RURALVOICES - Candlewick

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Transcript of RURALVOICES - Candlewick

UntitledASSUMPTIONS ABOUT
SMALL-TOWN AMERICA
Names, characters, places, and incidents in the fictional pieces in this book are either products of the authors’ imaginations or, if real, are used fictitiously.
Compilation and introduction copyright © 2020 by Nora Shalaway Carpenter © * “The (Unhealthy) * Breakfast Club” copyright © 2020 by Monica Roe
© © © * “The Hole of Dark Kill Hollow” copyright *
© 2020 by Rob Costello © * “A Border Kid Comes of Age” copyright © ©
* © 2020 by David Bowles © * “Fish * and Fences” copyright ©
© 2020 by Veeda Bybee © * “Close Enough” copyright ©
* © 2020 by Nora Shalaway © Carpenter * “Whiskey and Champagne” copyright
© * © 2020 by S. A. Cosby © * “What Home Is” copyright
© *
* © 2020 by Yamile Saied Méndez © * “Grandpa” copyright © ©
© 2020 by Randy DuBurke © * “Best in Show” copyright © ©
* © 2020 by Tirzah © Price * “Praise the Lord and Pass the Little Debbies” copyright
© © * © 2020 by David Macinnis Gill
© © *
“The Cabin” copyright © 2020 by Nasuraq Rainey Hopson © * “Black Nail Polish” copyright © ©
* © 2020 © by Shae Carys * “Secret Menu” copyright
© *
Stove” copyright © 2020 by Joseph Bruchac ©
© * “Home Waits” copyright * © 2020 by Estelle Laure © Excerpt of letter from Millicent Rogers to her son Paul on page 286 courtesy of Millicent Rogers Museum, Taos, NM.
Every effort has been made to obtain permission from the relevant copyright holders and to ensure that all credits are correct. Any omissions are inadvertent and will be corrected in future editions if notification is given to the publishers in writing.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, transmitted, or stored in an information retrieval system in any form or by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, taping, and recording, without prior written permission from the publisher.
First edition 2020
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number pending ISBN 978-1-5362-1210-5
SHD 25 24 23 22 21 20 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Printed in Chelsea, MI, USA
This book was typeset in ITC Esprit and Halewyn.
Candlewick Press 99 Dover Street Somerville, Massachusetts 02144
www.candlewick.com
A JUN I OR LIBRARY GU I LD SELECT I ON
To anyone who’s ever felt “less than”
N S C
22 The Hole of Dark Kill Hollow Rob Costello
45 A Border Kid Comes of Age David Bowles
62 Fish and Fences Veeda Bybee
83 Close Enough Nora Shalaway Carpenter
106 Whiskey and Champagne S. A. Cosby
117 What Home Is Ashley Hope Pérez
129 Island Rodeo Queen Yamile Saied Méndez
152 Grandpa Randy DuBurke
172 Best in Show Tirzah Price
198 Praise the Lord and Pass the Little Debbies David Macinnis Gill
212 The Cabin Nasugraq Rainey Hopson
227 Black Nail Polish 227
Shae Carys
259 Pull Up a Seat Around the Stove Joseph Bruchac
279 Home Waits Estelle Laure
301 ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS
Dear Reader,
When I was growing up, my family traveled a lot, a perk of hav-
ing a parent who took on freelance travel-writing assignments.
I was seven years old when, on one such trip, an adult I’d just
met cracked a joke about me. In response to learning I was
from West Virginia, the person wondered how that could be—
because I still had all my teeth.
There was a pause, and young me realized I was supposed
to laugh. To join the “fun.” I don’t remember what the person
looked like or whether we were in an airport or a fast-food res-
taurant. But the smallness that comment instilled in me—the
idea that I should feel shame because of where I lived—that I
remember to this day.
Unfortunately, this was only the fi rst of many ugly West
Virginia stereotypes I’d encounter. I spent most of my childhood
and young adulthood internalizing shame about where I was
from and trying to reconcile my lived experiences with the
almost universally negative and simplistic portrayal of rural
people on TV and in other popular media. I grew accustomed
to casual jabs about my background and learned not to mention
it. On the occasional times I did challenge those jabs—when I
managed to communicate some version of What you’re saying
doesn’t match my reality and it also insults many people I love—
my experiences were seen as exceptions to the rule, not proof of
its invalidity.
