What Our Writers Are Reading Now

What Our Writers Are Reading Now

We asked three of our contributing writers to tell us about a book they are currently reading. The poetry of Marianne Worthington (“I Saw Bobby Bare Kiss Marty Stuart”) and Doug Van Gundy (“Listening to a Recording of Edden Hammons Playing ‘General Washington’s March'”), and the creative nonfiction of Karen Salyer McElmurray (“Let Evening Come”), appeared in the Summer 2015 issue of Appalachian Heritage.

Appalachia NowMarianne Worthington: Currently I’m reading Appalachia Now: Short Stories of Contemporary Appalachia, edited by Charles Dodd White and Larry Smith. I admire writers who have mastered the short story genre, and some of my favorite short story writers are included in this volume. I also admire how the writers show us real truths about the region. Charles Dodd White says it best in his introduction: “Appalachia is a perpetual invention, a sneaky dancer that finds a way to dance somewhere out at the edge of what we think it was, what it is, and what we expect it to be. Represented here are many Appalachias.”

queen of the fallKaren Salyer McElmurray: Right now I am reading Queen of the Fall, by Sonja Livingston. It is a memoir made of short pieces–fragments, short essays–about the women who [are] in our memories, women from history, media, images, icons, litanies from the radio. The pretty girl from high school who ended up being a stripper at Barrel of Dolls.  Our Lady of the Lakes from the label on a butter carton. Susan B. Anthony, she of the serious face and alligator purse.  I’m about halfway through this memoir and loving the places inside it takes me.

lives of the animalsDoug Van Gundy: I have been reading the poems of Robert Wrigley lately, particularly those in his 2003 book, Lives of the Animals.  Wrigley’s work is so tender, so thoughtful and so lyrical, and yet so unsentimental.  Wrigley finds poetry in unlikely places – in the moment of hitting a deer on the highway or in the action of kissing a horse on the mouth – but the poems never feel “gimmicky” or that they were born from some writing prompt; they are organic and authentic. I was delighted to discover Wrigley only recently, and surprised that I somehow missed him until now. When I first read him, I felt like I had just met an uncle I didn’t know existed.  Now I can’t wait to read his other half-dozen books.


Featured photo by Unsplash/Mikhail Pavstyuk


Caroline Hughes is a Student Associate at Appalachian Heritage. She will receive her degree in English with a Writing Concentration and minor in Music from Berea College in May 2016. In the past three years, she has traveled to Ireland, England, and Scotland on study abroad trips, and completed an internship at the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning in Lexington, Kentucky. After graduation, she plans to attend graduate school, continue writing, and travel the world.

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