Early spring roundup: Reviews, media attention, and author events

Appalachian Reckoning: A Region Responds to Hillbilly Elegy is reviewed by Dwight Garner in the New York Times. He calls it “the most sustained pushback to Vance’s book . . . thus far,” and “a volley of intellectual buckshot from high up alongside the hollow.” Robert Gipe, a contributor to the volume, also appears in the Times with his op-ed piece “Appalachia Is More Diverse Than You Think.” This much-talked-about book receives additional reviews in the Daily Yonder and Chapter 16 from Humanities Tennessee, and Letitia Montgomery-Rodgers interviews the volume editors for Foreword Reviews. The title’s Morgantown launch event is available to view in its entirety thanks to the WVU College of Law.

Michael Clay Carey’s The News Untold received the Weatherford Award for the year’s best nonfiction book about Appalachia from Berea College and the Appalachian Studies Association. Tom Hansell’s After Coal was a runner-up. WVU Press is fortunate to have received two Weatherford Awards in the last three years, and to have had four finalists.

Foreword Reviews calls LGBTQ Fiction and Poetry from Appalachia “an immersive exploration of queer life within the confines of a conservative American subculture.” Editors Jeff Mann and Julia Watts will join contributors to the volume for a launch event at Malaprop’s Bookstore in Asheville, NC, on April 22.

Also in Foreword Reviews, Cassandra Kircher’s Far Flung is praised as a collection of “intimate and moving essays on nature, family, and adventures in the wild.”Read More »

Conference preview: Appalachian Studies Association, 2019

With the annual meeting of the Appalachian Studies Association coming up March 14–17 in Asheville, NC, we wanted to provide an overview of talks and events of interest to friends of West Virginia University Press. If you can’t be in Asheville, follow along with the hashtag #AppalachAville, and have a look at our titles in Appalachian studies here.

Book exhibit: Visit us in the exhibit hall (Highsmith Student Union’s Alumni Hall) on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to meet press staff and see all our latest books. If you’re pitching a project, feel free to contact Derek Krissoff (for nonfiction) or Abby Freeland (for fiction) ahead of the conference to ask about meeting. Email addresses are on the WVU Press website.

Appalachian Reckoning event: Volume editors and contributors to Appalachian Reckoning, our new set of responses to Hillbilly Elegy, will read at Malaprop’s Bookstore in downtown Asheville on Saturday, March 16, at 7PM. More info here.Read More »

Late winter roundup: Reviews, media attention, and author events

In an Associated Press piece run by the Washington Post and others, Russell Contreras calls Matthew Ferrence’s Appalachia North “a lyrical homage to a region often misunderstood and overlooked,” saying “Ferrence’s engulfing prose brings to life an Appalachia north of the Mason-Dixon line.” The Indiana (PA) Gazette profiles the book in anticipation of Ferrence’s appearance at Indiana University of Pennsylvania on March 20.

Publishers Weekly calls Appalachian Reckoning: A Region Responds to Hillbilly Elegy an “impassioned collection of Appalachian regional art, essays, and poetry,” commending the volume for demonstrating that, despite stereotypes, “resilience, hope, and belonging are in Appalachia, too.” The book is also featured in the Pittsburgh Current and reviewed in the Bowling Green Daily News, which says: “If you read Hillbilly Elegy, you definitely need to pick up a copy of Appalachian Reckoning.” Editors Meredith McCarroll and Anthony Harkins will join contributors to the volume for a launch event at West Virginia University on February 25.

Booklist praises Capitalist Pigs, comparing it to one of the foundational texts of environmental history: “In the vein of William Cronon’s Nature’s Metropolis, this is a meaty, accessible, and clear-eyed agricultural history.”Read More »

Partners in craft: More friends of West Virginia University Press

In the second installment of our Booktimist series, we hear from collaborators across the world of books.

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Penny Pugh is head of research services at the WVU Libraries and a member of WVU Press’s editorial board.

It’s been my pleasure to serve on the WVU Press board for several years and to see it grow and flourish under the leadership of two talented directors. The work of a board member is indeed a pleasure. The board approves all new books before they’re published, and as part of the evaluation members read a portion of the work under consideration as well as a summary and reports from external reviewers. These glimpses into potential new titles are fascinating. After reviewing the titles, members of the board provide additional insights from our various disciplines and vote on acceptance of the title. The board also advises the director on matters of policy and practice and generally guards the reputation of the press.Read More »

Appalachia North: A conversation with Matthew Ferrence

Matthew Ferrence is department chair and associate professor of English at Allegheny College, and the author of the memoir Appalachia North (WVU Press, 2019) and All-American Redneck: Variations on an Icon, from James Fenimore Cooper to the Dixie Chicks. He talked with Margo Orlando Littell, author of the Appalachian novel Each Vagabond by Name, about his memoir. The following is an edited selection of the conversation.

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Midwinter roundup: Reviews, media attention, and author events

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In a starred review, Kirkus calls Appalachian Reckoning: A Region Responds to Hillbilly Elegy “a welcome and valuable resource for anyone studying or writing about this much-maligned region,” singling out for praise the volume’s “nuanced considerations of race, sexuality, and drug use.” The title also earns a starred review from Foreword, which calls it “stunning in its intellectual and creative riches.” Humanities Tennessee excerpts Robert Gipe’s “How Appalachian I Am,” an essay from the collection, in its magazine Chapter 16. 

