Based on the author’s lifetime in East Tennessee and Kentucky, these stories neither over-romanticize the people as noble stalwarts struggling to maintain their culture in the face of overwhelming odds nor stereotype them as shotgun toting, banjo picking, ignorant hillbillies. The stories are of real folks who are at once caring, ambitious, desperate, loving, violent, and creative. They are of a people often battling themselves as much as they are the constraints of power, religion, and culture with which they live. All but the last story fall under the rubric of creative nonfiction although there are variations among the accounts in how much has been created. The first three, APPALACHIAN RAGE, COAL AND BRASS BEDS, and THE SELLING OF BOBBIE JO, are written as close to how the actual events and conversations occurred as memory allows. The situation, setting, and occurrences depicted in DADDY PREACHES AT THE HOLINESS CHURCH are factual with the exception of those described in the last two paragraphs. The events, though, happened to several different individuals and not to members of one family. FIT FOR A BABY is a true story, known but not directly experienced by the author. The conversations to which he was not privy have been fictionalized as have the biographies of the main characters. In WISPS, the emotional angst, the personal turmoil, the desperation of all involved, and the outcome are all real. The conversations expressing these and details of specific events were hidden behind familial walls of secrecy and shame and are, by necessity, fictionalized. The plot and the ending of PIERCING OAK RIDGE NATIONAL LABORATORIES are fiction. The primary characters, the geographical setting, the historical events and many of the interactions described are true.
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