Appalachia North is the first book-length treatment of the cultural position of northern Appalachia—roughly the portion of the official Appalachian Regional Commission zone that lies above the Mason-Dixon line. For Matthew Ferrence this region fits into a tight space of not-quite: not quite “regular” America and yet not quite Appalachia.
Ferrence’s sense of geographic ambiguity is compounded when he learns that his birthplace in western Pennsylvania is technically not a mountain but, instead, a dissected plateau shaped by the slow, deep cuts of erosion. That discovery is followed by the diagnosis of a brain tumor, setting Ferrence on a journey that is part memoir, part exploration of geology and place. Appalachia North is an investigation of how the labels of Appalachia have been drawn and written, and also a reckoning with how a body always in recovery can, like a region viewed always as a site of extraction, find new territories of growth.
A Preface (of Sorts)
2. This Is Not a Mountain
3. Marginal Appalachia
4. Appalachian Flesh, Appalachian Bone
5. Learning to Say Appalachia
6. The Molt
8. Reading Like an Appalachian
9. Journey to Canappalachia
Matthew Ferrence teaches creative writing at Allegheny College, where he lives and writes at the confluence of the Rust Belt and Appalachia. He and his family divide their time between northwestern Pennsylvania and Prince Edward Island, Canada.
"Appalachia North is a lyrical homage to a region often misunderstood and overlooked. Ferrence’s engulfing prose brings to life an Appalachia north of the Mason-Dixon line and he does it with the eye of an honest poet."
“Matthew Ferrence pushes boundaries—literal and figurative—asking difficult questions of himself and of us all. He offers us new metaphors, new maps, new ways to understand ourselves and this world. Hold it, dear reader, and read.”
Jim Minick, author of Fire Is Your Water
“Too often, Appalachian identity gets treated like it’s (a) Southern and (b) the same for everyone. Matthew Ferrence’s insightful, thoughtful essays show us a more refreshing complexity than either of these stereotypes allows. This is a must-read for anyone looking for deeper meaning about Appalachia and life within it.”
Amanda Hayes, author of The Politics of Appalachian Rhetoric