Sharon Harris’s “masterful” Rebecca Harding Davis: A Life among Writers has been named an outstanding title for 2018 by Choice, a publication of the American Library Association. The annual list reflects the best scholarly titles reviewed by Choice, and recognizes “outstanding works for their excellence in presentation and scholarship.”Read More »

Pink pork and “the housewife’s most wholesome sink”: Waste and taste in American history

J. L. Anderson’s Capitalist Pigs: Pigs, Pork, and Power in American History is on its way to bookstores and available now from our website and online retailers. A contribution to WVU’s publishing program in environment, agriculture, and food politics, the book is—according to Mark Essig, author of Lesser Beasts: A Snout-to-Tail History of the Humble Pig—“the story of how pigs made America, and how America remade the pig.” In this piece drawn from his research for the book, Anderson looks at how consumer preferences and waste practices have intersected with health concerns about pork over the course of US history.

Fifteen or so years ago a waiter at a fashionable restaurant asked how I would like my pork loin cooked. “I beg your pardon?” I replied. The server clarified that I could have it prepared rare, medium, or well-done. Of course I knew about the different temperatures for preparing and serving meat. The problem was that for me, born in the 1960s, the very question was absurd. Pork was cooked until done or it wasn’t. People who grew up in my era knew that consuming rare pork was a health risk.Read More »

Early winter roundup: Reviews, media attention, and author events

The Chronicle of Higher Education showcases “Five Teaching Tips from How Humans Learn,” Joshua Eyler’s new book in our series Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. The book also makes the 2018 notable list from the Chicago Tribune, and is featured (for a third time!) in Inside Higher Ed, which calls it “a wonderful tool for reflection on one’s own teaching practice.” Eyler is interviewed on Houston’s NPR station, as well as the New Books Network and Teaching in Higher Ed podcasts.

In other news from our higher education program, Inside Higher Ed interviews Thomas Tobin and Kirsten Behling about their book Reach Everyone, Teach Everyone, and the journal Reflective Teaching calls Natasha Haugnes, Hoag Holmgren, and Martin Springborg’s Meaningful Grading “an important read for all faculty.”

Natalie Sypolt’s The Sound of Holding Your Breath is included among “Five Stellar Debut Story Collections” in Foreword Reviews. Read an interview with Sypolt on Leslie Pietrzyk’s Work-in-Progress blog.

On BackStory radio, Ed Ayers, recipient of the National Humanities Medal, recommends our book Marked, Unmarked, Remembered as a holiday gift. “Right where we’re standing now, something else happened. This book helps us see that in a way that no other book I’ve read has.”Read More »

“Appalachia loves stories”: A conversation with Travis Stimeling

Stimeling photosTravis Stimeling is associate professor of music history at West Virginia University and a series editor and author with WVU Press. Here he talks with Jacob Kopcienski, a lecturer in the WVU School of Music. Don’t miss Travis and musical guests at Taylor Books in Charleston, WV, on December 19.

JK: What inspired your interest and scholarly engagement with Appalachian music and culture?

TS: I grew up in Buckhannon, West Virginia, in Upshur County, about an hour and change south of Morgantown. Toward the end of elementary school, we started going to a Methodist church. In our neighborhood you were either down in the holler or up on the ridge, and church was up on the ridge. We shared the minister with three other churches, so we only got a preacher on the first and third Sundays of the month. Second and fourth Sundays were lay speakers and, in months with five Sundays, the preacher got the last Sunday off. On those fifth Sundays, all four churches got together in the evening for a big sing-in. So, from the time I was nine to eleven years old, I was singing gospel music with my mom, and singing in the church choir. Mom and I were a little duo that was a lot of fun. I would sing the harmony and she would sing the lead. When my voice changed, we flipped parts.Read More »

Seeing West Virginia in the world: A year-end message

If 2017 was a year of firsts for West Virginia University Press, then 2018 has been one of reach—a year in which our books and authors were in particularly broad circulation, helping propel outward the reputation of the university, state, and region in encounters from Portland to New Orleans and New York to Munich. We’re proud of our work with partners in the state’s growing literary and cultural network, like Four Seasons Books in Shepherdstown, Labor Heritage Week in Wheeling, and the West Virginia Book Festival in Charleston. In our end-of-year message, though, we start by looking further afield.

LA.jpgWest Virginia University Press was big in Southern California this year: we were reviewed in the Los Angeles Review of Books three times and made our first appearance in Pacific Standard; author Michael Adamson talked about his book in our series Energy and Society at the Huntington Library in San Marino; and a visit to Skylight Books yielded sightings of a half dozen of our titles (including one coauthored by WVU musicologist Travis Stimeling). “When I go into a bookstore and see the words ‘West Virginia University Press’ on a spine next to logos from the University of Minnesota and Oxford University,” said director Derek Krissoff, “it says something about the community WVU is part of. If I’m far from home and the book happens to be by a WVU faculty member, all the better.”Read More »