James Still : A Life
LJ Reviews 2017 October #2
James Still, whose novel River of Earth (1940) depicted the coal mining life in eastern Kentucky and was regarded as the equal of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath during its time, is known as the "Dean of Appalachian literature." Born in Lafayette, AL, in 1906, Still spent most of his life in a log house on the Dead Mare Branch of the Little Carr Creek in Knott County, KY. While doing graduate work at Vanderbilt University, he became interested in the lives of the miners on the state's eastern side. His fiction, which was published in the Atlantic and the Saturday Evening Post, was recognized as being the best type of regional stories. He is the recipient of an O. Henry Award and the Southern Author's Award. Boggess, the president of the Appalachian Studies Association and a former English professor at Mars Hill University, met Still late in his life and, to her surprise, he selected her as his biographer. Her book is both a labor of respect for his work and an important reminder of his contributions to literature and Appalachian studies. Using interviews, archival materials, and Still's correspondence and journals, she offers insights into his personal and professional life.