In Bound for Shady Grove
, essayist Steven Harvey celebrates the spirit of the music of his adopted home in the southern Appalachian mountains. There, at the wellspring of mountain music, he took up his guitar and assumed the journey that culminated in this book.
Harvey’s essays measure out in words the four seasons of a life in music. Springtime pieces describe playing music in the log house of friends born and raised in the mountains or entering a banjo contest and losing with style. There are essays about fiddles and the devil, homemade instruments and homemade weapons, and a trip to England to trace mountain songs back to their elusive sources. As the book progresses into winter, the mood darkens, with pieces exploring the connection between music and resentment, loss, and death.
Descriptions of music, hills, and people blend into a rich harmony as Harvey explores where music has taken him–where, in fact, music can take any of us.
"Bound for Shady Grove
is Steven Harvey’s best book. It is both broadly lyrical and tight, in craft and thought. The descriptions of the music, building instruments, and playing instruments are wonderful. To my mind this is a remarkably distinguished book, unlike any collection of essays I have read."—Samuel F. Pickering Jr., author of Living to Prowl
"This wonderful volume is a first, a sensitively written personal reflection on the poetics and passions of mountain music. There have been studies, collections, and histories of Appalachian music, but now Steven Harvey, in essays attuned to the seasons of life and musical modes, has turned our attention to the complex ways in which fiddle tunes, ballads, and especially banjo picking can move heart and spirit."—Art Rosenbaum
"Steve Harvey is a keen, thoughtful observer who can make words sing. With this unique collection of essays, he paints a personalized portrait of mountain people, their music and its roots, and captures their spirit, dignity, and humor in a most infectious way. I liked this book a lot, or as we say in the mountains, ‘a bushel and a peck and some in a gourd.’"—Zell Miller
"This collection of essays about the South and its music is well crafted, lyrical, written by a keen observer of humankind. . . . Throughout Bound for Shady Grove
Harvey allows us to see that music offers more than a way to express our sorrow—it offers consolation and joy."—Fourth Genre
Steven Harvey is the author of three collections of personal essays: Lost in Translation, Bound for Shady Grove, (both Georgia), and A Geometry of Lilies. He lives in North Georgia, where he teaches English at Young Harris College.
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