cover of book

Past Titan Rock: Journeys into an Appalachian Valley
by Ellesa Clay High
foreword by Travis D. Stimeling
West Virginia University Press, 2021
Paper: 978-1-952271-17-5
Library of Congress Classification F457.R4H54 2021
Dewey Decimal Classification 976.9213

A classic book about Appalachian life and music, now updated with new material.

Past Titan Rock, a winner of the Appalachian Award for Literature, is available in a new edition as part of the series Sounding Appalachia, with an introduction by series editor Travis D. Stimeling.

In 1977 Ellesa Clay High thought she would spend an afternoon interviewing Lily May Ledford, best known as the lead performer of an all-female string band that began playing on the radio in the 1930s. That meeting began an unexpected journey leading into the mountains of eastern Kentucky and a hundred years into the past. Set in Red River Gorge, an area of steep ridges and box canyons, Past Titan Rock is a multigenre, multivocal re-creation of life in that region. With Ledford’s guidance, High traveled and lived in the gorge, visiting with people who could remember life there before the Works Progress Administration built roads across the ridges and into the valleys during the New Deal. What emerges through a unique combination of personal essay, oral history, and short fiction is a portrait of a mountain culture rich in custom, oral tradition, and song. Past Titan Rock demonstrates the depth of community ties in the Red River Gorge and raises important questions about how to resist destructive forces today.
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