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Volume 24, Number 10 — November 2017

ETSU Professor Editor of The Hills Remember

May 07, 2012

JOHNSON CITY, TN — Dr. Ted Olson, a professor in East Tennessee State University's Department of Appalachian Studies, has edited The Hills Remember: The Complete Short Stories of James Still, recently released by the University Press of Kentucky.

Still (1906-2001) was the first poet laureate of Kentucky and one of the most admired and influential authors to work in and write about Appalachia. A native of Alabama, Still attended Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate in the 1920s, and by the 1930s he was living in Kentucky's Knott Co., and was working as a librarian at the Hindman Settlement School. He remained in Knott Co. for the remainder of his life, and he set most of his literary works there.

The first-ever complete compilation of Still's short works of fiction, The Hills Remember includes all the short stories from three previous collections — On Troublesome Creek (1941), Pattern of a Man and Other Stories (1976), and The Run for the Elbertas (1980); 12 prose pieces that Still published separately and later incorporated into his acclaimed 1940 novel, River of Earth; several lesser-known previously uncollected stories; and 10 never-before-published stories.

Noted Appalachian writer Ron Rash says of The Hills Remember, "James Still is better known as a novelist and poet, but as this volume confirms, he was an excellent short story writer as well. Bravo to Ted Olson and University Press of Kentucky for this valuable addition to James Still's legacy."

In an introductory essay written for The Hills Remember, Olson offers a reassessment of Still's short fiction within the contexts of the author's body of work and within Appalachian and American literature.

While Olson was a graduate student at the University of Kentucky, he met Still at the 50th anniversary of the publication of River of Earth. A few years later, Still discussed his literary work with Olson's students, and, during his talk, Still mentioned that his poetry had never been fully compiled. Olson soon undertook that task, with Still's approval. The resulting work, From the Mountain, From the Valley: New and Collected Poems, received the Appalachian Book of the Year Award from the Appalachian Writers Association in 2002.

Still also encouraged Olson to edit a book collecting his short stories, some of which were widely known, while others had fallen into obscurity or had never been published.

Additionally, Olson edited two scholarly books on Still and his work: James Still: Critical Essays on the Dean of Appalachian Literature (2007) and James Still in Interviews, Oral Histories and Memoirs (2009).

For further information, contact Olson at (423) 439-4379 or olson@etsu.edu.