RARA-AVIS: Re: Pancake & others

From: Moorich2@aol.com
Date: 18 Sep 2003

I should not be surprised that others on this list are familiar with Breece D'J Pancake but it is still gratifying to read the comments. As Todd mentioned, I think there is something about the coal territory that is given to suicide. My wife's people are from Harlan ("Bloody Harlan") and Bell County Kentucky and the depression there is something I am well aware of. Her Uncle Carl committed suicide even though back in 1945 he survived a fall from the eleventh floor of the Admiral Farragutt Hotel in Knoxville, Tenn. (a feat that got him into Ripley's Believe It Or Not). Carl didn't exactly "fall" as he was going out for a football pass and the quarterback overthrew...well, its a long story.
 I always wondered how a person who could be that lucky to live could later
(decades later I admit) decide to end it all by choice. I think I told the story of Uncle Carl at the 2001 Bouchercon in one of two impromptu evening storytelling "slams" with Joe Lansdale. Crider, who never drinks anything stronger than Dr. Pepper, can be the final word on that front. Now that I think of it, I don't think Lansdale was drinking either. Unfair advantage I say.

We are enduring a Hurricane here on the East Coast. Things are fine so far. We still have power, unlike most of my friends. Water is coming under the windows in the direction of the ocean but we mop it up with towels. The most desperate people I have seen today are those who splated against the ABC liquor store doors (which, state-owned, were all closed). But I am snug with plenty of Scotch (and if that goes I will venture into the wonderful Irish whiskey Red Breast) and I have plenty of wine. Oh yeah, and food as well.

Now to return to West Virginia writers (and beyond), I also recommend John Douglas. Novels include SHAWNEE ALLEY FIRE (St. Martin 1987), BLIND SPRING RAMBLER (St. Martin 1988) and HAUNTS (St. Martin 1990). I think, but am not positive, that he is also the writer by that name who has contributed to various music publications spectializing in the "Blues." Good stuff, Whoever wrote it!

I also recommend John Yount, another "mountain" writer, even though his fine novel HARDCASTLE about a violent coal strike features a villain with my wife's family name Cawood. I won't blame him for that. There is, afterall, a town named Cawood in Harlan County named after her great grandfather who achieved local fame (so I am told) by being the first person elected to Sheriff to live out his term of office.

I say all this without prejudice to mountain people (who are admittedly different from the mass) as my grandfather was born in Clay County, North Carolina
("Deliverance" territory) and his grandfather is buried in nearby Shooting Creek, N.C. The generation in between is buried at Blue Creek Baptist Church in White County Georgia, just across the state line from NC.

Richard Moore

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