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    Bloodroot: Reflections on Place by Appalachian Women Writers

    Date Published:
    University of Kentucky Press 200o

    Book Review #1:
    A broad sampling of deeply impressive writings--essays, memoirs, poetry, letters, storiesby women from the Southern Highlands, edited by Dyer (In a Tangled Wood, not reviewed). If the word Appalachia conjures little more for you than mining disasters and Walker Evans photos, turn these pages and discover the remarkable storytelling tradition that flourished there, and thrives still. Every one of these 35 pieces goes down smooth as a glass of Georgia peach, even when it bites. A few of the names of the contributors will be familiarNikki Giovanni and Gail Godwin, Jayne Anne Phillips, whose offering is a terrific out-of-time remembrance of her hometown, circa 1962but most of the women here (all were born in the 20th century) have toiled long and hard, often in obscurity, their love of words keeping the storytelling art aliveand high art it is. Each writer was asked to address how the Appalachias had affected them (whites, African-Americans, and Native Americans are represented). There are good doses of the stubborn, rooted poetry of attachment by Kathryn Stripling Byer, Rita Sims Quillen, and others. Lou V.P. Crabtree, a certified old soul, tenders a stark, lyric portrait of Price Hollow; Hilda Downer's depiction of Bandana``named for the red bandana Clinchfield Railroad tied to a laurel branch to denote an imaginary train station''is more sensuous. Denise Gardinia tells of losing her innocence to grammar, and Ellesa Clay High takes readers on a tour of her home patch through a ``soft female rain that can last for days heresomething we share with Seattle and other places.'' There are 26 others, each as deserving of mention as the next. This collection won the 1997 Appalachian Studies Award -- likely hands down, and deservedly so. Kirkus Reviews