“Walk Till the Dogs Get Mean offers lively discussion of the role of silence and silencing in Appalachian culture. Blevins and McElmurray have assembled an impressive array of established and new voices. The essays are provocative, electric, occasionally heart-rending, occasionally hilarious, but always thoughtful and essential.”
Dinty W. Moore, author of Between Panic & Desire
“The essays of Walk Till the Dogs Get Mean create a cumulative effect of startling honesty. Like any worthwhile act of reckoning, this anthology is not particularly concerned with providing answers to the tough personal or cultural dilemmas posed in the essays. Instead it focuses on the writers’ willingness to engage permanently open questions. In fact, the sheer variety of style and form collected in this book offers its own powerful testament to the evolving legacy of literary Appalachia.”
“The book’s diverse reflections… offer a fascinating cross-section of contemporary Appalachian authors’ experiences in regard to their unorthodoxy of gender, religion, race, or class in the region.”
Now and Then
“There’s galvanizing power in the pages of Walk Till the Dogs Get Mean. The voices collected here, crying out of an Appalachia too often defined by outsiders, ask us to raise our own voices against those who would speak for us, against our whispered inner fears that our stories aren’t worth telling. This is a book for our sons and daughters. I know I’ll be handing it down to mine.”
Amy Greene, author of Bloodroot and Long Man
In Walk Till the Dogs Get Mean, Adrian Blevins and Karen Salyer McElmurray collect essays from today’s finest established and emerging writers with roots in Appalachia. Together, these essays take the theme of silencing in Appalachian culture, whether the details of that theme revolve around faith, class, work, or family legacies.
In essays that take wide-ranging forms—making this an ideal volume for creative nonfiction classes—contributors write about families left behind, hard-earned educations, selves transformed, identities chosen, and risks taken. They consider the courage required for the inheritances they carry.
Toughness and generosity alike characterize works by Dorothy Allison, bell hooks, Silas House, and others. These writers travel far away from the boundaries of a traditional Appalachia, and then circle back—always—to the mountains that made each of them the distinctive thinking and feeling people they ultimately became. The essays in Walk Till the Dogs Get Mean are an individual and collective act of courage.
Dorothy Allison, Rob Amberg, Pinckney Benedict, Kathryn Stripling Byer, Sheldon Lee Compton, Michael Croley, Richard Currey, Joyce Dyer, Sarah Einstein, Connie May Fowler, RJ Gibson, Mary Crockett Hill, bell hooks, Silas House, Jason Howard, David Huddle, Tennessee Jones, Lisa Lewis, Jeff Mann, Chris Offutt, Ann Pancake, Jayne Anne Phillips, Melissa Range, Carter Sickels, Aaron Smith, Jane Springer, Ida Stewart, Jacinda Townsend, Jessie van Eerden, Julia Watts, Charles Dodd White, and Crystal Wilkinson.
Adrian Blevins was born in Abingdon, Virginia. She is the author of Live from the Homesick Jamboree, The Brass Girl Brouhaha, and two chapbooks. She has received a Kate Tufts Discovery Award, a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, and a Pushcart Prize, among others. She teaches at Colby College.
Karen Salyer McElmurray’s Surrendered Child: A Birth Mother’s Journey was a National Book Critics Circle Notable Book. Her novels are The Motel of the Stars and Strange Birds in the Tree of Heaven. The recipient of a National Endowment from the Arts Fellowship, McElmurray teaches at West Virginia Wesleyan College.
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