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River of Earth cover November's Book
River of Earth
by James Still

James Still’s River of Earth is a classic not only of Appalachian literature but of American literature. Published in 1940, it is both a poignant, at times heart-breaking look at hard times in the Eastern Kentucky hills and a celebration of the enduring beauty of those hills and the courage, faith, and spirit of their people. As the young narrator grows from childhood into adolescence, he learns about poverty, grief, and the conflicts that can tear families and communities apart—but also about the love that holds them together.

In addition to the regular bookclub discussion, KET produced an hour-long special, James Still’s Legacy, as part of our November 2003 tribute to the author. It includes excerpts from several other discussions of River of Earth: by Sue Churchill’s students at Woodford County High School; by Maria Harrison’s students at Williamsburg High School; and by a mixed group of Bethlehem High School and Western Kentucky University students at Bardstown Booksellers, led by Father Gary Young. In addition, five contemporary Appalachian writers participated in a roundtable discussion of Still’s impact on their own work and careers, taped at the Hindman Settlement School in Still’s beloved Knott County. Others interviewed include Mike Mullins, director of the Hindman Settlement School, and writers Wilma Dykeman, George Ella Lyon, and the late Jim Wayne Miller.

Program videos: bookclub panel discussion (30 minutes) and James Still’s Legacy (60 minutes) [Both require RealPlayer®.]

Resources for teachers on James Still and River of Earth

Writers featured in the roundtable: Chris Holbrook, Silas House, Leatha Kendrick, Frank X Walker, and Crystal Wilkinson

Video reading: Kentucke by Frank X Walker

Blurbs from the book cover

Card catalog entry from the Library of Congress information page

Barnes and Noble information page

James Still

Biography by George Ella Lyon


Video: James Still reads the first paragraph of River of Earth [requires RealPlayer®]

James Still’s Place in Appalachian Letters by George Ella Lyon

Bibliography, including works by Still and some other recommended readings

Links for more information on James Still and his work

James Still’s River of Earth, a 1997 KET biography, airs periodically on our instructional channel

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Last Updated: Wednesday, 08-Dec-2010 11:02:03 EST