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Go to the end of the road and on up the hill a little and this is Mission Creek – this is where we live. You might not expect to find black people in the mountains, not many of us left, but we’re here.
The Deal Me In fates decided to have me read Crystal Wilkinson’s short story “Holler” at the same time that I’m reading her latest novel The Birds of Opulence. The anthology Degrees of Elevation: Short Stories of Contemporary Appalachia edited by Charles Dodd White and Page Seay, in which “Holler” is included, has given me several great stories and some wonderful authors. Wilkinson and Ron Rash rank up there as my favorite discoveries.
The story “Holler” takes place in a holler in the mountains of Kentucky; however, the story also uses the word “holler” to describe yelling. Interesting that both uses of the word have a connection to the plot.
The descriptions of where the narrator lives have the biggest impact on the plot. The yelling aspect of the story connects the frustrations and tragedies that her family suffers from the prejudice they encounter. Racial prejudice is definitely involved but they are also looked down upon for living in the mountains, for being country.
In the case of the narrator and her family, the one-word sentences and exchanges that I posted about previously (here) actually come with a deep and trustworthy intuition (unlike the situation in my previous story) in which the characters understand much more than simply the words that are spoken – and so does the reader.