Unearthing Breece D’J Pancake

Pancake’s stories and their characters, though from the nineteen-seventies felt both immediately recognizable and pertinent to the present moment. Set mostly in the coal country of West Virginia, “The Stories of Breece D’J Pancake” features a cast of hardscrabble laborers whose lives are circumscribed by failing farms, diminishing economic prospects, and the environmental blight caused by the harvesting of fossil fuels. Not quite Southern and, likewise, neither Eastern or Midwestern, Appalachia is a largely overlooked region in our literary culture. Pancake’s territory does not even qualify as flyover country. A character in the opening story, “Trilobites,” has such little experience of airplanes that the one time he sees the shadow of jetliner he “honest to god” thinks it’s a pterodactyl.

While deeply tied to the details of its Appalachian setting, the book offers a broader portrait of the personal and societal wreckage left behind by mass industrialization. Grim, work-related deaths and

Article source: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2014/02/the-stories-of-breece-dj-pancake.html

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