Given Ground

Departing from Appalachia s 150 year old literary legacy of formula and caricature, West Virginia native Ann Pancake uses the texture of language, an intense attention to place, and complexity of characterization to recreate the region its tragic history and fragile culture, the interior landscapes of its people, and their deep rootedness in a threatened land Her charaDeparting from Appalachia s 150 year old literary legacy of formula and caricature, West Virginia native Ann Pancake uses the texture of language, an intense attention to place, and complexity of characterization to recreate the region its tragic history and fragile culture, the interior landscapes of its people, and their deep rootedness in a threatened land Her characters, already marginalized economically and socially, confront what many perceive as an invading outside culture, enduring and at times transcending the loss of their place, both literally and figuratively Their stories undermine the assumption that just because people don t articulate what happens inside them, nothing much is happening at all.
Given Ground Departing from Appalachia s year old literary legacy of formula and caricature West Virginia native Ann Pancake uses the texture of language an intense attention to place and complexity of char

  • Title: Given Ground
  • Author: Ann Pancake
  • ISBN: 9781584651185
  • Page: 173
  • Format: Hardcover
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    1 thought on “Given Ground”

    1. In the front of this book the publication data is 1. Southern States-Social life and customs-Fiction and 2. Maturation (Psychology)-Fiction. I can't seem to define what makes me like these short stories so much, but I think it has something to do with that word "psychology". I think the author has an insiders knowledge of my brain, maybe yours too. It's a style that is so pleasantly satisfying, sometimes direct, other times so obscure the "non-telling" of the story provides inherent meaning. The [...]

    2. Shaking on the way home with this book in hand, finishing the first story "Ghostless." I did not see, nor hear, anything else around me on the bus/subway ride through Philadelphia. I am not sure how I made it back to the apartment, but it has nothing to do with Swedenborg. Whatever the rest of this collection offers, Ann Pancake's name is one I will think of as often as the leaves shiver. Yes, I am ready to move.Three days have passed since I wrote the above paragraph just after reading "Ghostle [...]

    3. Pancake's writing style is one that is both truly unique and breathtakingly powerful. Reminiscent of the great southern writer William Faulkner, Ann Pancake weaves stories of rural Appalachia in the full spectrum of grit and hardship, but she avoids falling into common hillbilly traps of ignorance and destitution. These stories are a gut punch in the best way. They hit hard, and they leave their mark. I read this initially right when it came out, and "Jolo" still haunts me eight years later--tha [...]

    4. This is one of the best books I've ever read. If I had to run out of my burning house, and I could save only an armload of books, this is one of the first I'd grab. I will only do it an injustice by trying to describe it. Just read it. It's brilliant.

    5. There are some books so turgid that you can smell their plodding evil all the way from the parking lot of the Jiffy Book Mart. Others provide you with a temporary thrill at the beach and take your mind off the sharks gnawing through human flesh only yards from your towel. Then there are the rare volumes that are a feast for the soul and mind and that provide rich new treasures with repeated reading. Ann Pancake's Given Ground is just such a book.Given Ground is a collection of 12 stories written [...]

    6. Ann Pancake is an amazing writer. Her writing is just so beautiful and lyrical and it also has great emotional depth. These are stories to read slowly and savor. Sometimes though I am seriously overwhelmed by the density of her prose, which is why the four stars instead of five. "Jolo" is awesome. I also enjoyed "Redneck Boys." These stories are worth re-reading.

    7. One of the best short story collections I have ever read. Ann Pancake has a keen sense of place and dialect. Her characters from Appalachian rural life are full of strength and subbornness. While many of the stories seem hard and bleak, any reader who sits down with Given Ground will walk away amazed at the characters' sheer fortitude to trudge through life.

    8. I could only read one or two of these at a time, the weight was so heavy. A good weight. A necessary weight. A weight made all the more powerful by Ann Pancake’s powerhouse words. But, a weight is still a weight. “Ghostless,” “Dirt,” “Bait,” and “Redneck Boys” are tremendous. Especially “Ghostless” and “Redneck Boys.” And “Bait.”

    9. Another heavyweight entry into the sadly non-existent canon of vernacular American short fiction. Pancake's invocation of the landscape is so masterful that Appalachia is almost tactile in her stories.Jolo is one of the greatest short stories I have ever read, with Ghostless and Bait snapping at its heels.

