Notes on Fiction in the Mountain South:
Phyllis Wilson Moore

Meredith Sue Willis Home

Various Kinds of Writing About the Region

By Phyllis Wilson Moore, 2012
Explorers, naturalist; letterwriters, surveyors, journalist, pioneers: George Washington Missionaries, tourist, travel writers, journalist, and settlers: Ann Royall and David Hunter Strother are two examples.
The media, the visitor, the native, the educated settlers of the county seats and small towns Children of the veterans and children of the immigrants The land; the environment; family relationships; industrial and political issues, religion; The ports of entry: New York; Baltimore; Philadelphia.
From The Planting of Presbyterianism in the Northern Neck of Virginia (no author given):

"The presence of the Scotch-Irish was not welcomed…. They were regarded as 'pugnacious' people and undesirable neighbors. In 1724 an officer of one of the Provinces wrote, 'It looks to me as if Ireland is to send all its inhabitants hither; for last week not less than six ships arrived. The common fear is that if they thus continue to come, they will make themselves proprietors of the Province. It is strange that they thus crowd where they are not wanted.'" The book goes on to say, the immigrants were driven from their settlements, their cabins burned, and they were told to move further into the wilderness.



A Sampling of More Recent Literature

A sampling of the more recent literature includes works related to farming, mining, mill work, lumbering, banking, gas and oil The land and natural disasters; health care, religion, family ties, immigration, politics, industrial greed
River of Earth by James Still. This novel shows the initial attraction coal mining had for subsistence farmers. Still, born in Alabama, spent most of his life in Kentucky.
Fair and Tender Ladies by Lee Smith. This is the story of a traditional mountain woman of the 1900s. Smith is from Grundy, Virginia.
New Found by Jim Wayne Miller. The story of a farm boy in North Carolina; set in the 1940-1950's. Miller grew up in North Carolina and spent his adult life in Kentucky.
Gap Creek by Robert Morgan. A novel based on the lives of Morgan's North Carolina grandparents. Morgan, like Jim Wayne Miller, grew up on a farm with grandparents near-by.
Machine Dreams by Jayne Anne Phillips of Buckhannon, WV. This novel illuminates small town life and family dynamics in a Buckhannon-like town in West Virginia during and after the Vietnam War.
Addie: A Memoir by Mary Lee Settle of Cedar Grove and Charleston, WV. This is a heartfelt memoir of Settle's childhood and her love of her grandmother, Addie Tompkins.
Storming Heaven and The Unquiet Earth by Denise Giardina of Black Wolf and Charleston, WV. Both of these award winning novels deal with the coal mine wars in WV. Giardina grew up in a coal camp which was later demolished by the company.
Hawk's Nest by Hubert Skidmore. This muck raking novel tells of the industrial tragedy at Hawk's Nest, WV during the Great Depression. Some say it is an Appalachian Grapes of Wrath. Skidmore was born in Webster Springs, WV.
The Dollmaker by Harriette Arnow . This classic novel tells of the trauma resulting from a mountain family's move to Detroit during World War II. Arnow was a Kentucky author.
The Tall Woman by Wilma Dykeman. Dykeman's life was spent in North Carolina and Tennessee. This historical novel is set in the mountains during the Civil War and features a resilient woman.
The Land Breaker by John Ehle. This novel depicts the settlement of the North Carolina mountains by pioneers and provides rich gritty details about frontier daily life.
Look Homeward Angel by Thomas Wolfe. This autobiographical fiction reveals life in the 1920s in Asheville, North Carolina.
Voices of Glory by Davis Grubb of Moundsville, WV. This novel takes place in a town modeled on Grubb's boyhood home, Moundsville. It focuses on the small town class systems and the life and politics involved in daily survival. Grubb's other novels round out a reader's knowledge of WV literature: Night of the Hunter; Fools' Parade; The Barefoot Man.
Colored People: A Memoir by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Gates reveals life in Piedmont, West Virginia, before and after integration.
Rocket Boys: A Memoir by Homer H. Hickam, Jr. Hickam's memoir focuses on life in a small coal town in the 1960s. It is the story of boys interested in science and space travel in his hometown, Coalwood, West Virginia.
Legacy of Love by Julia Davis. Davis grew up nurtured by educated wealthy grandparents in Clarksburg and Charles Town, West Virginia. This loving book tells of her life with these two very different sets of grandparents. She writes with humor.
Miss 4th of July, Goodbye by Christopher Janus. This novel is based on his parent's experiences as Greek immigrants to Montgomery, WV, in the 1920s. Janus grew up in Montgomery.
Beetle Creek by William Demby. This coming of age story is set in the African American neighborhood of a town like Clarksburg, WV. It is considered one of the nation's early important novels dealing with segregation in the North. Demby lived in Clarksburg as a young man before entering World War II.
Daughter of the Legend by Jesse Stuart. This is a romantic work revolving around a Melungeon girl and a non-Melungeon admirer. Stuart was a Kentucky author.
A Vein of Riches by John Knowles. This coal baron versus the coal camp novel takes place in a town like Fairmont. It depicts the class struggles in the town during the coal boom of the 1920-30s. Life in the segregated camps is well drawn. Knowles was a native of Fairmont.
Crum by Lee Maynard. This coming of age novel is set in the town of Crum, WV. It is the story of an intelligent rebellious boy wanting out. Maynard grew up in Crum.
The Silver Ghost by Chuck Kinder. A coming of age novel set in southern West Virginia; it is a humorous look at a poetic/rebellious boy. Kinder grew up in southern West Virginia.
Alex Driving South by Keith Maillard. Set in a fictional version of Wheeling, this is the coming of age story of a confused young man about to leave home for college. Maillard grew up in Wheeling. WV.
Farewell I'm Bound to Leave You by Fred Chappell . North Carolina's Fred Chappell's novel spins around family stories passed down by woman.
Milkweed Ladies: A Memoir by Louise McNeill of Buckeye, West Virginia, is a beautifully written look at the folkways of a family with deep root in Pocahontas County.
The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls. Walls spent many of her formative years living in poverty in Welch, WV. Her memoir recounts hery life with her dysfunctional family.
Higher Ground : A Novel by Meredith Sue Willis is story of a young girl's high school days in a town like Shinnston, WV. The girl, now grown, returns for a high school reunion. Willis grew up in Shinnston, WV.
West by West: My Charmed Tormented Life by Jerry West and Jonathan Coleman. It this revealing and touching memoir West talks about his difficult childhood in Chelyan, WV and his problems accepting fame.
More Authors:
Silas House
Jeff Mann
Ron Rash


Where to Find Books

Ttry your local independent bookstore. For online shopping, try Bookfinder,   Advanced Book Exchange and Alibris.