Across the Blue Ridge Mountains stretches a world both charming and complicated…
Jeremy Jones and his wife move into a small house above the creek where his family had settled 200 years prior. He takes a job alongside his former teachers in the local elementary school and sets out on a search to understand how this ancient land has shaped its people—how it shaped him. His search sends him burrowing in the past—hunting buried treasure and POW camps, unearthing Civil War graves and family feuds, exploring gated communities and tourist traps, encountering changed accents and immigrant populations, tracing Wal-Mart’s sidewalks and carved-out mountains—and pondering the future. He meshes narrative and myth, geology and genealogy, fiddle tunes and local color about the briskly changing and oft-stigmatized world of his native southern Appalachians. Somehow, these journeys continually lead him back to the mystical Bearwallow Mountain, a peak suddenly in flux.
Praise for Bearwallow
“Me in place and the place in me,” Seamus Heaney declares in his poem “A Herbal.” That idea is at the core of this deeply satisfying memoir of one man’s exile from and return to his Appalachian homeland. Jeremy Jones shows the complexity of a region and a people too often reduced to the crudest of stereotypes, and by doing so gains even greater self-awareness. Bearwallow is a book to be savored.
–Ron Rash, author of Serena and Nothing Gold Can Stay
Bearwallow is a thoughtful reflection on what it means to be a particular kind of southerner—one who went away and returned to see his homeplace anew through fresh eyes. Jeremy B. Jones revels in what many have known for years—that there is not now and never has been a singular Appalachian experience. Jones’s writing is clear-eyed, curious, and reverent. This memoir is a pure pleasure to read.
–Beth Macy, Dopesick and Factory Man
In prose vivid and fresh, Jeremy Jones gives us an intimate and in-depth study of contrasting worlds—Latin America, the Blue Ridge Mountains, old families, new Hispanic arrivals, the pull of home, and the need to escape…It is a story of both teaching and learning, of roots, and of unexpected discovery. Bearwallow is a delight to read.
–Robert Morgan, author of The Road from Gap Creek
Bearwallow is a marvel of a book—intricate and wise. Jones folds the past in with the present—his ancestors’ stories in with his own and those of the new generations of immigrants—tales told in beautiful, meditative prose that stack up like the mountain ridges, one on top of another in a seamless continuum.
–Mesha Maren, Sugar Run