Hell and Ohio: Stories of Southern Appalachia
by Chris Holbrook
Published in 1995 (Gnomon Press trade paperback):
In Hell and Ohio Chris Holbrook gets the voices right, and the living, vivid details of contemporary life in the mountains. These stories are elegies for land and lives disappearing under mudslides from strip mines and new trailer parks and highways. But they are also stories of humor and the mysteries that define us, of marriage in a time of change and the ambiguities of allegiance, of the poetry of work. This is a book you will enjoy, and find hard to forget.
Robert Morgan, author of Gap Creek
Trenchant, unflinching stories of present-day Appalachia, written in a voice that quietly commands attention. Chris Holbrook will be with us for the long haul.
Ed McClanahan, author of The Natural Man
In these stories Chris Holbrook displays his mastery of the short story form. He has taken to heart James Stills maxim to think each word vigorously. This is consummate literary artistry.
Gurney Norman, author of Kinfolks
This fiction is beautifully crafted, nuanced, empathetic; the writing is faultless. But the books greatest strength comes from Holbrooks patient, resourceful use of his considerable gifts. Hell and Ohio is a clear-eyed portrait of a region that has failed to thrive economically even while its culturethe landscape, the music, the religioncontinues to inspire passion in its native hearts.... Chris Holbrooks sensibility is a challenge to those who are tempted to mothball Appalachia in sweet, crooning nostalgia. There is sinewy muscle in this book as well as clear poetry, a reminder that the long story of those ancient mountains is not yet done.
Alyson Hagy, author of Keeneland
Chris Holbrook was raised in Soft Shell, Knott County, in the southern Appalachian mountains of eastern Kentucky. A graduate of both the University of Kentucky and the University of Iowa (MFA, Fiction), he has won fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and the Kentucky Arts Council. His short stories have won publication competitions sponsored by Now and Then and Louisville Magazine. He was given the Thomas and Lillie D. Chaffin Award by Morehead State University. He teaches at Alice Lloyd College in Pippa Passes, where he lives with his wife, Mary Beth, and daughter Erin.