Appalachian Reckoning: A Region Responds to Hillbilly Elegy

 

Edited by Anthony Harkins and Meredith McCarroll

March 2019
432pp 
PB 978-1-946684-79-0
$28.99
CL 978-1-946684-78-3
$99.99
eBook 978-1-946684-80-6
$28.99
 

Summary

With hundreds of thousands of copies sold, a Ron Howard movie in the works, and the rise of its author as a media personality, J. D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis has defined Appalachia for much of the nation. What about Hillbilly Elegy accounts for this explosion of interest during this period of political turmoil? Why have its ideas raised so much controversy? And how can debates about the book catalyze new, more inclusive political agendas for the region’s future?

Appalachian Reckoning is a retort, at turns rigorous, critical, angry, and hopeful, to the long shadow Hillbilly Elegy has cast over the region and its imagining. But it also moves beyond Hillbilly Elegy to allow Appalachians from varied backgrounds to tell their own diverse and complex stories through an imaginative blend of scholarship, prose, poetry, and photography. The essays and creative work collected in Appalachian Reckoning provide a deeply personal portrait of a place that is at once culturally rich and economically distressed, unique and typically American. Complicating simplistic visions that associate the region almost exclusively with death and decay, Appalachian Reckoning makes clear Appalachia’s intellectual vitality, spiritual richness, and progressive possibilities.

Contents
 

Acknowledgments                                                                                                                       
Introduction: Why This Book? | Anthony Harkins and Meredith McCarroll                             

Part I. Considering Hillbilly Elegy

Interrogating

Hillbilly Elitism
T. R. C. Hutton                                                                                                 

Social Capital
Jeff Mann                                                                                                          

Once Upon a Time in “Trumpalachia”: Hillbilly Elegy, Personal Choice, and the Blame Game
Dwight B. Billings       

Stereotypes on the Syllabus: Exploring Hillbilly Elegy’s Use as an Instructional Text at Colleges and Universities
Elizabeth Catte   

Benham, Kentucky, Coalminer / Wise County, Virginia, Landscape
Theresa Burriss           

Panning for Gold: A Reflection of Life from Appalachia
Ricardo Nazario y Colón                    

Will the Real Hillbilly Please Stand Up? Urban Appalachian Migration and Culture Seen through the Lens of Hillbilly Elegy
Roger Guy     

What Hillbilly Elegy Reveals about Race in Twenty-First-Century America
Lisa R. Pruitt     

Prisons Are Not Innovation
Lou Murrey                                                                                  

Down and Out in Middletown and Jackson: Drugs, Dependency, and Decline in J. D. Vance’s Capitalist Realism
Travis Linnemann and Corina Medley        

Responding

Keep Your “Elegy”: The Appalachia I Know Is Very Much Alive
Ivy Brashear                      

HE Said/SHE Said
Crystal Good                                                                                               

The Hillbilly Miracle and the Fall
Michael E. Maloney                                                            

Elegies
Dana Wildsmith                                                                                                             

In Defense of J. D. Vance
Kelli Hansel Haywood                                                                   

It’s Crazy Around Here, I Don’t Know What to Do about It, and I’m Just a Kid
Allen Johnson

“Falling in Love,” Balsam Bald, the Blue Ridge Parkway, 1982
Danielle Dulken                 

Black Hillbillies Have No Time for Elegies
William H. Turner                                                 

Part II. Beyond Hillbilly Elegy

Nothing Familiar
Jesse Graves                                                                                                  

History
Jesse Graves                                                                                                                

Tether and Plow
Jesse Graves                                                                                                   

On and On: Appalachian Accent and Academic Power
Meredith McCarroll                           

Olivia’s Ninth Birthday Party
Rebecca Kiger                                                                         

Kentucky, Coming and Going
Kirstin L. Squint                                                                        

Resistance, or Our Most Worthy Habits
Richard Hague                                                          

Notes on a Mountain Man
Jeremy B. Jones                                                                                

These Stories Sustain Me: The Wyrd-ness of My Appalachia
Edward Karshner                     

Watch Children
Luke Travis                                                                                                   

The Mower—1933
Robert Morgan                                                                                          

Consolidate and Salvage
Chelsea Jack                                                                                     

How Appalachian I Am
Robert Gipe                                                                                           

Aunt Rita along the King Coal Highway, Mingo County, West Virginia
Roger May               

Holler
Keith S. Wilson                                                                                                               

Loving to Fool with Things
Rachel Wise                                                                                

Antebellum Cookbook
Kelly Norman Ellis                                                                              

How to Make Cornbread, or Thoughts on Being an Appalachian from Pennsylvania Who Calls Virginia Home but Now Lives in Georgia
Jim Minick               

Tonglen for My Mother
Linda Parsons                                                                                       

Olivia at the Intersection
Meg Wilson                                                                                      

Appalachian Apophenia, or The Psychogeography of Home
Jodie Childers                            

Canary Dirge
Dale Marie Prenatt                                                                                              

Poet, Priest, and “Poor White Trash”
Elizabeth Hadaway                                                           

List of Contributors                                                                                                                    
Sources and Permissions                                                                                                            
Index 

Author

Anthony Harkins is a professor of history at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky, where he teaches courses in popular culture and twentieth-century United States history and American studies. He is the author of Hillbilly: A Cultural History of an American Icon.

Meredith McCarroll is the director of writing and rhetoric at Bowdoin College, where she teaches courses in writing, American literature, and film. She is the author of Unwhite: Appalachia, Race, and Film.

Reviews

“In this illuminating and wide-ranging collection, the authors do more than just debunk the simplistic portrayal of white poverty found in Hillbilly Elegy. They profoundly engage with the class, racial, and political reasons behind a Silicon Valley millionaire’s sudden triumph as the most popular spokesman for what one contributor cleverly calls ‘Trumpalachia.’ This book is a powerful corrective to the imperfect stories told of the white working class, rural life, mountain folk, and the elusive American Dream.”
Nancy Isenberg, author of White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America

“So often the song of this place has been reduced to a single off-key voice out of tune and out of touch. Appalachian Reckoning is the sound of the choir, pitch perfect in its capturing of these mountains and their people. This book is not only beautiful, but needed.” 
David Joy, author of The Line That Held Us

“This edited volume continues the rich Appalachian studies tradition of pushing back against one-sided caricatures of Appalachian people. The essays, poems, and photo-essays in this book demonstrate the diversity of Appalachian perspectives on the serious problems facing our nation as well as the role that myths about Appalachia continue to play in US policy debates. This is a must-read for everyone who read (or refused to read) J. D. Vance’s deeply flawed, best-selling memoir, Hillbilly Elegy.
Shaunna Scott, University of Kentucky