The Run for the Elbertas
In language both spare and colorful, sure in its command of the mountain idiom and poetic in its evocation of the mountain setting, James Still’s stories reveal the lives of his people – lives of privation and struggle, dignified by humor and touched with joy. The Run for the Elbertas, the most extensive collection of his short fiction yet to appear, includes six stories that are published here for the first time in book form – in all, 13 stories from one of America’s masters of the short story.
“The boy who narrates the stories is the perfect observer through whose eyes we are allowed to see this old-fashioned world. He has a boy’s curiosity and freshness of vision. He is alert and properly inquisitive about the world in which he finds himself. He is an ‘innocent’ in the pristine sense of that word, yet nevertheless a realist… One thinks immediately of Twain’s Huck Finn, or Hemmingway’s Nick Adams or Sherwood Anderson’s Kentucky boy who is the narrator of ‘I Want to Know Why.’ Still has made a worthy contribution to this genre” – from the foreword by Cleanth Brooks.
James Still (1906-2001), was born on Double Creek in Alabama, one of 10 children. For most of his life he lived in a log house between Dead Mare Branch and Wolfpen Creek in Knott County, Kentucky. He enjoyed a long relationship with Hindman Settlement School where he first began work as a librarian and lived in his later years.
His early books – a book of poems, Hounds on the Mountain (1937); his celebrated novel River of Earth (1940); and a collection of stories, On Troublesome Creek (1941) – were all published by The Viking Press. It was not until 35 years later, after Pattern of a Man was first published, that there was revival of interest in his work. Other books include a novel Sporty Creek; the collection of stories The Run for the Elbertas; The Wolfpen Notebooks; and a number of books for children: The Wolfpen Rusties; Way Down Yonder on Troublesome Creek; Jack and the Wonder Beans; and An Appalachian Mother Goose. His two later major collections of poems are The Wolfpen Poems and From the Mountain, From the Valley.