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Appalachian Reckoning: A Region Responds to…
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Appalachian Reckoning: A Region Responds to Hillbilly Elegy (udgave 2019)

af Anthony Harkins (editor) & Meredith McCarroll (editor) (Forfatter)

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753288,451 (3.14)Ingen
"With hundreds of thousands of copies sold, a Ron Howard movie in the works, and the rise of its author as a media personality, J. D. Vance's Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis has defined Appalachia for much of the nation. What about Hillbilly Elegy accounts for this explosion of interest during this period of political turmoil? Why have its ideas raised so much controversy? And how can debates about the book catalyze new, more inclusive political agendas for the region's future? Appalachian Reckoning is a retort, at turns rigorous, critical, angry, and hopeful, to the long shadow Hillbilly Elegy has cast over the region and its imagining. But it also moves beyond Hillbilly Elegy to allow Appalachians from varied backgrounds to tell their own diverse and complex stories through an imaginative blend of scholarship, prose, poetry, and photography. The essays and creative work collected in Appalachian Reckoning provide a deeply personal portrait of a place that is at once culturally rich and economically distressed, unique and typically American. Complicating simplistic visions that associate the region almost exclusively with death and decay, Appalachian Reckoning makes clear Appalachia's intellectual vitality, spiritual richness, and progressive possibilities."--Back cover.… (mere)
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Like many other people I had read 'Hillbilly Elegy' and like others I wasn't really impressed with the books. Indeed, I thought the response that came out not long after the book's release was interesting and was more curious to read more on the responses to the book. I had already read one (Elizabeth Catte's What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia--Catte also appears here) but I didn't find it particularly informative since it was really more about responding to Vance than actually explaining what people got wrong about Appalachia.

So I had been looking forward to this. An entire region responding? That sounded interesting!

Ultimately I had found this similar to Catte. I think what I had been hoping for was a response to Vance with something like Vance's book: another person's story to show how different this was. This text is really more about being used in a classroom setting to study and respond to Vance at the academic level. And there's nothing wrong with that but it was super tough to read.

Don't get me wrong: a lot of the responses are good and interesting to read. I'm glad that people who responded pointed out the errors in Vance's book and what he was missing. But this was a really difficult read. It might have worked better if I had read it in the context of a class but as a recreational read I'd recommend the library. ( )
  HoldMyBook | May 1, 2019 |
When Hillbilly Elegy came out, it landed like a thunderclap, perhaps because it was released during the 2016 election and was perceived as an explanation of the inexplicable popularity of Donald Trump. I put it on hold at the library, but before I read it, I listened to a few interviews with him on television and canceled my hold on the book. It was clear he was just one more advocate for abandoning the poor, only this pathologizing the white working class of Appalachia based solely on his own family experience. Nonetheless, the stereotypes in Vance’s book have proven popular and enduring, so I was very interested in reading Appalachian Reckoning, a collection of responses to the book, from academic rebuttals and personal essays to poetry and photography.

From the Protestant Work Ethic to the Prosperity Gospel, the god everyone worships is wealth and the greatest sin is poverty. America’s civic religion is Horation Algerism. This makes it very profitable to comfort the comfortable by telling them they need not feel compassion for those who struggle because it’s their own fault, their bad choices, their addiction to drugs, their failure to get a good job, and their cultural poverty. We hear it again with every generation and Vance hit a sweet spot just in time. We who are on the left and right can have smug contempt for Trump voters because they are uneducated, racist, lazy, hillbillies on opioids. According to R. C. Hutton points out “the book is aimed not at that underclass (few books are), but rather at a middle- and upper-class readership more than happy to learn that white American poverty has nothing to do with them or with any structural problems in American economy and society and everything to do with poor white folks’ inherent vices.” Yup.

Appalachian Reckoning restores the variety, vitality, and value of the people of Appalachia. The book includes several poems and photos and personal essays recounting the richness of that culture. The people of Appalachia are not culturally deficient. How much of our cultural heritage is sourced in those mountains? These are people who dared strike against the coal barons, whose Peabody coal strike is memorialized in song and film, and whose culture has fostered the Foxfire Magazine and book series (My parents had all the books.) Country music would not exist without its Appalachian origins.

