Meredith Sue Willis teaches novel writing at New York University’s School of Professional Studies. She is the author of twenty-two books, including A Space Apart, Love Palace, Out of the Mountains: Appalachian Stories, and Oradell at Sea (West Virginia University Press). She has received literary fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and has won awards such as the PEN Syndicated Fiction Award, the West Virginia Library Association Literary Merit Award, and the Appalachian Heritage Denny C. Plattner Prize for both fiction and nonfiction.Their Houses, her latest novel, is now available to preorder.
Long before I moved to New York City, at my first college in rural Pennsylvania, I became accustomed to a lot of nonsense from otherwise intelligent people who thought it was okay to make hillbilly jokes. To this day, decades later, people will still openly make remarks about Appalachians that they would never openly make about other groups. I think this is probably less about malice and more about deep, appalling ignorance. It is an ignorance, however, that contributes to making West Virginians and others feel marginalized.
Meagan Szekely is the marketing manager at Naval Institute Press. Previously, she worked as an editorial assistant at Johns Hopkins University Press and as a graduate assistant at West Virginia University Press. Meagan has a master’s degree in professional writing and editing from West Virginia University. She has worked on books about Appalachian culture, Florida manatees, World War II spies, and Victorian shoes. A native of Huntington, West Virginia, Szekely now lives in Annapolis, Maryland, with her husband and cat. She is passionate about books, Coca-Cola, and West Virginia.
From the very beginning of grad school, I lived by Jeffrey Eugenides’s words from The Marriage Plot: “She’d become an English major for the purest and dullest of reasons: because she loved to read.” To which my mother replied, “But what are you going to do with a degree in English?”Read More »
In the Los Angeles Review of Books, Maggie Messitt has an essay responding to our edition of Muriel Rukeyser’s The Book of the Dead. She writes: ”The Book of the Dead is documentary poetry . . . at its most effective. The collection builds a narrative that carries through each poem, leading us into a disaster impossible to shake, illustrating the fight for accountability, and exposing the awful truth.”
Nancy Abrams’s The Climb from Salt Lickreceives two major pieces of media attention. Booklistcalls it “a reverse Hillbilly Elegy, the story of a young woman who flummoxes her family back in St. Louis by settling in remote, rural West Virginia, giving us a glimpse into hardscrabble living, small-town characters, and a slice of history.” And Chicago Readersays the author “paints a vivid picture of what it was like to make her way in an unfamiliar territory during a turbulent time.” Abrams’s photographs, including some from the book, are on exhibit at the Rare Nest Gallery in Chicago.
Marked, Unmarked, Remembered—a book that “seeks to shed light on events that have been left out of the national story, even as these issues continue to define political struggles today”—is also featured in Chicago Reader, in conjunction with the authors’ appearance at the Chicago Humanities Festival.Read More »
Tom Hansell’s After Coal will be published by WVU Press in November. The book traces a long-term exchange between mining communities in Appalachia and Wales, looking at how resonances between these regions—often depicted as victims of globalization—can be a source of strength. As Hansell puts it: “Taken at face value, international commerce seems to erode community self-determination, but can international connections also support local control?” Read More »
Nancy L. Abrams began her journalism career in Terra Alta, West Virginia, where she was managing editor of The Preston County News, a job she held for a decade. A graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Nancy trained as a photojournalist. She holds an MFA in creative writing-nonfiction from The New School. Out now, The Climb from Salt Lick: A Memoir of Appalachia recounts her time as a small-town reporter in West Virginia.
I remember my first trip to see Earl Groves. I had been told about his sawmill, powered by a steam engine. A relic from the past located in a place called Deep Hollow. The narrow gravel road curled along a creek colored bright orange by acid mine drainage. Great heaps of coal waste–gob piles–loomed overhead. Sunlight could barely breach the sharp cleft between the hills. The sawmill was a brown skeleton in the ruined landscape.
When did the 1980s begin? One of the arguments The Argument about Things in the 1980s makes is that such a simple question is quite hard to answer. If it’s worthwhile—as I think it is—to frame the 1980s as part of a longer “age of neoliberalism,” it’s tricky to pinpoint the exact origins of that era.
But something certainly happened in the 1970s, and Carter’s famous speech is an example of it: the intensification of a centuries-old argument about things in American life, in which Americans debate the proper place of material things in their existence. It’s as old as the Puritans—older, in fact—and Carter’s speech is a great illustration of what one tradition within it can look and sound like.Read More »
We’re excited to exhibit books and meet authors at the annual meeting of the American Association of Geographers (AAG) in New Orleans April 11-13. Geography is an important and growing scholarly area for WVU Press—one that draws on the strength of the university’s extraordinary geography department and connects to our broader publishing program in areas like Appalachian studies and studies of energy and environment. If you plan to be in New Orleans we hope you’ll visit us in booth 604, which we’re sharing with our colleagues in WVU’s department of geography.Read More »
In recognition of West Virginia University’s long-form scholarship celebration, we’re turning the blog’s camera around for an interview with Derek Krissoff, director of West Virginia University Press, in conversation with Ryan Claycomb, interim director of the WVU Humanities Center.
RC: Derek, at this transitional moment in the publishing industry, how would you characterize the work of university presses?
DK: I would say, without qualification, irony, or diffidence, that this is a golden age for books and for university presses. There are more books, more bookstores, more authors, more communities of readers, more publishers in general, and more university presses specifically than ever before.
Moreover, while presses are experimenting with new business models and new methods of disseminating information, our recent history has been characterized by continuity far more than disruption. At most university presses, eighty to ninety percent of sales continue to come from print, while the upstart open access model, heralded in some quarters as our inevitable future, involves something like one percent of new scholarly titles. The substance of university press books—from Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century to Safiya Umoja Noble’s Algorithms of Oppression—is more adventurous than ever. Their form, however, is essentially unchanged.Read More »
Abby Freeland is the sales and marketing director at West Virginia University Press, where she also acquires fiction. She recently represented WVU Press at AWP’s annual conference, where she was an exhibitor at the bookfair.