Skipper, Roger Alan. Tear Down the Mountain: an Appalachian Love Story. Brooklyn: Soft Skull Press, 2006.
This is a tragic story about love in hard times. Sid and Janet’s love story. To describe Janet is to think of a quiet running stream. She is shallow and it is easy to see to the bottom of her personality. Sid is more like a deep rushing rapid. He is turbulent and complicated. The violence that springs up between them is defiant and born out of a survival mode of sorts. They meet as children, innocent enough, outside of a church. Both come from volatile homes so it’s only natural they continue that chaos as a couple. Everything about their relationship is tragic. As children the tragedies start small but as adulthood and poverty put them into a stranglehold they have no choice but to lash out in violent ways. What surprised me the most was how Janet’s violence altered Sid’s emotions more than Sid’s violence got to Janet. She could hurt Sid without even trying. One of the heartbreaking things about Sid is his heart was in the right place but he couldn’t catch a break. Ever. He kind of reminded me of my cousin in that respect. Most of the story is told from Sid’s perspective and only at the beginning and end do we know what Janet was thinking or feeling.
Line I liked the best, “Like kicking tires, your feet delivering what your tongue couldn’t tote” (p 36).
Reason Read: there is an old time fiddle fest in the Appalachian mountains that takes place in September. I am reading Tear the Mountain (set in Appalachia) in honor of the festival that I would probably never attend.
Author Fact: Tear Down the Mountain is Skipper’s first book.
Book Trivia: While finding reviews of Tear Down the Mountain I came across these words from Barbara Hurd, “…write simultaneously about building up and tearing down…” and that fascinated me to no end.
As an aside – when I did a Google search for Tear Down the Mountain the lyrics for “And I’m Telling You” came up. Love that song!
BookLust To Go: From Book Lust to Go in the chapter called “Approaching Appalachia” (p 22).