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Strange as This Weather Has Been

A Novel

List Price: $16.95

September 11, 2007 | Paperback | 6 x 9, 352 Pages | ISBN 9781593761660
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"[Pancake] makes her point in Strange as This Weather Has Been in a powerful, sure-footed and haunting way: People aren't dirt. But they know when they're being treated like dirt, whether in the Lower Ninth Ward or the hills of West Virginia." —New York Times

Set in present day West Virginia, Ann Pancake’s debut novel, Strange As This Weather Has Been, tells the story of a coal mining family — a couple and their four children — living through the latest mining boom and dealing with the mountaintop removal and strip mining that is ruining what is left of their mountain life. As the mine turns the mountains to slag and wastewater, workers struggle with layoffs and children find adventure in the blasted moonscape craters.

Strange As This Weather Has Been follows several members of the family, with a particular focus on fifteen-year-old Bant and her mother, Lace. Working at a “scab” motel, Bant becomes involved with a young miner while her mother contemplates joining the fight against the mining companies. As domestic conflicts escalate at home, the children are pushed more and more outside among junk from the floods and felled trees in the hollows—the only nature they have ever known. But Bant has other memories and is as curious and strong-willed as her mother, and ultimately comes to discover the very real threat of destruction that looms as much in the landscape as it does at home.

About Ann Pancake

ANN PANCAKE, a native of Romney, West Virginia, earned a BA in English from West Virginia University, an MA in English Literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a PhD in English Literature from the University of Washington. Ann Pancake has lived in Japan, American Samoa, and Thailand, where she taught English as a Second Language. Pancake currently teaches in the low-residency MFA program at Pacific Lutheran University. She lives in Seattle.

Praise

“]Pancake] makes her point in Strange as This Weather Has Been in a powerful, sure-footed and haunting way: People aren’t dirt. But they know when they’re being treated like dirt, whether in the Lower Ninth Ward or the hills of West Virginia.” —New York Times

“By tracing the devastating impact of coal mining through the eyes of Lace and her four children, Pancake’s powerful debut novel evinces a poetic pathos and authentic respect for the land and the people who love it. To comprehend the egregious and tragic environmental damage mountaintop-removal coal mining has wrought on the once pristine vistas of Appalachia, one should read any one of many excellent exposés. To understand the human toll such destruction exacts, one must turn to fiction, for novels such as Pancake’s reflect deeper, timeless truths.” —Booklist Starred Review

“Lush descriptions of the landscape are matched with a hurtling stream-of-consciousness narration to great effect: one doubts neither the characters’ voices nor their places in a very complex poverty.” —Publishers Weekly

“Pancake, incorporating the cadence of the region, beautifully balances the tragedy of this family in decline with the inevitable destruction of their homeland. The best kind of reportage fiction: evocative and meaningful.” —Kirkus

 

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