Book explores experiences of Appalachia

October 7, 2011 Review Print Print
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In a world…where information can be hunted down in mere instants…one school set out to do the impossible. To record history, and preserve the past…before it slipped away…

In 1966, a little high school in Georgia called Rabun Gap – Nacoochee School created a program to record the stories, experiences and knowledge of the natives of Appalachia.

They called the program “Foxfire.”

This year, Foxfire released “The Foxfire 45th Anniversary Book,” a collection of stories and tales spanning the history of the project.

Published by Anchor Books, the volume holds true to the tone of previous Foxfire anthologies. There’s a little something for everyone.

There’s true accounts of life lived in the Appalachian Mountains at the turn of the last century, told in the words of the person who lived it, with colorful personalities and voices like Sammy Green and Madge Merrell.

For the lore enthusiast, there are folktales and legends, transcribed straight from the words of those telling the tale.

From a story for Halloween, to a man named Greg Stancil talking about his encounter with the Devil.

And there’s the classic Foxfire how-to section, featuring tutorials ranging from how to tie a lover’s knot, to forging a drawknife and braiding a whip.

But the most powerful element is the way the voices of these people come through.

Reading these stories is like sitting down with the speakers and having a conversation.

Of course, the drawback to straight transcription is that it reads choppy, with none of the polishing that the modern reader is used to.

Instead of the carefully constructed material one is used to imbibing in books, Foxfire is written out in plain speech.

For the casual reader, the history buff, the nature enthusiast, or those just looking to recapture the feeling of sitting with one’s grandparents and listening to their stories, Foxfire should be at the top of the list.

But for those who want a more polished read, or are seeking happy endings and fiction, it’d be best to look elsewhere.

Rating: A

To contact Jeremy Cloud, email editor@occc.edu.

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