Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods: Appalachian Readings

For November, I’m squeaking in just under the wire. I finished reading this fantastic collection of fiction and poetry from West Virginia just last night.

My reading of choice in Cuba

I’ve been excited about Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods for a while, as it features work from so many of my friends, authors, and former coworkers at West Virginia University. It was a homecoming, of sorts, to my grad school days in West Virginia. There was even a passage from Lee Maynard’s book The Pale Light of Sunset, which I edited just before graduating.

So many of the pieces gathered here stuck with me, especially “Quarantine” by Rahul Mehta, “Relapse Means I Forgot to Be Better,” by Erin Veith, and “Me and My Daddy Listen to Bob Marley,” by Ann Pancake. As I read, I tried to figure out what these pieces have in common, other than West Virginia. To me, each shone with passion and rawness—more so than other, long-form creative works I’ve read lately. For instance, here is one particularly moving phrase in Llewellyn McKernan’s poem “Helen, Sovereign”:

I can wait my turn
for the kind of knowledge
that makes one deaf and
blind.

Reading this collection was an emotional journey, in and out of lives, places, feelings, memories. This connection was especially true as I read Sara Pritchard’s story “What’s Left of the Jamie Archer Band.” In it, place, specifically Morgantown, was a secret link between the author and me as the reader. It’s the whisper between the lines saying, “I remember you.”

I haven’t read an edited creative volume like this in quite a while, and it was refreshing. I took it with me to Cuba over Thanksgiving week, and in the midst of feeling out of place, though always welcome, it was nice to sit in my bunk each night and be back in West Virginia.

I’m nearly done with my Appalachian Readings resolution—just one month to go—but I will carry the beauty of this book with me for a long time.

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