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Lee Smith Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Black Mountain Breakdown (1980) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Oral History (1983) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Family Linen (1985) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Fair and Tender Ladies (1988) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Devil's Dream (1992) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Fancy Strut (1993) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Saving Grace (1995) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Last Girls (2002) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
On Agate Hill (2006) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Guests on Earth (2013) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Short Stories

The Christmas Letters (1996) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Short Story Collections

Cakewalk (1981) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Me and My Baby View the Eclipse (1990) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
News of the Spirit (1997) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Mrs. Darcy and the Blue-Eyed Stranger (2010) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Conjunctions Anthologies

Tributes (1997) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Dimestore: A Writer's Life (2016) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Lee Smith is an American author of fiction in the Southern Gothic genre. She was born November 1, 1944, in Grundy, Virginia. She grew up in the mountains of the Appalachians in southwestern Virginia, a frequent setting for many of her novels that feature characters that live in the southern states or parts of the Appalachian mountains.

When she was nine years old, she was already writing and selling stories for a nickel each. The stories would be about her neighbors in her hometown and the nearby “hollers”. She has published several novels since 1968 and has also released three collections of her short stories and won several awards for writing.

She has a sense of place that reveals empathy and insight into the Appalachian culture and people. Her birth in the small coal-mining town located in the Blue Ridge Mountains close to the Kentucky border informs many of her novels. The town was barely ten miles from the border of Kentucky and her home was on Main Street with the Levisa River running behind it.

Her mother had come to Grundy to teach school and her father was a native of the area that operated a dime store. She began observing the shoppers in that store and paid attention to how they spoke, dressed, and what they said, providing early training as a writer.

Smith would catch these details through a peephole located secretly in the ceiling of the store so that shoppers never had a clue! Smith captured these tales in her nonfiction novel titled Dimestore: A Writer’s Life. It was released in 2016.

She says that she did not know any writers growing up but did grow up in the middle of people that would talk and tell their story. She says that her Uncle Vern was a famous storyteller and was in the legislature. Her dad was also a good storyteller, and her mother could create a story out of anything, even a trip to the grocery store. She describes the storytelling as ‘very local’.

She says that she was very weird as a child and also a reader whose thirst for books was insatiable. She wrote her first story at ten about two people heading west to become Mormons. Ironically, they embodied the same themes that she is focused on today, religion and staying in one place or fleeing. Lee Smith says that her influences include Flannery O’Connor, William Faulkner, Virginia Woolf, and Eudora Welty.

She first became a published author with the release of her book Black Mountain Breakdown, the tale of a popular girl at school that follows her as she goes through life. It was released in 1980. Smith has won the O. Henry Award, the North Carolina Award for Literature, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Fiction.

Lee Smith followed the release of her debut fiction novel with another three years later titled Oral History. She then wrote several more novels that ended up being released– Family Linen, Fair and Tender Ladies, Devil’s Dream, and five more.

Black Mountain Breakdown is the story of main character Crystal Spangler. She is a young woman that resides in the rural Appalachia area. Crystal is the center of her mother’s world. While Crystal is not extraordinarily beautiful, her mother knows that she will be soon.

In the meantime, Crystal goes to Black Rock High. She’s the most popular girl there. She makes the cheerleading squad and always manages to get good grades. It’s no surprise when she gets elected beauty queen either. But Crystal discovers God and her whole perspective changes and she becomes more religious.

From there, Crystal goes off to college. She even falls in love while she is there. But when she comes home, she’s confused and she looks disheveled. Later down the line, she becomes the wife of a wealthy politician so it seems like she’s doing pretty well for herself.

But all along the way, there is something mysterious calling to her. It wants to take her back to where everything began, in the Black Mountain’s shadow. What will happen to Crystal? Pick up this thrilling novel by Lee Smith to find out, the first of many in the southern Gothic genre from this author.

Oral History is the second fictional novel penned by Lee Smith. The main character in this novel is Jennifer. She is a student currently studying at college. But when she returns to her home as a child, Hoot Owl Holler, there is a lot to be recorded on the little tape recorder that she brings with her. Be careful what you wish for when you’re trying to figure out your family history.

The Cantrell family has lived in the mountains of Virginia in Hoot Owl Holler for a long time. The family is known for going to extremes and they seem to do everything full force. They play hard, they love hard, and when something goes wrong they are devastated. They are not the type to keep a stiff upper lip.

This story focuses on the story of the Cantrells. This doomed family is covered through roughly four generations. Perhaps they are just having a run of bad luck, but there’s something dark out there in the mountains. Still, the family will not give up even though there are tales being told to Jennifer about blood ties, murder, suicide, incest, and more.

The book covers the course of one hundred years when it’s not focusing on Jennifer, who is determined to learn more about her family history and tree through stories. This story is set in a fictional part of the Appalachia, but that doesn’t stop it from being culturally resonant and true to the area in some aspects. The novel starts with Almarine Cantrell’s encounter with a witch and goes on through to his grandchildren too.

Can the family break free of the string of bad luck that seems to follow them? You’ll have to pick up Lee Smith’s thrilling southern Gothic tale Oral History in order to find out what happens in this exciting second novel from this award-winning writer.

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