    10. A few notable quotes:"Every Christmas Lindy'd stand beside the conveyor belt under electronic monitors with the other passengers, well-dressed and cologned. Behind her, silent and just out of sight, the odor of hunting jacket, of little-washed man, and of the wood smoke he's carried all the way from the house. She knows her father'll try to merge his rust-bitten Chevrolet Citation onto the freeway outside the airport and be forced onto the shoulder before he can snatch his little piece of road. [...]

    11. Jolo--say itJolo." Jolo is one of the most interesting characters I have read about in recent years. At the age of four, he was in a house fire from which he escaped with grave injuries. His father and baby brother died in this same fire. The skin on his stomach was burned off, as were his nipples. His left ear was partially burned off. The Jolo story is onlyone of many. In another, Pancake writes the story of a young boy whose father teaches him how to see ghosts--mostly those of Confederate so [...]

    12. There are prose stylists who whittle their sentences to a fine point, a perfectly-tuned object. There are prose stylists who breathlessly append and append and append to their sentences, extending them outwards; as if, in casting this web of words over experience, somehow its multifarious "reality" can be expressed. Pancake falls into the latter category. If you have the opportunity to see her read a story in person, by all means do it. That breathless accumulation proves absolutely riveting dur [...]

    13. Anne Pancake was a visiting writer at Converse College and I happened to be taking a short fiction course at the time. We had the opportunity to read some stories from Given Ground and speak with her in class. She is a passionate person in a complex relationship with her home state of West Virginia. Her stories are dark, bleak, and for the most part devoid of hope, but meeting Pancake makes you realize that she writes out of love for the people of West Virginia, her people, and writes to shed li [...]

    14. Ann Pancake’s Given Ground consists of twelve short stories that strike me as the author’s search for truth, for an uncovering of life’s harshest realities, a means of baring them to the light so that we can all learn from them. Pancake uses dialect common to many rural parts of West Virginia in a way that is conversely harsh and poetic, but is nonetheless true to what I know, having lived twenty-four years in those same mountains. It is more than regional vernacular that causes Pancake’ [...]

    15. Each story in this collection is spellbinding. Each required multiple readings--Ann Pancake winds through these story-worlds so smoothly that I was never able to pinpoint how she got from beginning to end until I turned back to the beginning and started all over again, my eye more finely tuned to her subtle twists and turns. I'm stunned by how intimately she writes about her Appalachia, how thoroughly she explores these hollows and mountains, without any suggestion of cliche or condescension. A [...]

    16. Okay! I admit it. I have a crush on Ann Pancake. So it kind of predisposes me to love all these stories, but ALSO they are all really, really good. Gathering Wood is probably my favorite, Redneck Boys, of course Jolo. The way she talks about home kind of kills me. In a good way. I rarely get that kind of intense catharsis from stories, but I'm always looking for it, always waiting, always so relieved when it finds its way to me again. I read these one at a time, like yummy chocolates, pacing mys [...]

    17. I need to go right back in and reread these long poetic short stories. Words creep around obviously trying their best to land upright long enough to tell you something is wrong and something is right. You don't get it? Look deeper. Look past the claw marks and the blood. The sharp odor of pine needles might cover up the smell of decay and poisoned liquor but tread cautiously, the apples have worms and the Greyhound sometimes keeps right on going even if you are standing tall, suitcase in hand tr [...]

    18. Wonderful writing, the stories are blowing me away, so glad I'm taking her class at the writers fest at Chautauqua next month!Amazing and heartbreaking stories. I'd never thought of the morality or ethics of buying poor people's land and building fancy second homes right next to people who don't have enough to eat. Not caring about the locals but only of themselves, never wondering or cring what they thought or needed.

    19. Best definition of voice growing out of place in modern fiction. Stories of ghosts and land and everything that binds us to that essential moment in life, be it a pregnancy test or walking out of a burning house. Quality and efficiency of language is impressive. Mike and I wrestle over who loves this book more. He wins, greasy little man.

    20. Modern atmospheric Appalachian stories. Incredible and tough, laced with loss. Ann Pancake can write short stories. This line sums up the collection, in my mind: ". . . and I know inside me a wrongness and grief out of all proportion to common sense."

    21. A book so stark it almost stifles you with its unemotional portrayal of the hidden, oft-stereotyped people of the hills in WV. Excellently written, and nuanced so that the lack of hyperbole allows you to feel the humanity of the characters without indulging in bathos.

    22. This writer is single handedly one of the most influential writers that I have ever read. These stories in this collection are rich with place, sometimes haunting, sometimes desolate, but always sensual and full of character, struggle and love.

    23. Not just because I could be biased, as this author is one of my dearest friends, and sister's sister in law; these short stories are thought provoking and the prose amazing.

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