In 1995, Chris Holbrook burst onto the southern literary scene with Hell and Ohio: Stories of Southern Appalachia, stories that Robert Morgan described as "elegies for land and lives disappearing under mudslides from strip mines and new trailer parks and highways." Now, with the publication of Upheaval, Holbrook more than answers the promise of that auspicious debut. In eiIn 1995, Chris Holbrook burst onto the southern literary scene with Hell and Ohio: Stories of Southern Appalachia, stories that Robert Morgan described as "elegies for land and lives disappearing under mudslides from strip mines and new trailer parks and highways." Now, with the publication of Upheaval, Holbrook more than answers the promise of that auspicious debut. In eight interrelated stories set in Eastern Kentucky, Holbrook again captures a region and its people as they struggle in the face of poverty, isolation, change, and the devastation of land and resources at the hands of the coal and timber industries. In the title story, Haskell sees signs of disaster all around him, from the dangers inherent in the strip-mining machinery he and his coworkers operate to the accident waiting to happen when his son plays with a socket wrench. Holbrook employs a native's ear for dialect and turns of phrase to reveal his characters' complex interior lives. In "The Timber Deal," two brothers -- Russell, a recovering addict recently released from prison, and Dwight, who hasn't worked since being injured in a coal truck accident -- try to convince their upwardly mobile sister, Helen, to agree to lease out timber rights to the family land. Dwight is unable to communicate his feelings, even as he seethes with rage: "Helen can't see past herself, is what it is. If John James had fractured his back in two places, it'd be a different story. If he'd broke his neck, it'd be a different story told." Written with a gritty, unflinching realism reminiscent of the work of Larry Brown and Cormac McCarthy, the stories in Upheaval prove that Holbrook is not only a faithful chronicler and champion of Appalachia's working poor but also one of the most gifted writers of his generation....
|Number of Pages||:||151 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Upheaval: Stories Reviews
reading this book is like watching commercials during daytime television.they are so depressing, man.presumably, anyone not at work during the day is either injured, disabled, unemployed, undereducated, a frustrated homemaker, or the embittered elderly looking for a lawsuit.lawyers, credit consultants, career institutes or technical schools, life insurance, reverse-mortgage, tax monkeys...ugh. a bleak picture is painted.after reading that tony burgess book of short stories back-and-forth with this one, i kept bracing myself for something cinematically awful to happen. but this is not a cinematically awful kind of book. this is just life-awful. not all of the stories are tragic, but the things that happen are recognizable moments in the human struggle. teenage daughters run wild, women fall out of love, houses burn, cars crash, money is tight. wal-mart and trailers and meth and imprisonment. these aren't diamond-in-the-rough stories. just the rough.the best stories, for me, were all the ills, in which a police officer, separated from his wife, visits his dying father and tries to fix the things that have gone wrong in his own life, and new-used in which a man trades in his car, survives the indignity of food stamps, and teaches a few tough lessons to his son. the tenacity of life despite all obstacles is heart-and-gut-popping, and these characters are not to be pitied:when i make to leave he offers his hand to shake. i try and be gentle when i take it. it's cold and bloodless-looking and trembly. i feel the least bit ill touching it. he looks at me funny for a second. i start to smile, but then i see the look come on his face, the look i know well, the look that says he's about to knock fire out of me. it's funny how i feel for a second, almost like i wish he would, but there's barely enough strength left in him to raise his head, or enough will either. i squeeze his hand, shaking it for real, squeeze until his knuckles pop. i manage to leave without saying anything more. at least i've got that much sense.holbrook does very well with the understated, and the frustrated impotence of characters just trying to make ends meet through their exhaustion and emotional albatrosses. the details in these stories are quiet but perfect.i don't know why i love the stories of "appalachia's working poor" as much as i do, but this one is a great addition to my library of 'em, and i look forward to more from this author, and the rest of this "genre".feel free to tell me about any others, although i must admit, i have a million of them here already, in various stages of "read" and "unread."
I read these one a day for 8 days as part of the "read one short story a day" idea and I picked these to count as #ownvoices reading for this month. I also am doing penance with friends for reading Hillbilly Elegy and not hating it immediately for its lack of humanity, complexity and historical perspective. Lisa Alther gets it right describing these stories as pitch perfect stories of the southern mountains. Lonely, isolated people, past traditions are dead, future is hopeless, the present is bleak and they are surrounded by a desolated, raped landscape deleted of its resources. ^^^ the writing is great, but don't settle in for a light happy read.
Chris Holbrook introduces the short story “New-Used” from his collection, Upheaval (University Press of Kentucky, 978-0-8131-9244-4).(/b)Many of the details and some of the incidents of “New-Used” are autobiographical, probably more so than in any other story I’ve written. My mother has been a seamstress most of her life. My father did work a lot of labor jobs. We did keep a garden that was once or twice stolen from. The incident involving the soda machine is something I remember happening, though it was at an auto garage and the person offering to buy the soda was a man. Also, my older brother was with my father and me. I’ve tried to depict the significance of the incident as I remember having felt it at the time. More likely that what I’ve managed is my interpretation of the memory.My father drove used cars most of his life and once or twice I went with him to a used car lot. All the stuff about cars is the way I remember feeling about them as a kid and all through my teenage years, just absolute fascination. I have a tendency to romanticize when I write about cars, old beat-up cars especially.I’ve written a few stories with the issue of a strained father/son relationship, trying to get at the tension felt on both sides. I’m always writing about societal inequity, economic stress and other concerns of eastern Kentucky and the Appalachian South. It’s difficult to get at those issues without drifting into agitprop. For me anything approaching a social commentary has to be buried deeply, really subdued, for it not to ruin the story. The story’s the main objective. I spent several months writing “New/Used,” though after the first couple of scenes the story came together pretty easily. I think it’s a very obvious story, very simple. The plot is simple, a basic journey story. The structure follows a standard dramatic arc. I tried to keep the ending as restrained as possible. Mark doesn’t come to a complete realization. He’s too young to fully understand the events of the day. He just gets to a point of intensified focus, what I try to portray with the imagery of the half-empty soda bottle and the yellow jacket. I’m still not sure that image works.Read or download the complete story at ForeWord's Book Club for one week only.
These are dense and vividly detailed stories. Unflinchingly real and choked with the inner pain of the characters. The narration, whether in first-person or close-third, is just a flat out impressive reveal of character from the inside out. Nothing is described just to be described, instead the descriptions, down the last detail, are tinged with whatever turmoil the focal character is experiencing. This is character-based fiction at the highest level of craft. Notions of what is closure in short stories is also open for pondering in nearly all of these stories, as Holbrook, again with the highest level of craft, resists the ending. One example is Christmas Down Home, which ends like so: “It could not be said how he felt.” When, of course, up to that point, the whole story has been a close-third narrative all about how he was feeling. And why not end with “He could not say how he felt” rather than with the strangely omniscient “It could not be said,” as if the author is saying it should perhaps not be said how he felt? So many ways to express the conflicted emotions of the moment, which have been shown, and yet, that final sentence. What is Holbrook saying about closure with that ending?
Holbrook writes beautifully; the short stories in this collection are haunting. They do not conclude, but rather offer a small piece of the characters' lives. When the stories in this collection end, it's almost as if the characters go on living somewhere else. Each story is raw with familiar emotions, uncomfortable to read, but very well done and well worth your time.
Great storytelling. Set in East Kentucky with realistic characters.