Chinaberry

Overview

Celebrated as the "Dean of Appalachian Literature," James Still has won the appreciation of audiences in Appalachia and beyond for more than seventy years. The author of the classics River of Earth (1940) and The Wolfpen Poems (1986), Still is known for his careful prose construction and for the poetry of his meticulous, rhythmic style. Upon his death, however, one manuscript remained unpublished. Still's friends, family, and fellow writer Silas House will now deliver this story to readers, having assembled and ...
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Chinaberry

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Overview

Celebrated as the "Dean of Appalachian Literature," James Still has won the appreciation of audiences in Appalachia and beyond for more than seventy years. The author of the classics River of Earth (1940) and The Wolfpen Poems (1986), Still is known for his careful prose construction and for the poetry of his meticulous, rhythmic style. Upon his death, however, one manuscript remained unpublished. Still's friends, family, and fellow writer Silas House will now deliver this story to readers, having assembled and refined the manuscript to prepare it for publication. Chinaberry, named for the ranch that serves as the centerpiece of the story, is Still's last and perhaps greatest contribution to American literature.

Chinaberry follows the adventures of a young boy as he travels to Texas from Alabama in search of work on a cotton farm. Upon arriving, he discovers the ranch of Anson and Lurie Winters, a young couple whose lives are defined by hard work, family, and a tragedy that haunts their past. Still's entrancing narrative centers on the boy's experience at the ranch under Anson's watchful eye and Lurie's doting care, highlighting the importance of home, whether it is defined by people or a place.

In this celebration of the art of storytelling, Still captures a time and place that are gone forever and introduces the reader to an unforgettable cast of characters, illustrating the impact that one person can have on another. A combination of memoir and imagination, truth and fiction, Chinaberry is a work of art that leaves the reader in awe of Still's mastery of language and thankful for the lifetime of wisdom that manifests itself in his work.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Nobody has come up with a definitive explanation that nails down the common qualities of Appalachian Literature, but few would argue that the late James Still is one of its icons."—Knoxville News-Sentinel" —

"There's a lot to like about this book. Still's fans will want to have it because it is his last work. Those who appreciate the history of literature will be able to ponder the many unanswered questions that remain about the author and this manuscript. Then of course, there is Still's writing, and this book may contain some of his very finest."—Modern Mountain Magazine" —

"A moving story.... "Chinaberry," the name of the ranch and of the novel, also represents the magical environment of one's coming of age."—Ashville Citizen Times" —

" Chinaberry, a novel, might be Still's best writing yet." —Cincinnati Magazine" —

"Chinaberry's greatest merit is James Still's ability to capture the essence of a world that no longer exists... I responded to this little novel as a kind of fantasy 'with ticks and chiggers.'" — Smoky Mountain News" —

"In this tale of a young boy who travels from Alabama to Texas to work on a cotton farm, Still artfully addresses the meaning of family and the impact that one person can have in the lives of others." — Paintsville Herald" —

"The memory of an Appalachian who can never completely let go of his Alabama home."—Now and Then" —

"Chinaberry preserves a time and place of vast cotton fields, free range cattle on huge ranches, and a different kind of life in which the characters and relationships make one wish for more. Highly recommended. — Frances M. Ramsey" — Frances M. Ramsey

Publishers Weekly
A classic story of adolescence by the late Still (1906–2001; River of Earth) pursues migrant workers from Alabama to an East Texas ranch. The 13-year-old narrator has accompanied his father's friend, Ernest, and two young men to Texas looking for work; the barefoot boy is small for his age, and as they pass through an East Texas town, he attracts the attention of a wealthy farmer, Anson Winters, who invites the four of them back to his Chinaberry ranch to stay and work for the summer. Anson lost his son several years before and has not gotten over it; also a widower, he has remarried the lovely Lurie, though in three years of marriage they still have no children of their own. The narrator is installed in Anson and Lurie's bedroom and otherwise spoiled, evidence of Anson's transference of affection to the boy, while Lurie intimates that she and the boy are mere substitutes. The reader is never quite certain where Still is leading—editor House wonders about this in his helpful intro—which leaves a heavy feeling of unfinished-ness about the project, but there are small nostalgic pleasures to be found in reading this simple story of Americana, directly told. (Apr.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813141091
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
  • Publication date: 7/17/2012
  • Pages: 172
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

James Still (1906—2001) was the author of several works of fiction and poetry, including River of Earth, The Wolfpen Poems, and From the Mountain, From the Valley.

Silas House is the bestselling author of Clay's Quilt, A Parchment of Leaves, The Coal Tattoo, Eli the Good, and Something's Rising: Appalachians Fighting Mountaintop Removal. House is NEH Chair in Appalachian Studies at Berea College in Berea, Kentucky.

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