimers?

The Marrowbone Marble Co. is a marvelous book for people who love to ponder justice, who care for history, and above all, for us who just love a fascinating story, exquisitely told. Yes, there are soft spots, like in a fine pound cake that could have stood another 10 minutes in the oven. But nothing is ruined, and the few becalmed moments only make the final chapters more delicious.

A keeper, and highly recommended.

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5.0 out of 5 stars It ain't about the Easter Bunny ...., March 20, 2009
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Excellent in evoking place, mood, characters and ominous sense of Bad Guy At Work, right up front. The syntax is right on. The houses may be 1930s but the lifestyle is as contemporary as they come. (Yes indeed there are bootlegger parlors today -- so-called "blue laws" that prevent sales of anything less potent than Sterno on Sundays, and Baptist dogma that Jesus drank only Classic Coke and sweet tea have kept much of the South dry at least on Sundays -- and many places all the time.) Ms. Newton has done a fine and strictly pro job of hooking at least this reader, who is now ready to be reeled in to the rest of this story. Only wish the book had a better name -- "Cotton Tales" does NOT come hopping down the Bunny Trail, as the name suggests. Rather, one has to traverse some pretty raunchy paths, one may predict, to get to where it seems this first-rate, real and truly human book is headed.

The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart
The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart
by M. Glenn Taylor
Edition: Paperback
116 used & new from $0.01

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Trenchmouth Ain't No Mealy-mouth, February 7, 2009
Trenchmouth Taggart aims for right between the eyes -- no hem-and-haw in these pages. Life is too short for nittering, even if that life lasts 108 full-throttle years. He's the ideal, outrageous outlaw hero of our time. Only his mouthful of rotten teeth keeps T.T. tethered to this earth; anything we can do, he can do much better -- except, maybe, kiss. And chew.
Whether by instinct or design, Glenn Taylor has given us what we may be looking for, in heart and spirit -- a story about a guy with a solid core of honor and integrity who only shoots to make the world a better place. This, following a couple of opening pages that may be the funniest set-up now in print.
This young man can write like crazy. May we see lots more from him.

With Music and Justice for All: Some Southerners and Their Passions
With Music and Justice for All: Some Southerners and Their Passions
by Frye Gaillard
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $23.70
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lessons in Courage That Never Lose Heart, April 12, 2008
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The work of Frye Gaillard has ever been a clear and unwavering voice for "the better part," toward whatever issue of our Southern societal upheavals it is directed.
Whether the matter is equal rights or country music or ankle-biting religion or the flash of fame that was the Squirrel Nut Zippers, the stories recounted here are evergreen.
The strength of them does not falter or grow stale because their base is not some abstraction, but so completely human. Shamelessly, indelibly, these are the stories of people. In every one, the impetus is courage --to follow one's conscience, to follow the dream, to hold off that day when the music could really die. Did we ever need this kind of inspiration more?

The Land Breakers
The Land Breakers
by John Ehle
Edition: Paperback
Price: $17.96
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Land and People, For All Time, October 17, 2006
This review is from: The Land Breakers (Paperback)
Simply, I do believe, the finest single piece of literature set in Appalachia. Loved it years ago; re-read it just now, cherishing every perfectly-chosen word and regional idiom, the living, breathing realness of the people, the mastery of how things worked in that hard time and place, where the loss of a crop, or the death of a dog, could end the story in starvation and terror.

It's a love story on the deepest level, of men and women, neighbors and kin, of an awesome, fearsome, seductive setting, and above all, of the land itself.

And such characters! Prideful, spiteful, empire-building little old Tinkler Harrison, who made his first profit on 14 hogs rustled from a neighbor; his shiftless, trifling brother-in-law Ernest Plover, fiddling beside the collapsed family lean-to while his flock of oblivious, barefooted, gorgeous young daughters dance gleefully in the snow; Mooney Wright, who must ultimately wrestle a monster bear to protect the stock that stands between his adopted family and hunger; and indeed the bear itself, who -- like every other tenant of that wild country, is neither saint nor total villain.

NOBODY can quite match John Ehle as a story-teller; in this, the first volume of a continuing Wright family saga, no word or image is wasted; they all lead somewhere. And caught up in them, we yearn to go along.

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