City to Country, circa 1967–1970

Emily Satterwhite

in Dear Appalachia

Published by University Press of Kentucky

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780813130101
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780813135854 | DOI:
City to Country, circa 1967–1970

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Chapter 4 demonstrates the ways that best-selling Appalachian-set fiction in the Vietnam era produced the region as authentic, promoted regional identity, and trained high middlebrow readers to recognize Appalachia's denizens as stand-ins for racial Others who call forth touristic, missionary, or imperialist responses. Both best sellers mentioned in this chapter imagine Appalachia as both a romantic and nightmarish departure from the normative. Readers of Catherine Marshall's pastoral Christy (1967) found affirmation for their missionary outlooks and felt compelled to vacation in the novel's East Tennessee setting. James Dickey's Deliverance (1970) attracted fans among southern and academic highbrow readers, outdoor enthusiasts, and readers desiring a raw and pristine land peopled by white Americans uncorrupted by mass society. Surprisingly, fan mail indicates that the seemingly stereotypical representations of regional people found in both novels helped generate and maintain regional identity among certain readers. Descendents of out-migrants from Appalachia were drawn to Christy as evidence of their humble but colorful heritage, while homesick out-migrants from the broader South managed to find in Dickey's depraved hillbillies a comforting glimpse of home.

Keywords: James Dickey; Deliverance; Catherine Marshall; Christy; fan mail; tourism; missionary; best sellers; regional identity; Vietnam era

Chapter.  15929 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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