Wednesday, February 20, 2008

What I'm Reading: Salvation on Sand Mountain

I came across this book while looking for information on Appalachian snake-handling churches. When I read the synopsis, I just had to read it, and felt myself incrediably fortunate that the local library actually had a copy.

It is Scottsboro, Alabama, in the fall of 1991. A snake-handling preacher by the name of Glendel Buford Summerford has just tried to murder his wife, Darlene, by snakebite. At gunpoint, he forces her to stick her arm in a box of rattlesnakes. She is bitten twice and nearly dies...
This is a true story, written by Dennis Covington, and one of the most interesting books I have come across in a long time. Not only does it deal with Glendel Summerford's trial, it also explores what it means to be a Southern Appalachian White who has come down from the mountains to an entirely new way of life. I can certainly relate to that, having spent so much of my life in Asheville, North Carolina. The book makes me nostalgic for the known, for the friends who knew me growing up, and the life I might have led had I stuck around. When I finished the book, I wasn't sure whether moving away had led to good or bad fortune.

You know you've read a good book when it leaves you pondering the big questions in life and this book certainly did. Dennis Covington has also written an award-winning novel called Lizard. I can't wait to read it too.

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