James Still in Interviews, Oral Histories and Memoirs

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About the Book

One of the most admired and influential authors to work in and write about Appalachia, James Still excelled in every genre of literature in which he worked, from novels and short stories to poetry, children’s books, and folklore collections. This book is intended to help readers more fully understand and appreciate the many facets of Still’s literary voice and vision, compiling transcribed versions of virtually all the interviews and oral histories ever conducted with James Still, along with numerous memoirs in which some of the leading voices in the Appalachian studies movement memorably express their appreciation for Still and his literary legacy.

About the Author(s)

Ted Olson lives in Johnson City, Tennessee, and teaches Appalachian Studies and English at East Tennessee State University.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Ted Olson

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 320
Bibliographic Info: 15 photos, notes, index
Copyright Date: 2009
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3698-9
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9222-0
Imprint: McFarland
Series: Contributions to Southern Appalachian Studies

Table of Contents

Preface      1
Introduction: The Source of the River: James Still’s Literary Legacy
TED OLSON      3

I. Still in His Own Words: Interviews and Oral Histories
James Still: Portrait of the Artist as a Boy in Alabama
WADE HALL      13
An Interview with James Still
J. W. WILLIAMSON      23
“Daring to Look in the Well”: A Conversation
JAMES STILL and JIM WAYNE MILLER      44
An Interview with James Still
TOM and CAROL FRENCH-CORBETT and LOIS KLEFFMAN      58
An Interview with James Still
LAURA LEE and FOXFIRE STUDENTS            73
Pattern of a Writer: Attitudes of James Still
DEAN CADLE      98
James Still on His Life and Work: An Interview
JUDITH JENNINGS      133
James Still: Conversation with a Kentucky Writer
L. ELISABETH BEATTIE      155
Conversations with James Still
FRANK EDWARD BOURNE      176

II. Still on Other People’s Minds: Memoirs
Obscurity Begins Back Home for Kentucky’s James Still
RENA NILES      185
“I Write Because I’m Unhappy When Not Writing”—James Still
GURNEY NORMAN      192
“…Some things a man does just for himself ”: In Regard to Writing, That’s the Philosophy of Gifted Kentucky Author-Poet James Still
JOE CREASON      195
Before Saying Yes: Discovering James Still’s “First Sweetheart”
ANN W. OLSON      201
James “Lucky” Still: A Fortunate Man
CAROL BOGGESS      205
Sgt. James Still’s Gold Castings
JACK D. ELLIS      216
Both Ends of a Walnut Log: The Correspondence of James Still and Jesse Stuart
JAMES M. GIFFORD and ERIN KAZEE      219
Why Does Knott County Send the Largest Ratio of Graduates to College?
JESSE STUART      233
Personal Memories of James Still and Jesse Stuart: These Noted Writers Had a Great Effect on a Young Knott Countian
WILLIAM HENRY YOUNG      236
Green Peppers and a Straw Hat
JAN WALTERS COOK      240
Travels with Mr. Still: In Search of Richard Jefferies
JUDITH JENNINGS      242
Still Writing After All these Years: An Author Who Began His Career Nearly a Half Century Ago in Hindman, Kentucky, Is Being Rediscovered and Honored
SHIRLEY WILLIAMS      248
Writing About James Still: “Be ye in the world, but not of the world”
HERB E. SMITH      257
A Memoir of James Still
JONATHAN GREENE      261
In Remembrance of James Still
LINC. FISCH      265
Terrain of the Heart
LEE SMITH      276
Remembering James Still
SILAS HOUSE      279
Remarks at James Still’s Funeral (May 1, 2001)
LOYAL JONES      283
His Side of the Mountains: The Enduring Legacy of Southern Poet James Still; An Interview with Editor Ted Olson
JEFF BIGGERS      285
Reflections on Pappy Still
TERESA L. PERRY REYNOLDS      292
On the Occasion of James Still’s 100th Birthday
HAL CROWTHER      298

Index      303

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Olson has assembled a variety of interviews with Still and reminiscences and tributes by writers who knew him. This collection allows one to get to know the man and serves as a complement to an earlier collection titled James Still: Critical Essays on the Dean of Appalachian Literature”—The Journal of Southern History
  • “though I think and hope, of course, that James Still will always be associated with his region, I also look forward to the day when he will not be identified quite so invariably as ‘an Appalachian writer.’ For I think and hope also, in fact I know, that the value of good regional writing extends far beyond its region, and I think James Still, by any standard, is a supreme writer.”—Wendell Berry
  • “this book is important not only because of the lasting legacy of its subject, but also because of the great line-up of contributors, including many who knew James Still well: Jesse Stuart, Dean Cadle, Wade Hall, Jim Wayne Miller, Gurney Norman, Shirley Williams, William Henry Young, and Herb E. Smith. This effort will be very useful not only to those interested in Mr. Still, but also to those who wish to learn more about many of the important figures who share their reflections on Still in this book.”—George Brosi, Appalachian Heritage