While contemplating which books to read as part of my resolution, a light bulb came on. I realized that my true reason for this project was to re-immerse myself in Appalachian literature in order to respond intelligently to Hillbilly Elegy. Once I connected those dots, I decided to get it over with. Hillbilly Elegy is […]
Continuing my 2018 resolution to read more books about Appalachia, I chose Dear Appalachia: Readers, Identity, and Popular Fiction since 1878 by Emily Satterwhite for February. In Dear Appalachia, Satterwhite looks at reader responses to popular Appalachian regional fiction from the late 1800s to present day. I’ll admit, I haven’t read all the books Satterwhite discusses, but I’ve […]
A resolution of mine for 2018 is to read more books about Appalachia. I was an Appalachian studies minor back in the day at Berea College, and my writing and, honestly, my identity are wrapped up in the region. Because I do best with goals, I decided to read one book on Appalachia each month. […]
I’m so, so honored to have placed first in the creative nonfiction category in Still: The Journal’s annual writing contest! Read the full essay here. Also be sure to check out the other amazing pieces. My friend Natalie Sypolt won first in fiction, and the winning poem is incredible. In addition, the amazing Meg Wilson (who […]
Here’s a fantastic video about my Great Uncle George and the Erwin Nine. s&s erwin 9 from john becker on Vimeo.
As a child, I was terrified of fire. After a fire marshal came to my elementary school to teach us basic fire safety, such as having a plan and using stop-drop-and-roll, I doubled down on my fear. I slept on the side of the bed closest to the door, in case I needed to run […]
Every once in a while, as a child, you encounter a book that becomes part of your own narrative. When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant was one such book for me. It details the daily life of a girl growing up in the Appalachian Mountains—she tells of her days spent swimming in the […]
The other night, Casey and I watched Lawless, a film set during Prohibition in rural Virginia. In one of the scenes, Shia LaBeouf visits a church service wherein the congregants are sitting in a square—in parts—facing one another, and singing. Based on the strong rhythm and the arrangement of people, I could tell they were using shape […]