Editor’s Note: Author Ann Pancake grew up in the heart of West Virginia coal country. Her 2007 novel Strange as this Weather Has Been is the story of one family’s struggle against the relentless destruction of its beloved mountains.
I went home to West Virginia a couple weeks ago. October is the most beautiful season in Appalachia. The reds and russets, the yellows and oranges and purplebrowns, put into even more terrible relief the experience of swinging around a bend and seeing the horizon blasted to a dead gray mesa. October also means deer season’s coming soon, and in preparation, some people run the night roads with spotlights. It’s illegal to hunt by jacklighting, so most of these hunters are just scouting: sweeping the fields with their bright lights, freezing the deer, marking in their minds where the big bucks are so they can return some November dawn when the season is on.
Ann Pancake’s novel about mountaintop mining Appalachia lies in the East Coast’s shadow, there on the backside of urban centers like Washington, D.C., pushing up against them, but never touching. Appalachia generally stays dark (t... Read more