I recommend reading Appalachian Reckoning in small bites rather than all at once because a collection of articles and essays critiquing one book naturally becomes a bit repetitive. How many ways can you say that Hillbilly Elegy works as a memoir, but as sociology, it fails? Nonetheless, I hope every person who read the original book would read this rebuttal because this book sees the humanity and complexity of a region and does not do the disservice of telling people whose jobs have been erased, whose land and rivers have been poisoned, and who are in despair that they problems they have are because they are weak, lazy, and ignorant.

Appalachian Reckoning will be released on March 1st. I received a copy of Appalachian Reckoning from the publisher through NetGalley.

Appalachian Reckoning at West Virginia University Press
Anthony Harkins faculty page
Meredith McCarroll Chronicle Vitae

https://tonstantweaderreviews.wordpress.com/2019/02/23/9781946684806/ ( )
  Tonstant.Weader | Feb 23, 2019 |
A thorough compilation of various reflections on life and the experience of Appalachia and responses to the portrayal of Appalachia and its culture in J.D. Vance's "Hillbilly Elegy."

The response to the book is generally critical: the contributors recognize the work as reflective of Vance's personal experience, but they (rightly) take him to task for reinforcing stereotypes in his work, reducing a group of people to a cultural caricature, completely neglecting the experiences of people of color and others in the region, and using the whole story to push a particular political ideology without a full reckoning of the many factors which have led to dysfunction in many Appalachian communities. The authors are also critical of the response to Vance's work, since it tends to reinforce stereotypes and the socio-cultural hierarchies already in place: look at all those poor little people over there in their dysfunctional culture; this is why Trump was elected; etc. A few of the contributors do well at tracing how Vance's work is just one in a series which has done the same thing to the way people look at Appalachia.

The work instead embodies a much more holistic and nuanced portrayal of Appalachia, from those who grew up and stayed, from those who grew up and left, and those who grew up, left, and returned. We hear the experiences of people of color in Appalachia. We hear from those who experienced its religion or the lack thereof; we hear from those who grew up in dysfunction and from those whose family lives were healthier. People's flaws are very apparent - but we also see many of their virtues, their perseverance, and the ability to look at the culture without pathologizing it.

One walks away from this book with a much better view of what Appalachia is all about, although even here the work is still somewhat academic, written by what is ultimately the elite to explain the land to the elite elsewhere. But so such studies go.

If you really liked "Hillbilly Elegy," you owe it to intellectual honesty and integrity to consider this work and use it to balance how one views and speaks of Appalachia.

**--galley received as part of early review program ( )
  deusvitae | Jan 5, 2019 |
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Harkins, AnthonyRedaktørprimær forfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
McCarroll, MeredithRedaktørhovedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
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"With hundreds of thousands of copies sold, a Ron Howard movie in the works, and the rise of its author as a media personality, J. D. Vance's Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis has defined Appalachia for much of the nation. What about Hillbilly Elegy accounts for this explosion of interest during this period of political turmoil? Why have its ideas raised so much controversy? And how can debates about the book catalyze new, more inclusive political agendas for the region's future? Appalachian Reckoning is a retort, at turns rigorous, critical, angry, and hopeful, to the long shadow Hillbilly Elegy has cast over the region and its imagining. But it also moves beyond Hillbilly Elegy to allow Appalachians from varied backgrounds to tell their own diverse and complex stories through an imaginative blend of scholarship, prose, poetry, and photography. The essays and creative work collected in Appalachian Reckoning provide a deeply personal portrait of a place that is at once culturally rich and economically distressed, unique and typically American. Complicating simplistic visions that associate the region almost exclusively with death and decay, Appalachian Reckoning makes clear Appalachia's intellectual vitality, spiritual richness, and progressive possibilities."--Back cover.

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