This reaction depressed me, but it didn’t surprise me. After
all, for most of America’s history, rural people and culture have
been casually mocked, stereotyped, and, in general, deeply mis-
understood. But then 2016 happened. In the months following
the presidential election, rural people became something of a
media obsession. Derogatory remarks about rural Americans
became increasingly prevalent and intense. Over and over
again, people outside the rural experience tried to understand
and explain the rural narrative. Over and over again, the story
of a rural monolith—a uniform, like-minded population that
shares the same beliefs, value system, identities, and political
leanings—was told and accepted as truth.
Because this is a foreword and not a political-science or
economics article, all I’ll say here is that yes, I saw the elec-
toral maps like everyone else, but those visuals don’t tell any-
where close to the whole story. However, in the eyes of most
Americans, it seemed, there was only the monolith.
I was done with the monolith.
Rural Voices emerged as a counterpoint to that harmful nar-
rative and the hurtful idea that accompanies it—that “rural”
equates with “less than.” Being rural is deeply embedded in
many people’s identities, but it is defi nitely not a punch line.
As I began envisioning this anthology and the authors who
might want to contribute, the slipperiness of the “rural” label
became more and more apparent. Some townships and unin-
corporated areas are technically (according to mailing address)
classifi ed as part of larger towns, but due to the reality of geog-
raphy, the residents’ lifestyles are vastly different from those of
the people living in the towns’ centers. Some areas, while tiny
in population, are nonetheless major tourist attractions and
posh vacation hot spots. Does that somehow negate their rural
status?
The nature of this project did require some kind of rural
defi nition, and so, for the purposes of this collection, it is this:
Rural refers to belonging to a community consisting of ten thou-
sand people or fewer that is a signifi cant driving distance from
an urban area. Contributors either grew up in rural communi-
ties or lived in one long enough at some point to self-identify as
a rural American.
The fi fteen authors whose work you’re about to read are
diverse in ethnic and cultural background, sexual orientation,
rural geographic location, physical ability, and socioeconomic
status. You’ll fi nd powerful new voices alongside award -
winning, established authors. Still, this collection portrays only
a fraction of the innumerable experiences and voices that com-
pose rural America. And that, indeed, is the point: There’s not
just one type of rural.
These stories will transport you all over the United States
and into the lives and hearts of the characters who inhabit
them. In Virginia, you’ll solve a mystery and right a wrong.
You’ll roam the arctic tundra of Alaska and meet the ghosts
of a mountain town in New Mexico. In New York, you’ll dis-
cover a hollow’s powerful, dark secret, and you’ll be invited to
pull up a seat and learn of real-life experiences that bloomed
into poetry. You’ll navigate a private school in South Carolina
and learn to speak your truth. You’ll walk—painfully—down
cracked Indiana sidewalks. In Georgia, you’ll take a life-altering
bus ride in one story; in another, you’ll fi nd a forest that makes
you remember who you are. In Idaho, you’ll discover the secret
menu of a small restaurant and, later, how speaking up can
shatter barriers. You’ll fi nd fear and freedom in East Texas and
political—and personal—unrest in a Texas border town. You’ll
climb trees in West Virginia and visit a county fair in Michigan.
In Utah, you’ll experience a teen’s struggle to bridge two very
different parts of her identity. Every one of these places is rural;
yet every one is its own unique universe.
Just as there’s no one uniform rural place, there’s no one
kind of rural teen, either. The teenagers in these pieces range
from amateur sleuths and academic scholarship winners to
marching-band members and rodeo queen hopefuls. They are
pig farmers and writers, artists and restaurant servers. They
navigate relationships, bigotry, and their own identities. Some
are popular. Some are misfi ts. They love their hometowns and
hate them, sometimes both at once.
Rural Voices defi es the idea of a rural monolith, over and
over, with every story. It seeks to change the conversation. To
offer new narratives and ways of viewing the incredible people
who make up rural America, the people who are so often mis-
understood, made fun of, and maligned, who are overlooked or
even outright ignored. The short stories, poetry, graphic short
stories, personal essay, and author anecdotes in these pages dive
deep into the complexity and diversity of rural America and the
people who call it home.
Whether your own experience is rural or not, I hope you
fi nd something of yourself in these pages—and more than a few
somethings that surprise you.
Thank you for reading,