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The Wolfpen Notebooks: A Record of Appalachian Life

by James Still

Availablepaperback$30.00s 978-0-8131-9344-1
Availablecloth$70.00x 978-0-8131-1741-6
192 pages  Pubdate: 11/13/2009  6 x 9  illus

After keeping school for six years at the forks of Troublesome Creek in the Kentucky hills, James Still moved to a century-old log house between the waters of Wolfpen Creek and Dead Mare Branch, on Little Carr Creek, and became “the man in the bushes” to his curious neighbors. Still joined the life of the scattered community. He raised his own food, preserved fruits and vegetables for the winter, and kept two stands of bees for honey. A neighbor remarked of Still, “He’s left a good job, and come over in here and sot down.”

Still did sit down and write—the classic novel River of Earth and many poems and short stories that have found their way into national publications. From the beginning, Still jotted down expressions, customs, and happenings unique to the region. After half a century those jottings filled twenty-one notebooks. Now they have been brought together in The Wolfpen Notebooks, together with an interview with Still, a glossary, a comprehensive bibliography of his work by William Terrell Cornett, and examples of Still’s use of the “sayings” in poetry and prose. The “sayings” represent an aspect of the Appalachian experience not previously recorded and of a time largely past.

James Still’s fiction has won numerous awards, including the Marjorie Peabody Waite Award and the O. Henry Memorial Prize.

Open at almost any page and you'll be struck by the wonderful Appalachian idiom that Still has captured in his jottings. -- Huntington Herald Dispatch

It is rare that so much information is given by a writer on his own use of folklore in literature . . . an important publication. -- Journal of American Folklore

Illustrates the rich and varied nature of Appalachian lore and conversation. -- Register of the Kentucky Historical Society