Wednesday, July 31, 2013


“Order. Order!! I call the emergency meeting of the Blackheart Hollow School Library Committee to order. That includes you, Bobbie Sue.” Tawnee Patricia “Tea Party” Patterson waved her ceremonial gavel over her bouffant hairdo and glared menacingly at the assembled hoard, hot and bothered by the latest attack on the Bible, Country, and the American Way. “We are here to discuss this abomination, this communist, liberal, soul-deprived description of life in these here hollars, Mr. Pollock’s Knockemstiff, God-rest the souls of the poor folk who lived there way back. Amen.” So began last night's meeting at the All Saints Sinners’ Repent Holiness Church, as witnessed by your faithful reporter.

A voice from the back of the hall rang out, “Did you read it, Momma?”

T.P.’s eyes narrowed and focused on the mullet, then dipping down behind some shoulders in the back row. “Hell, no! But Fannie Lou at the library did, and she gave me a full report on this literary garbage. I want to call for an immediate BAN of this here book from our public and school library. And from the county and country, God willing.”

“Now wait a minute, T.," drawled Junior Junior, Jr. “I think we should discuss this here book.”

Despite holding pitchforks, placards, and burning tar-covered sticks, the assemblage nodded their reluctant approval. T.P. let out a huff, then a sigh, as she discovered her speedy railroading was slighted derailed. “You’ll see, you’ll see,” she shouted.

Minister Deacon Blackheart, of the forefather founding Blackhearts, raised his ample girth up from his committee chair and exclaimed: “This heretical collection of putrefaction makes people like us look as if we are all overweight poverty-ridden, drug-addled, sex-crazed, misogynistic, backwoods hillbillies with missing teeth and no ambition, reluctant to leave our insulated world, prejudiced and judgmental, gossipy and mean spirited, and eager for any scrap.”

“Tell it, preacher.”

“I mean, we gots some folks like that, for sure, but do we need to read about it in such terrifying stark and reviling detail, and with all those bad words besides? And many of the characters are kids! Just more proof that we need to come down harder on our chillums.”

“Amen, brother.”

“Of course, I probably would have conked a few of the sinning reprobates depicted in these stories myself. But, lawdy, people get away with murder and thieving and all sorts of affronts to the Good Book. Our chilluns do not need to read this type of offensive material. Older ones neither.”

T.P. looked with satisfaction at the assembled crowd, but was then forced to recognize Warner Reading, local English teacher. “Now, now folks,” he said, “this is actually a wonderfully written collection of fiction. Fiction, people. No doubt this excellent writer took some liberties, engaged in a bit of fantasy and exaggeration, and tried to capture a small smattering of sentimentalities common to our own hill folks. We may not be Kentucky or West Virginia, but we have some common types. And in the recent rampant rampage and decay of drugs and poverty and community destruction, that we are all aware of, his words often ring quite true, even if a little strident.” After rubbing the developing sunburn blistering on the back his neck, from x-ray glares of his neighbors, he continued, “Why, Pollock's writing is very strong, and perhaps should be a welcome metaphorical and insightful critique of life in SOME hollers. Perhaps we are afraid of seeing the victims for what they are. I liked the story of the young man who abuses the doll, only to be turned into a living doll himself. The actual Knockemstiff has been a ghost town for many years, so the folks Pollock populated it with are figments of his fertile imagination, though I hope his family and friends are forgiving.“

A voice from the crowd asked, “What is the sudden interest in us anyway. Have you seen that Justified? Or read that Winters Bone guy? This stuff is bleak, bleak, bleak! Yeah, he writes purty good and tells a good yarn for some late-to-the-party author, but is there no happiness to be found? Other than an occasionally spark of drug-induced thrill? One wonders if the reader should be mortified or laughing his ass off. Excuse me, T.P.”

The professor replied: "Well, he sure is well grounded in the area and the hardships of low paid employment at rough work. I can't speak to his knowledge of the sordid side of life, but a lot rings true. One can certainly be horrified by the way supposedly God-fearing people treat their spouses and family and friends. I think these shorts stories, even if they raise concerns, are a wonderful addition to the growing body of Appalachian literature."

The debate was off and running and continued for several more hours, with no satisfactory accord, and the topic was tabled until the next meeting. Expect an even bigger crowd then. The only other business discussed was Mary Alice Childerstick's pigs breaking out of their pen and devouring the Bickerstaff's green garden. The aforementioned promised to replace the lost veggies with plant from her own garden (but not the wacky tobbacky).

Getta Write, editor, Blackheart Bugle

[I recommend ya’ll run over to Bridget’s Book Swap and Bawdy Boutique and buy you a copy.]

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