“Hello cousin Brad. Just letting you know that Dad died this morning. The last of that group of Bakers. Glad you got to visit. Love Connie.” I received the text at 9:33 pm last night as my wife and I sat on the couch watching television. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to think […]
The difference between Bob and I was just a matter of degree. Our lives had taken on eerily similar trajectories. Yet an objective observer would have likely said my life was empirically better. The difference between my cousin and I was this: I carried a deep-seated shame that he didn’t know.
“You waking up hungover in jail is right up my alley. The rest of it sounds too academic.” That’s what Alex Heard said to me during our conversation after he finished reading my proposal. I can’t say I jumped for joy at that critique, but the conversation that followed helped me frame what I wanted […]
What is Appalachia? When I tell stories about my family and its relationship to Clay County, Kentucky and the County Seat of Manchester, people tend to think I exaggerate. You hear about poverty, feuds, grudges, anger at the government, lack of formal education, and a general desperation, but they don’t seem real.
As I’ve worked on the book, I’ve had the opportunity to do quite a bit of traveling to visit important monuments to my family’s past and to meet relatives and friends of the family whom have kept our story alive. The one person I hadn’t had the chance to meet, though, was my grandmother’s youngest […]
Most people from outside the Appalachian region are bombarded with depictions of Appalachians as something otherworldly. This list of shows keeps me up at night and helps me slog through some of the less-than-glamourous parts of pursuing an independent publishing product.
For the true impact of modern technology to reach Appalachia, the government must provide help build that infrastructure, which includes not only building access points that make mobile technology usable throughout the region but also support the education measures necessary to turn that infrastructure on.
This past weekend, my wife and I decided to begin saving money for an RV, which would serve two family purposes: This would allow our family to travel for longer periods of time since we wouldn’t need to board the animals. We would still take our short camping trips, but come summer we could reasonable […]
A Hard Film to Swallow: The anti-drug documentary that West Virginians refuse to watch, via the New Republic ‘Oxyana’ maker defends lack of W.Va. fact-checking, via the The Williamson Daily News A controversial new documentary focused on the drug problem in a small Appalachian town has raised the ire of locals and area advocates. The […]
This blog is primarily about the Appalachian experience as it relates to my work on So Far Appalachia: An American mythology as told by the Bakers of Beckinghamshire. If I do my job well, though, that story will touch on larger American themes. While I haven’t had the chance to watch this Frontline piece yet, it’s […]
The Evolution of Appalachian Culture, via Yahoo Voices Almost without question, I grow concerned whenever I see people writing about Appalachia in broad sweeping terms. Unquestionably it’s a knee-jerk reaction to reading countless stories by people who characterize the region by its least common denominators. But this piece doesn’t fall into that. Instead it’s an […]
The ‘Lost Tribe of Appalachia, via Wired.com Legacy of the Lost Tribe’s Origin, via Wired.com Melungeon Secret Solved, Sort of, via Wired.com I’d never heard the term Melungeon until I worked at Wired. While I was there our science writer Kristen Philipkoski wrote a series of pieces about genetics and Appalachia. Since then, I’ve learned […]